The Chinese Feast: ”It’s not the best of the best, but it’s not bad at all. Being used to the best, it’s hard to appreciate the rest”.

Year:1995
Directed by Tsui Hark
Produced by Tsui Hark, Raymond Wong, and Lee Ling

Written by Philip Cheng, Ng Man-Fai, Tsui Hark and Yuen Kai-Chi
Cast: Leslie Cheung,Anita Yuen,Kenny Bee, Law Kar-ying

Two lazy cooks look for the help of a washed up chef to win a contest where the fate of their restaurant hangs in the balance.

 

The Chinese Feast is Tsui Hark’s delight romp of great cuisine and laughs. But, the movie lacks any direction until close to the halfway point of the story. The hard hitting drama of the prologue disappears for a great bit. Until then, it’s balls to the wall typical Hong Kong wackiness. Look at the comically oversized fish as the proof of this. The many comedic high jinks in the first half could be distracting and feel ultimately redundant.   These moments feel random; however, it does feel inlined with the fun spirit of the movie.
Leslie Cheung and Anita Yuen are both here at the peak of the popularity probably. I’m not sure if the loveable jerk is Leslie’s thing, but he nails it here.
Anita Yuen plays the bubbly and zany persona that made her famous here well. But, this time she wears a red wig that makes her look like a live action anime character. The pair aren’t exactly walking examples of romantic chemistry, but there is a certain playfulness between them that makes their interactions fun. The plot only kicks in high gear when these two link up with Kit, the disgraced chef. Kit’s reconnection with his former wife happens awfully quick, but it’s done well enough to be touching. The drama does feel a bit alien with the otherwise quirky overtone, but I fear without the drama; it would probably feel like a spoof film of sorts. Vincent Zhao’s character is surprisingly very endearing despite not having much screen time. I enjoyed his mentor-like role and caring nature. It probably naturally stems from the fact that Zhao had played Wong Fei Hung recently at the time.
If there is anything that The Chinese Feast should be commended for; it should be for the creative display of various Chinese cuisine in such a dexterous manner. The dishes may be too creative to be possible in the real world. Regardless, the sheer creativity on display is too mesmerizing. The dramatic exposition furthers the tension and awesomeness of the cooking.

 

Like the quirky dish from the movie itself; The Chinese Feast is a hodgepodge of ingredients that probably look like they don’t belong together. Yet, there is an everlasting fun in seeing these ingredients come together. The Chinese Feast is fun to look at and fun to watch as well.

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