Cook Up a Storm (決戰食神) is a Hong Kong movie specially catered to premiere during Lunar Chinese New Year early this year 2017. The comedy film comprise of various actors from different country and Chinese regions. We have actor Nicholas Tse from Hong Kong, Jung Yong Hwa of CNBLUE from South Korea, Ge You and Tiffany Tang from China.
It has been a long time since I have watched a Hong Kong movie. They haven’t made many quality movies or dramas, and hence, we broke up. If it weren’t for Jung Yong Hwa and his disappearance from the screen for almost 3 years, I wouldn’t be bothered. Besides, from the preview trailer, the show didn’t look that bad…
Paul Ahn (Jung Yong Hwa) is a Korean-Chinese chef who excels in French cuisine. He decided to take up an offer as the executive chef in a newly open French restaurant in Hong Kong. His girlfriend/assistant chef Mi Yu (Michelle Bai) also follows.
Opposite Paul’s restaurant is a 30 years old Chinese restaurant owned by Uncle Qi (Ge You), but currently run by his student, Gao Tian Ci (Nicholas Tse). Paul and Tian Ci’s rivalry began on the day they first met at the fish market, and it worsen when customers from both sides hinder each others’ businesses. At the very same time, the neighbourhood is undergoing redevelopment, the old shops and restaurants are threathened to relocate, including Qi Restaurant.
Both Paul and Tian Ci coincidentally join a cooking contest, hence it was decided that the winner gets to stay and loser must pack their bags and close the restaurant. However, Tian Ci had another reason for joining the contest; he wanted to prove himself to his father, Gao Feng (Anthony Wong), the 2 consecutive winner and holder of the title, Culinary God.
First off, so glad to see Yong Hwa on screen acting again after The Three Musketeers. More good news is looks like he will return with a 12 episodes drama, The Package, to be air on jTBC. It’s pre-produced; he and his co-stars have already completed filming so let’s hope the show get an air date soon. 🙂
The not-so-great and the bad parts:
After not watching any Hong Kong movies for over 10 years, I kind of wish they would give me something new and refreshing. That didn’t happen. The execution of the plot is very typical and the only solution the scriptwriter can come up with solving the problem is—let’s have both chefs do a one-on-one on knife skills in the middle of the street. Like really? It’s sooo…I don’t know, gangster style? It reminds me of Young & Dangerous where all characters in it can’t sit down and communicate, everything must be solved with a fist and knife. In this instance, there was no fighting between the chefs, but the people around them would have and behave just like thugs. I am hardly convinced a well-educated man and a 3-stars chef would agree to showcase his skills on a middle of the street. Surely Paul has more class than this!
I wonder if Yong Hwa is cursed in his acting career. In the beginning of his projects, his characters seem equally as important as the leading actor, but when we reach the latter half, his presence or character’s story diminished and his screen time reduced. It’s the same for this movie, too. It would have been more interesting if Paul and Tian Ci inspire each other and work together to create a fusion of Chinese-French cuisine, and prove themselves against those who betray or look down on them. I didn’t mind they added the father and son’s story, but shift in focus in the end to the whole father and son’s contest was ridiculous. One of the problems with Hong Kong movies is their obsession in always making their main lead ‘look cool’ that they forget in certain scenarios, there are other aspects more important that one must uphold i.e. a professional chef should show his professionalism, respect and good ethics. Tian Ci walked off the stage twice in two separate contests. He should have been disqualified on the account of disrespecting his fellow opponenets, the panel judges, the cooking contest organisation and audiences. Even though this is ‘a show’, I can’t overlook the director’s execution of both these scenes. The attempt of looking cool actually makes his character comes off offensively impolite.
There is no lasting strong impression in the acting department. The script lacks depth and innovation. But it’s actually not that bad of a movie, and it’s a no brainer sort of entertainment good for relaxing and winding down an exhausting day. But it’s just not a movie where you would go away feeling ‘Wow, that’s awesome’ and want to go back for more. It was forgettable. I do, however, like the presentation of the food—Chinese or French, either way, I wouldn’t mind be the judges on the panel.