Liu, who (per the movies prologue) lost out in a contest five years ago against the same Mainlander, is now an alcoholic derelict. Hawling him back to Hong Kong, Sun and Ka-wai race to rehone his five key senses so he can rep Aus eatery in the contest, based on three dishes (bear paw, elephant trunk, monkey brains) in the famed, multicourse Qing & Han Imperial Feast. Pic is essentially a modern-day version of the rival-schools costume dramas, with cooking skills replacing martial arts expertise. In between, however, Tsui has some pre-97 sport showing disorganized but fast-thinking Hong Kongers teaching a few things to humorless, arrogant Mainlanders. The movie also pushes a philosophy that runs through many of Tsuis pictures: that success in any endeavor can only be achieved by group effort. Cheung and Yuen show fine screen chemistry here, with the former clearly having a ball goofing around, and the latter giving a passable impression of Chung King Express discovery Faye Wong in red hair and loopy clothes. Production values, from the gorgeous main title onwards, are top of the line and, as in that great other Chinese food movie, Eat Drink Man Woman, the vittles look good enough to, well, eat. Derek Elley

Liu, who (per the movies prologue) lost out in a contest five years ago against the same Mainlander, is now an alcoholic derelict. Hawling him back to Hong Kong, Sun and Ka-wai race to rehone his five key senses so he can rep Aus eatery in the contest, based on three dishes (bear paw, elephant trunk, monkey brains) in the famed, multicourse Qing & Han Imperial Feast. Pic is essentially a modern-day version of the rival-schools costume dramas, with cooking skills replacing martial arts expertise. In between, however, Tsui has some pre-97 sport showing disorganized but fast-thinking Hong Kongers teaching a few things to humorless, arrogant Mainlanders. The movie also pushes a philosophy that runs through many of Tsuis pictures: that success in any endeavor can only be achieved by group effort. Cheung and Yuen show fine screen chemistry here, with the former clearly having a ball goofing around, and the latter giving a passable impression of Chung King Express discovery Faye Wong in red hair and loopy clothes. Production values, from the gorgeous main title onwards, are top of the line and, as in that great other Chinese food movie, Eat Drink Man Woman, the vittles look good enough to, well, eat. Derek Elley

The Chinese Feast

(HONG KONG)

Production

A Mandarin Films, Film Workshop production. Produced by Wong Hark-hoi, Raymond Wong. Executive producers, Wong, Tsui Hark. Directed by Tsui Hark. Screenplay, Tsui, Ng Man-fai, Tseng Tsung-tai.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Peter Pau; editor, Mak Tsi-sin; music, Lowell Lo; production design, William Chang; food design, Tsui, Chang, Man Nim-tsung; stunt director, Yuen Pan; assistant directors, Tsui On, Cindy Chan; second unit camera, Poon Hang-seng. Reviewed on Eastern Heroes vidcassette, London, July 27, 1996. (In AFI/L.A. Film Festival.) Running time: 107 MIN.

With

With: Leslie Cheung, Anita Yuen, Kenny Bee, Ni Shu-chun, Lo Ka-ying, Zhao Wenzhuo, Hung Yan-yan. (Cantonese & Mandarin dialogue) Hong Kong helmer Tsui Hark is in top form with The Chinese Feast, a comic kung-food movie about dueling chefs thats funny, skillful and a heart-warmer to boot. Pic lacks the sheer action smarts to break out theatrically in the West, but is a tasty treat for aficionados of eastern fare and could clock up some business on video. On home territory, where it bowed in early 95, the movie temporarily restored Tsuis B.O. fortunes between the two flops Once Upon a Time in China V and Love in the Time of Twilight. Leslie Cheung toplines as Sun, a Hong Kong debt collector and full-time cheat whose dream is to be a master chef. Signing on at the restaurant of Master Au, he immediately creates chaos in the kitchen, as well as getting entangled with Aus ditzy daughter, Ka-wai (Anita Yuen). When Au is challenged to a culinary contest by an arrogant Mainland chef (Zhao Wenzhuo), but has a heart attack, Sun and Ka-wai try to save the day by tracking down Master Liu (Kenny Bee) across the border in Canton.
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