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Originally published Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 3:05 PM

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‘My Lucky Star’: Zhang Ziyi shines in frothy rom-com

A movie review of “My Lucky Star,” a frothy Chinese romantic comedy starring Zhang Ziyi as a daydreaming drone who gets whisked into a real-life adventure involving the secret-agent man of her dreams and a scheming arms dealer.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 2.5 stars

‘My Lucky Star,’ with Zhang Ziyi, Wang Leehom, Chen Yao, Jack Kao. Directed by Dennie Gordon, from a screenplay by Amy Snow, Chris Chow, Hai Hwong and Yao Meng. 113 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some mature humor, mild language. In Chinese, with English subtitles. Pacific Place.

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In its own modest fashion, the frothy Chinese rom-com “My Lucky Star” aims to benefit from an international exchange: It’s a glossy, Hollywood-styled vehicle for versatile superstar Zhang Ziyi (of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Hero” fame), directed by American TV veteran Dennie Gordon and releasing simultaneously in the U.S. and mainland China.

A breezy riff on James Bond, “Charade” and the “Oceans Eleven” franchise, “My Lucky Star” is ostensibly a sequel to 2009’s “Sophie’s Revenge” (a big hit in China), but aside from Zhang reprising her titular role from that film, it’s a stand-alone feature, introducing Sophie as a lovelorn, daydreaming drone in a Beijing travel agency.

She indulges her romantic fantasies by writing and illustrating comic books, but after winning a sweepstakes trip to Singapore, she’s whisked into a real-life thriller involving the secret-agent man of her dreams (Wang Leehom) and a scheming arms dealer (Chen Yao) who’s stolen the “Lucky Star,” a huge, exotic diamond that powers a superweapon she’ll sell to the highest bidder.

It’s hardly original, but as the plot bounces from Singapore to Hong Kong and the lavishly gaudy Venetian Resort in Macao, “My Lucky Star” plays out like a sparkling, brightly lit travelogue with Zhang as a bubbly tour guide. Whether she’s posing as a nightclub sex kitten, singing gondolier or leather-clad badass, Zhang’s every bit as appealing here as she was in her martial-arts classics.

Gordon’s feature credits include the David Spade comedy “Joe Dirt,” which might explain why “My Lucky Star” lacks any particular flair. While giving Zhang ample opportunity to prove her comic chops, it gradually gets bogged down in conspicuous product placements and uneven pacing, which stretches this otherwise amiable comedy to 113 overlong minutes.

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