A collection of good-looking actors glisten beautifully in this ensemble romantic comedy, set during a record-breaking heat wave that Angelenos will have no problem relating to. Involvement in the predictable outcomes of the characters' intertwining tales might be more of a challenge.
Fox's first Chinese-language film, "Hot Summer Days" is filled with stars of Hong Kong and Chinese cinema in major roles and cameos — notably a brief return to the screen by Maggie Cheung — and was a hit on home turf. It doesn't look destined for similar success here, but moviegoers who aren't averse to pop-song-driven montages and surging schmaltz might embrace the light blend of eye candy and sentimentality.
Crisscrossing among an assortment of sweltering characters in Hong Kong and mainland China, directors Tony Chan and Wing Shya lend the narrative threads visual flair. A melting skyline signals the heat stroke that overtakes the movie's most engaging star-crossed pair and leads to their connection, via wrong-number text message, in a charming "Shop Around the Corner" riff. Jacky Cheung and René Liu, as the recently fired chauffeur and the pianist who works as a foot masseuse, ground the film in a more complex dynamic than anything else the script offers.
Unlike the similarly multi-strand "Valentine's Day," "Hot Summer Days" has heart, however overstated most of its action. Accentuating its weaknesses but lovely nonetheless is the twist of sorts, involving a factory worker and the boy who's smitten with her, that ends the movie with a sweet zing.
"Hot Summer Days." MPAA rating: PG for mild thematic elements and smoking. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. Playing at Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.