The Movie: Cook Up a Storm (决战食神)
The Director: Wai Man Yip
The Cast: Nicholas Tse, Jung Yong-hwa, Yan Tang, Bing Bai, Anthony Wong, and You Ge.
The Story: A Cantonese street cook and his chief rival, a French-trained Michelin-starred chef, discover they have a lot in common as they prepare for a world-famous culinary competition. imdb.com
So, when I arrived at the movie theater on a cold, rainy Saturday night, I was planning on making a choice between two other movies, but when I saw that this one was playing, I made a last minute decision to check it out. Sometimes knowing absolutely nothing about a movie makes for a much better experience over having to live through endless amounts of hype and expectation for weeks or month's before a film's release. As the lights went down and the movie began to play, I quickly realized that having eaten dinner shortly beforehand was a great move. The colorful culinary visions put on screen by director Wai Man Yip would make any person swoon with mouth watering delight.
The story, written by long time Hong Kong entertainment personality Manfred Wong, is pretty straight forward and focuses on time tested topics of family, friendship, and community versus the machinery of progress. The classic underdog story pits a Cantonese street food chef versus a French trained, Michelin Star rated chef in a contest that could decide the fate of a long standing neighborhood marketplace.
The primary players are played by Nicholas Tse and Jung Yong-hwa with a supporting cast that includes standout performances from veteran actors You Ge and Anthony Wong. It's also nice to see Yan Tang's character portrayed as a smart and savvy business owner rather than relegating her to generic love interest status. My only complaint is that both she and Bing Bai end up being underutilized and it feels like there should have been more time spent on developing their respective characters. That being said, there is a lot going on in the story so there had to be some compromise when it came to character development.
Cook Up a Storm is a visual treat with a fun, feel good story that will have you scrambling for the nearest restaurant to satisfy the inevitable cravings you will have from watching all the brilliant dishes being made.