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‘The Mambo Kings’

Like a Cuban-American version of “The Commitments,” this 1992 film shows how much we are willing to forgive if only a movie fills the screen with gaudy life. Cliche actors, cartoonish emotions, an uncertain plot--none of this seems to matter much in the face of a motion picture that is able to hook into as potent a musical force as the sexy, sensual mambo of the 1950s. Armand Assante (left), who galvanizes the film with his recklessly dynamic presence, and the quietly effective Antonio Banderas star as rumba-loving Cuban emigre musicians (HBO Tuesday at 3:10 a.m.).


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