God Of Cookery (1996)

Directed by: Stephen Chow & Lee Lik-Chi
Written by: Stephen Chow, Vincent Kok, Tsang Kan-Cheung & Liu Man Sang
Producers: Stephen Chow & Yeung Kwok-Fai
Starring: Stephen Chow, Karen Mok, Vincent Kok & Ng Man Tat

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards 1997:
Best Actress (Karen Mok)

Nomination at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards 1997:
Best Actress (Karen Mok)

Stephen Chow plays Stephen Chow or the "God Of Cookery" as he is more widely known as. During the years on that throne he has turned into an arrogant and bullying asshole who has lost all love for cooking. During the opening of one of his new products, an apparently harmless employee of his confronts him about his cooking skills. That man is Bull Tong (Vincent Kok, the director of Gorgeous) and in front of all reporters he makes a fool out of Stephen and crowns himself as the new "God Of Cookery". Stephen flees and ends up in the more seedy parts of Hong Kong. Here he meets Turkey (Karen Mok from King Of Comedy) and together they come up with an idea that may bring Stephen back to the spotlight again...

The combination of the two directors Stephen Chow & Lee Lik-Chi is apparently a good one. They have to date collaborated on two other projects (From Beijing With Love & King Of Comedy) which have been received pretty well by fans and critics. I think Stephen benefits from having a more experienced director by his side to help him realize his often crazy and insane ideas and in this movie they make stuff work that really shouldn't. For example the movie will shift from comedy to kind of sappy drama but the later element may as well by a comedy bit. Regardless of what, that aspect does work.

The plot of God Of Cookery is almost always pretty straight narrative wise but it works thanks to a nicely paced and witty screenplay. Stephen Chow was by this time no stranger to comedy and had established his way of doing it. Some parts of previous movies had contained some verbal humour that doesn't really translate well to non-Cantonese speakers and we do find that here in just a few scenes. The rest is pretty much straightforward physical and universal verbal humour. Stephen acts with a lot of confidence and is more held back and natural here but he still manages to make us laugh ourselves silly on many occasions.

Karen Mok got a well earned nomination for her role as Turkey, which happens to be a huge admirer of the "God Of Cookery". She is not only a yearning and ugly girl but she displays a nice streetsmart persona and a toughness during a confrontation in the film. She and Stephen have a strange but compelling chemistry here and they once again acted together in the 1999 film King Of Comedy.

Vincent Kok is not only an actor but has also produced, written and directed on a few occasions. If you check out the credits for such films as 2002 and Gorgeous, you will find him there. His part here is not an original one but he is pretty fun and entertaining to watch and he sure looks like he's having fun acting against Stephen. As usual Ng Man Tat shows up in an almost unrecognizable part (sans mustache). To be honest, he isn't very memorable but by now no Stephen Chow film is complete without his presence. In funny cameos we also see Lau Yee Tat (from Juliet In Love) and Law Kar-Ying (from 2002).

Poon Kin Gwam has once again a martial arts directing credit but it's not really a whole lot of that stuff to direct. Instead he's responsible for the cooking scenes and food duels and he does it with style and coolness. The highlight of his work comes during the movies climax and it sure has the feeling of a kung fu-fight anyway. The look of God Of Cookery is also very good thanks to experienced DP and director Jingle Ma (he directed Tokyo Raiders). Mostly the movie has a very warm and almost orange colurscheme but night scenes in particular has that wonderful blue light to it.

God Of Cookery has a running time of 96 minutes and they fly by quite fast. During that time we've been greatly entertained and if you're looking for a Stephen Chow-movie outside of Shaolin Soccer, I recommend this one.

The DVD:

Universe presents the movie in it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It's a pretty clean print with good colours and detail but all the way through there lies a softness to it. That could partly lie in the cinematography though.

The Cantonese and Mandarin tracks comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds pretty good actually. I'm pretty sure these are not remixes from mono sources so the sound is more balanced. Music and effects spreads itself out to a pleasant degree but it drowned out the dialogue a little bit a few times.

The English subtitles are easy to read and as usual has the odd sentence or two. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles also come as options for those who need it.

In the extras department there's nothing new. Decent Star Files for Stephen Chow, Karen Mok & Vincent Kok along with trailers for God Of Cookery, King Of Comedy & The King Of Debt Collecting Agent are included.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson