HONG KONG / CHINA / USA 2010 Directed by: Tony Chan, Wing Shya Written by: Wing Shya Produced by: Fruit Chan, Paul Cheng Cinematography by: Sion Michel Editing by: Wenders Li Music by: Eddie Chung Yan-Tai Cast: Nicholas Tse, Jacky Cheung, Rene Liu, Vivian Hsu, Barbie Hsu, Yihong Duan, Xinbo Fu, Angela Baby, Daniel Wu, Boran Jing, Zhuoyan He, Conroy Chan Fruit Chan, Phat Chan, Maggie Cheung, Jan Lamb, Michelle Wai, Shawn Yue, Joey Yung
Nothing beats HOT SUMMER DAYS in terms of star appeal, and few movies manage to put a star-studded cast like this to good use. The comedy / satire / romance is about, surprise, hot summer days in the Chinese territories, when temperatures rise to the boiling point and people go nuts. Not nuts like in FALLING DOWN, but for everyone in HOT SUMMER DAYS the period of exceptional heat seems to throw their lives off the regular track.
In the center of the story are ex-driver Wah and unsuccessful pianist Li Yan who have an SMS-relationship but never met personally. Both struggle with their careers, working McJobs to survive instead of doing what they were destined to do. Then there’s an air conditioner repair guy who’s interested in a crazy biker chick, and a sushi master who tries to get his relationship worked out with writer Wasabi; plus many other romantic or dramatic stories that take place during this one-of-a-kind heat wave.
HOT SUMMER DAYS is a classic omnibus movie with many different stories going on at the same time. However, these are mostly not related like in other films but are only connected through the locations and the heat wave scenario. The concept works very well and trying to complicate the various plot threads would have probably diverted our attention (and probably that of the writers) unnecessarily. HOT SUMMER DAYS concentrates mostly on the characters, and that makes for charming feel-good entertainment.
It is noteworthy that HOT SUMMER DAYS is not just a bland star vehicle like most of the Chinese New Year movies that have everything except a story to tell. Despite being a romantic comedy by genre HOT SUMMER DAYS is a serious movie indeed; whether or not all the stories have the depth you expect is a question everyone has to answer for her-/himself. But overall the movie is an example of discerning entertainment – maybe that isn’t too surprising after all, seeing one of the “heroes” of the independent Hong Kong cinema involved in the production, Fruit Chan of MADE IN HONG KONG / LITTLE CHEUNG / DURIAN DURIAN fame).
HOT SUMMER DAYS is spot-on mainstream cinema that at the same time is indie enough to satisfy true film buffs. While nothing’s perfect, the movie knows very well how to balance black humor, serious moments and the lightness of being. HOT SUMMER DAYS is enjoyable from beginning to end, proving that it all comes down to a big idea, good story and a non-fuzzy way to tell it.