Gong fu chu shen (Kung Fu Chefs, 2009, China)

I admit I have never see more than a few seconds of any of the shiny cooking competitions on TV, like Iron Chefs. Thus I was quite absorbed I the over the top food frenzy displayed in Kung Fu Chefs this ultralight Chinese comedy that seemed to be mocking that distant world, while sinking deep into it. Besides not being familiar with the setting or the genre, therefore probably missing a lot of the inside jokes, none of the actors were familiar to me either. I hear that some of them are well-known in other parts of the world.

The story is simple enough: a renegade cooking student and master chef who was betrayed and had to leave his original restaurant in shame team up to save a good, but not the best restaurant and its reputation in an almost fixed cooking contest. There is a love interest of course, an evil cousin and a mysterious brother too. There is a lot of spectacular action in the kitchen, but only a few fights and even those were not as well choreographed as the culinary action.

There is also a lesson of simplicity that Confucian would have like,although it was covered with so much gloss that it contradicted the rest of the movie. The heart (and probably the most expensive to shoot) of the flick were the competition scenes. The huge bird cage for the ingredients, the classic bird-in-a-bird-in-a-bird dish,the stove that was heating every side of the pot at the same time, were the highlights of the visuals.

It was the best movie for the flight I took, although it made me hungrier than the skimpy portions provided on board could satisfy.

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