Chinese Feast, The (1995)

June 30, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Leslie stars as a reckless young chef in training who, with the help of master cook Cheu Man-check (Wong Fei-Hung in the last two installments of the Once Upon a Time in China series), do battle with bear claws, flying people and Chinese haute cuisine.

chinesefeast2Tsui Hark’s ritzy-ditzy, star-filled comedy about the joys of kung fu cooking pits master chefs against one another in an epic battle over some truly amazing entrees: things like roasted polar-bear paw in honey, steamed elephant-trunk-and-shark-skin-soup, and chilled monkey brains. Leslie Cheung, Anita Yuen, Zhao Wen Zhuo, and Kenny Bee act crazy in this virtually incoherent movie, but it’s mouth-watering and pretty fun.

chinesefeast3Side note: This lunar new year’s comedy tried hard to give audiences a lot for their bucks, including mixing in kung fu. But the actual battle bewteen Zhao Wen Zhuo and Xin Xiong Xiong (perhaps anticipating their stunning duel at the end of Tsui Hark’s later masterpiece, The Blade?) is missing from most cuts of the film besides the Malaysian DVD edition.


chinesefeast1“It’s reasonable to say that ‘The Chinese Feast’ combines elements that are inherent in Hong Kong cinema and perhaps unique; the ever-popular master/student relationship is something that is lifted from the martial arts genre as is the scenes of prowess here used in relation to cooking. These highly entertaining portions of the film are bonuses in what is an outstanding comedy and another fine Hong Kong ensemble piece. The film’s casting is exceptional with memorable performances by Leslie Cheung, Lo Ka Ying, Kenny Bee and Anita Yuen; also to be noted is the chance for new-wave martial arts stars Chiu Man Cheuk and Hung Yan Yan to shine in very polished roles. It’s no surprise that this Tsui Hark comedy was a box-office smash as it allows the viewer to enjoy superior character interaction and sharp comic routines. These moments of humour that frequent the film are more accessible to a Western audience than the wordplay of Chow Sing-Chi, but no less amusing and certainly still firmly Eastern in style. Tsui Hark also makes sure that, as with the other hits he’s been at the helm of, there is some wild action – in this instance it’s the mouth-watering food prepartion that is the film’s centrepiece. This film is a comic feast, a visual feast and cinematic feast – a definte must-see.”
— Andrew Saroch, Dragon’s Den UK

“”Iron Chef” Hong Kong style, THE CHINESE FEAST is the nutty New Testament of gourmet food worship.”
—Grady Hendrix, Subway Cinema

“Hark does for Chinese cooking what Busby Berkeley did for showgirls. [This] ultra-wacky action-comedy will work simultaneously on your nervous and digestive systems.”
—Barry Walters, San Francisco Examiner

“The film is an exuberant and high-spirited comedy with dazzling, fast-paced cooking scenes subbing for action sequences.,, a real tour de force.”
—Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

” The Chinese Feast is driven by an infectious sense of mania.”
—Joey O’Bryan, Austin Chronicle

Director: Tsui Hark
Script: Tsui Hark, Ng Man-Fai, Cheng Chung-Tai
Producer: Raymond Wong Bak-Ming
Action: Yuen Bun

Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing, Anita Yuen Wing-Yee, Kenny Bee, Zhao Wen-Zhou, Law Kar-Ying, Xiong Xin-Xin, Joyce Ngai Suk-Kwan, Fan Yik-Man, Raymond Wong Bak-Ming, Tsui Hark

Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Running Time: 108 min

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