The Chinese Feast Review: Tsui Hark’s Lunar New Year Comedy turns out to be enjoyable fluff

This popular Lunar New Year Comedy has major stars and a major director who join forces to produce major silliness. When restaurateur Law Kar-Ying gets challenged by Xiong Xin-Xin to a winner-take-all cooking contest. He foolishly accepts and then gets a stroke. Fittingly, it falls upon the shoulders of wacky daughter Anita Yuen and ex-triad cook Leslie Cheung to get the job done. But the goal is to cook the legendary Qin Han feast. Which is simply beyond their meager skills.

In need of help, the two go to rival cook Zhao Wen-Zhou (Trieu Van Trac) who also can’t cook the feast. However, he does know someone who can: legendary Master Chef Kit (Kenny Bee). However, Kit has hit rock bottom. Now a grocery stock boy in Guangzhou. He has lost his sense of taste and smell. What he needs is retraining in the arts, as well as a reunion with his estranged wife. And he needs to practice cooking.

As you’d expect from a Tsui Hark comedy, The Chinese Feast(Kim Ngoc Man Duong) possesses slapstick, nonsensical silliness. But also a genuinely engaging breeziness. His characters are types well-played by their chosen actors. Kenny Bee and Zhao Wen-Zhou provide requisite presence, and Anita Yuen turns in a delightfully playful, silly performance. If anyone sags in this production, it’s megastar Leslie Cheung (Truong Quoc Vinh), who overacts miserably. As usual he plays a bad boy, and does so unconvincingly.

This film also possesses incredible production values and phenomenal cinematography. Especially for a Hong Kong film. That helps compensate for the film’s aimless first half. Which plods along with random shtick until the cooking challenge is finally issued. The cooking itself is easily best part of the film. Exotic ingredients, showy cooking techniques. And a sports-film like construction help make this a genuinely agreeable and fun time at the movies. And you’ll get hungry.

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