Not even a heat wave can keep us from being in love!
Words: Desmond Childs
One of my first reviews on this blog was a film called Haeundae (Tidal Wave) and it had the distinction of being Southern Korea’s first “disaster movie”. The trick to what made Haeundae a pretty engrossing film is the way director Yoon Je-Kyoon managed to mesh a (at times) slapstick, witty dramedy with a terrible, tragic disaster movie. Mother nature truly felt like a character in the movie even before the destruction began, and once things did start to break down, the audience had been given enough character “dev” to actually care whether or not the characters survived the destruction. Hot Summer Days seems to also use the weather as a character in the film, however this time record-breaking heat is the problem the characters on screen are having to live with. Not only is it hot, but the demand for working A/C and electricity has sent the city into a civilized frenzy of sorts. People all over are rushing to every shop, corner store, and stand to pick up whatever they can. More to the point, this film focuses on the relationships between friends, family, and lovers with the narrative switching between 3 or 4 stories. So while the heat does somewhat play a role in the story, it serves as more of a subplot (oddly enough) for the love lives of the players we get on screen.
Tony Chan and Wing Shya
Synopsis and Analysis: “Young Love in a crunchy, seasoned nut shell”
Tony Chan and Wing Shya, winners of the 1993 Sundance Film Festival (Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award), for their feature Combination Platter. In addition to Hot Summer Days and Combination Platter, Mr. Chan has also worked as writer-director in the 2011 film, Love in Space. Wing Shya has served as Director of the Camera and Electrical department on all three of the duo’s projects and currently has the latest feature, Love in Space in post-production.
What probably stuck out to me the most about their work on Hot Summer Days was the way each character’s stories were well woven together to form the overall story’s plot. The camera and production values were solid, but are rarely the focus in romantic comedies anyway, with most of the details being paid toward character chemistry and development. The players onscreen definetly give Chan and Shya something to work with, and even though some choices were made that didn’t really pan out; the movie pays for itself. As for the pacing, I really feel this aspect of the feature was the weakest in excecution. Although stories were coherent and believable, I always felt as if I were watching Hot Summer Days with the “fast-forward x2” activated on my DVD player. Sometimes, in movies, details (as petty as they tend to be) add a bit more flair to romantic comedies such as this. The other issue is that this film just wasn’t all that funny. In fact, I spent very little time laughing, with most of the humorous scenes barely getting a smile out of me. Now don’t get me wrong, because Unknown Pleasures, Passport to Love, and even some parts of Tidal Wave were pretty hilarious. In comparison, Hot Summer Days seems more of a romantic drama, than a comedy. I also mentioned that the movie pretty much pays for itself in the end, however I wasn’t as interested as I would have liked to have been by the conclusion. For this reason, Hot Summer Days was mostly an ambitious attempt at juggling an ensemble cast gone awry. The movie is available on Netflix for instant watch, by the way.