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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Movie Review: Kung Fu Chefs (2009) #Hongkongcinema

Kung Fu Chefs (Gong Fu Chu Shen)
Cast: Sammo Hung, Vanessa Wu, Cherrie Ying, Ai Kago, Lam Chi-Chung
Genre: Action
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $183 million

Plot: Ousted chef Wong Bing-Yi is determined to help Shen Qing at her restaurant, ''Four Seas''. He trains a young chef to compete against Chef Tin, the head chef at Imperial Palace for the title of Top Chef

'Culinary Fight Fest That Underwhelms With The Action & Dull Story'

Iron Chef meets Kung Fu Hustle and other old school kung fu movies, Kung Fu Chefs doesn't deliver when it comes to the goods and is burdened by dull melodrama and poor editing, whilst at the same time, it takes itself far too seriously for a movie about cooking.

Sammo Hung plays chef and village leader Yee, who is worthy of wielding the Golden Dragon Blade - a type of special cleaver capable of achieving brilliant feats of cookery. But whose past still haunts him to this day. There is the other subplot with Ken'ichi in search of his master's master to teach him the tricks of the trade, whilst also assigning himself as the promising pupil.

This movie is trying to combine kung fu with cooking, in the same way, that in Shaolin Soccer it combined kung fu with soccer.

The CGI effects were a bit far-fetched, but the preparation of the food is great and it looks great too. Yet the tone of Kung Fu Chefs is often way too dramatic and takes itself far too seriously, especially for this subject matter - this film would have worked better had it been released back in the 1980s as an action comedy amongst the Michael Hui effort, Chicken & Duck Talk. 

The supermarket fight was a highlight, but other than that, the action is mostly sparse and reduced to 3 or 4 fights and the film loses its way during the mid-range point. The fight sequences themselves are not bad but they are not of the quality of '70s, 80s and 90s martial arts action movies, the cooking is great, but the actual story is not very entertaining; in fact, I found it boring but for the last 20 mins of the film. The performances were enjoyable, especially by Sammo Hung, but for the lacklustre script, which let them and this film down. To balance things out, young actors and pop stars were drafted in to pick up the slack, as well as to appeal towards younger audiences. Some of the performances were, as I said, enjoyable in parts, but they didn't make the desired impact this film really needed. Also, the villain himself is a total bore and I didn't care for him.

But for the presentable food, bad guys with large blades and kung fu, there is no real feeling to be had for the story and as it progressed, the more disinterested I became. You can have as many fighting and cooking scenes in a film, so long as the story is coherent and still makes an impression on you and makes you invest interest into it. However, Kung Fu Chefs lacks that fundamental element to making it totally worth seeing.

All that along with the off-key and sloppy editing and over-the-top usage of CGI didn't do the film many favours either.

Final Verdict:

I was really looking forward to Kung Fu Chefs, but unfortunately, in the end, it was a major disappointment, mostly dry all round and the tone of the film just wasn't the right fit for it. It should have functioned as an action comedy, with a far more engrossing story.

Kung Fu Chefs is not completely unwatchable: the supermarket fight was all right and even in a not so good movie, Sammo Hung and his presence makes it just about watchable in places.

But with a lot more work going into it, with the comedic and story aspects, this effort would have turned out way better than the actual end product did.


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