Film review: Cook Up a Storm – Nicholas Tse, Jung Yong-hwa face off in culinary comedy
Director Raymond Yip dishes up a tested recipe that nourishes but with extra ingredients of Hong Kong’s property development and the city’s crumbling architectural heritage
The culinary strengths of East and West go head-to-head in Raymond Yip’s cheerfully frivolous new comedy, when a high-end French restaurant opens on the same Hong Kong street as a traditional dai pai dong.
Though celebrated in their respective fields, no-frills street cook Sky (Nicholas Tse) and Michelin-approved chef Paul (South Korean Jung Yong-hwa) just can’t seem to get along, so when they both qualify for a high-stakes competition in Macau, the stage is set for a definitive cook-off.
Sky has managed to find a meaningful teacher in Uncle Seven (Ge You), but remains haunted by the memory of his father (Anthony Wong), a celebrity chef now revered as the “God of Cookery”, who abandoned him at a young age for being a poor cook. Meanwhile, Paul harbours a shocking secret that could jeopardise his internationally celebrated career as a master of new culinary technologies.
Following a long tradition in Hong Kong cinema, the film’s cooking sequences are staged almost as martial arts bouts, choreographed with precision and dexterity that are as elegant as inevitably mouth-watering.
Beyond the familiar rivalry between tradition and innovation, the film also tackles Hong Kong’s perennial hot-button issue of property development. The opening of Cueillette d’Etoiles is seen as an immediate threat to Seven Dai Pai Dong, especially as its wealthy owners look to take over all of Spring Avenue.
Recognition should also be given to the single, elaborately designed set where much of the action plays out, highlighting the rich tapestry of architectural styles so crucial to Hong Kong’s identity, yet in serious danger of being lost.
As a result, Cook Up A Storm proves almost reassuringly formulaic, whipping up a tried-and-tested recipe that, while unlikely to attract viewers beyond the local crowd, is nonetheless a nourishing and satisfying diversion.
Cook Up a Storm opens on February 10
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