Kung Fu Chefs (2009)
Director: Ken Yip
Tagline: God of Cookery remix
I was so desperate to see a Hong Kong movie that I rushed into this not caring if it was another Wong Jing Tarantino rip-off fart-fest. I was relieved to see another director’s name come up in the credits so everything had to be better after that.
The movie starts off with chef Wong Bing-Yi (Sammo Hung) being set up at a banquet by his master and he is forced to give up cooking. There is a special cooking knife involved, known at the “Dragon Head Clever” that is the cause of much strife.
Flash-forward to several years later and we see martial arts student Ken-ichi (Van Ness Wu) about to graduate from his training. He thinks he is pretty slick, but the principal of his school knows better and tells him to go work in a kitchen to get some real skills.
As luck would happen, both Wong and Ken-ichi happen to end up at Sum’s family restaurant run by sisters (Cherrie Ying and Ai Kago). The chef recognises Wong immediately, and after his meal is seriously dissed, he challenges Wong to a cooking challenge with Ken-ichi as his assistant. Of course, the challenging chef loses and when he applies for a job at Wong’s nephew’s place, you know there is going to be trouble as there is a family grudge.
It’s been a while since I have seen Sammo Hung in a comedy, as he seems to be doing more serious roles these days. Being around all this food must have been hard for him as I once saw him eating Nandos’ and his missus wouldn’t even let him have chips with his chicken. I thought he was great in this movie, but he has to be so serious all the time and he can play silly just as good as the rest of them.
Van Ness Wu stands around looking cool most of the time, but does get to do some fun fight scenes and the important cooking battle scene off his own bat. If you are a fan of Iron Chef I would recommend this movie as most of the major scenes are based around cooking battles or preparing ingredients.
My favourite actor in the whole movie was Ai Kago, she plays the love interest for Ken-ichi and looks really cute. I am biased as she reminds me so much of a friend I know who is a dancer. My favourite scene was when she swung on the fruit and veggie scale like Tarzan and knocked a bloke across the produce section of the supermarket, then fought off six other dudes (she started the fight!)
As to how well it stacks up against God of Cookery, my all-time favourite Hong Kong comedy and the benchmark for all cooking comedies, I would say that is more of a tribute to it. The storyline seemed quite familiar and even some of the names of the dishes were the same. Lam Tze Chung even makes a cameo as a rival chef in a similar role to that played by Vincent Kok in that movie.
If you are such a sour-puss that you have everything totally make sense, then I would avoid this movie. I am not going to rate it as harshly as I would usually as it has just been so long since I have seen a good romantic comedy from Hong Kong. There was a small, but enthusiastic audience at the cinema screening I saw it at and hopefully it does well on DVD.