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God of Cookery, The

Hong Kong (1996), 96 minutes
Starring: Stephen Chow, Karen Mok, and Vincent Kok
Reviewer: Val Frost
Genre: Comedy
Stephen Chow (who directed and starred in the wonderful Shaolin Soccer) plays, er, Stephen Chow, the cocky God of Cookery, or master chef. He owns a chain of restaurants and judges frou-frou cooking contests. He is set-up one day by a business partner (Man Tat Ng) and a cooking assistant, Bull (Vincent Kok), and loses his restaurants and reputation. Out of luck and out of money, he joins forces with a female street vender named Turkey (played by Karen Mok), and together they create “Explosive Pissing Beef Balls.” The dish is a hit and Chow soon works his way back up the ladder of cooking prestige to find himself in a contest with his one-time assistant, Bull.

Corrupt and cruel, Chow bullies his employees, implements uncomfortable eating conditions for his customers (so they will eat more, faster, then leave), and pays off the contestants in the cooking contest to keep them under his control. He tells them during the contest that they need “heart” in order to be a good cook. But Chow has none, which is why his own cooking tastes crappy.Chow is on his game here as an asshole chef. We first meet him halfway though the story as he sits at Turkey’s noodle stand complaining about the food. Turkey ignores him until he reveals himself to be the God of Cookery, the object of her affection for many years. Turkey has been disfigured from a street brawl years ago and ain’t no looker. Chow rejects her advances – even goes so far as running away, trying to find The Chinese Cooking Academy so he may improve his cooking skills. The film then flashes back to show just how Chow ended up at the noodle stand and in his current position.

There are some hysterical moments in the film; one in particular is when a “nice and gentle” fan gives flowers to Chow at a restaurant opening. The final cooking contest is long but is full of over-the-top jokes dealing with Shaolin Kung Fu, a dancing judge, exploding cooking pots, and a folding chair. The end resolution is a bit too quick, but is but a trifle to the rest of the film.