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  Publicity Stills of
"Kung Fu Chefs"
(Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films)

In Mandarin with Chinese and English Subtitles
Martial Arts/Comedy
Director: Yip Wing Kin
Cast: Sammo Hung, Vanness Wu, Cherrie Ying, Kago Ai, Hung Tin Ming, Lam Tze Chung, Louis Fan, Bruce Leung
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 26 February 2009



Jo had kept hatred in his heart for a very long time and did what he could to oust his Uncle Wong Bing-Yi (Sammo Hung) from the village and to claim the rights to the "Dragon-Head Cleaver", a symbol of power to the clan. As Wong Bing-Yi was forced out of the village, he encountered Shen Qing (Cherrie Ying) by chance and was determined to help her during the troubled times at her restaurant "Four Seas".

Here, he discovered a young cooking wonder, Lung Kin-Yat (Vanness Wu). To bring "Four Seas" back to the top, Lung ends up representing "Four Seas" to the competition against Chef Tin (Lam Tze Chung), two times "Top Chef" winner and the head chef at "Imperial Palace", the restaurant owned by Jo.

Lung shined by overcoming many obstacles and preparing a dish called "Fresh Water Bak-Choy" just as his master, Wong Bing-Yi had taught him. However, the head judge has been bribed by "Imperial Palace" and he is also the master of Chef Tin. Who will finally win the title of "Top Chef"? Can the "Kung Fu Chef" finally win over the hearts of many?

Movie Review:

It’s not enough that we already have Kung Fu Mahjong, Kung Fu Dunk or Kung Fu Hip Hop. Someone had to go take a stab at Kung Fu Chefs. It makes one wonder: Have the filmmakers in Hong Kong so run out of ideas that they need to resort to adding kung fu into anything they can lay their hands on? From the looks of this abysmal film, it appears so.

In “Kung Fu Chefs”, Sammo Hung stars as disgraced chef Wong Bing-Yi who by chance runs into a young, arrogant and egotistic upstart Lung Kin-Yat (Vanness Wu) at a restaurant called the “Four Seas”. The female boss (Cherrie Ying) of the “Four Seas” recognises Chef Wong’s talent and invites him to be the head chef of her beleaguered restaurant. Just as well for Lung- who implores Chef Wong to take him on as disciple and gradually makes his way into the “Top Chef” culinary competition.

If the storyline sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen it in many similar culinary-themed movies. So like Stephen Chow’s God of Cookery or the Korean film Le Grand Chef, the dishonoured chef will eventually reclaim his honour through imparting his skills to the young protégé. In fact, “Kung Fu Chefs” seems to have taken more than just a page from Le Grand Chef. Like its far superior Korean counterpart, there’s also a rusty blade (known here as the Dragon Head Cleaver) that magically comes to life in the hands of a true culinary master.

No wonder then that with such a lack of imagination, the filmmakers had to resort to adding kung fu into the mix. And hence in between the many pretty cookery scenes, you get to see Sammo Hung and Vanness Wu fight with the many undifferentiated villiains in the movie- including one played by Sammo’s own son Timmy Hung. Although the result is an uneven combination, one must be thankful for the fighting sequences that innervate the otherwise comatose movie.  

Besides Sammo Hung and Vanness Wu (both of which actually can fight), there’s also a who’s who from “Ip Man” in various bit roles (like Fan Siu Wong as what else but the baddie again). Indeed, it is these veterans that keep the action real and exciting enough, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it thrilling.

It is when the movie wants to be a comedy/ romance that it falls apart. Not only is there little chemistry (and hence little believability) between Vanness Wu and Ai Kago’s romance subplot, the two are most annoying when they try to be humorous. In particular, Vanness Wu’s first big-screen comedic role is filled with plenty of cringe-worthy moments that perhaps only his most hardcore fans will find endearing.

But of course, it is probably Sammo Hung’s name that most people will be going to see this movie for. And as always, he brings an air of dignity and respect to this undeserving movie. At the age of 57, you have to give credit to the big guy who is still working hard kicking and getting kicked, punching and getting punched. Still one good ingredient does not a good dish make- and here’s one dish you should safely give a miss.

Movie Rating:

(This mishmash of food and kung-fu is more chop-sucky than chop-yummy)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. Ip Man (2008)

. Fatal Move (2008)

. Twins Mission (2007)

. SPL (2006)

. Wheels On Meals DVD (1984)

. Dragons Forever DVD (1998)

. Kung Fu Hustle (Blu-ray) (2004)


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