A “Valentine’s Day”-style romantic multi-strander, “Hot Summer Days,” Fox’s virgin venture into Chinese-language production and distribution, bubbles along with a jaunty but unoriginal blend of the sweet, tart, cute and weepy. Negotiating five barely linked plotlines set around Beijing, Hong Kong and Shenzhen during the hottest summer ever, helming duo Tony Chan and Wing Shya skip nimbly from story to story, avoiding boredom but guaranteeing superficiality. Star-studded pic has already scored big in Asia, and its limited Stateside release should rev up DVD interest.
Despite threadbare meet-cutes and coy ploys at playing hard to get, the material is made enormously likable by engaging thesps, foremost among them Jacky Cheung, as an ex-driver reduced to parading around in an ice-cube costume, and Rene Liu, as a pianist employed as a foot masseuse. A motorcycle pas de deux between a gorgeous, tattooed mystery girl (Barbie Hsu) and an air-conditioning repairman (Nicholas Tse) exudes ghoulishly schmaltzy charm; even the country-simple tale of a teddy-bear factory worker (Angelababy) who tests the devotion of her hick swain (Fu Xinbo) rings true. And then there’s long-absent Maggie Cheung, weeping and abandoned in a solo cameo.