Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Lady Iron Chef (Hong Kong 2007)

The Lady Iron Chef (Mei nui sik sung) plays on the popularity of the TVB cooking show "Beautiful Cooking", and also serves as the latest movie from director Siu-hung Chung. Beer girl and part-time model Ceci (Charmaine Sheh) has flat out terrible cooking skills. She is well known for turning even instant noodles into something inedible. Ceci meets and falls in love with wealthy SK (Hacken Lee), an heir to a restaurant empire, but his dominating mother (Bonnie Wong) disapproves of their relationship. She would prefer her son to marry the gourmet chef Jade Rice (Liu Yang). Ceci's dad Souza (Wong Jing) is hoping that his daughter will be able to marry SK, because it's his one-way ticket out of the poorhouse. In order to win over SK's mother, Ceci must beat Jade who is pretty much an unstoppable juggernaut of cooking might! This doesn't sit well with Lady Green (Yuen Qiu), who has an old rivalry with Jade's father and just so happened to once have a "thing" with Ceci's father as well. With the final championship just a month away, will Lady Green's training and Ceci's love for SK be enough to beat Jade and impress SK's mother?

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that's so, then director Siu-hung Chung loves Stephen Chow and his favorite movie of all time has to be God of Cookery. So comparisons to the Stephen Chow classic not withstanding, let's just see what didn't work with Lady Iron. There are a lot of gags and ideas that are rehashed from God of Cookery, but they seem so rushed and poorly executed. The impossible meals are funny at times and some of character's reactions are amusing as well. So this shows us that the idea of people dueling with gourmet dishes can be entering... if done right. That's really where Lady Iron hits that "all-too-familiar" brick wall that we see in Hong Kong cinema as of late. The production comes across as weak, creating so much inconsistency that any potential good ideas just fall flat. The hi-jinks are laced with cheesy CG effects, while relying heavily on incredibly campy jokes and way over-used sound effects that are more annoying than funny. The acting (or lack there of) isn't a selling point either, making it hard to believe that any surprises could possibly be waiting for you in the end. In a movie where you have, more or less, a remake of an idea, they could of least made it enjoyable to watch. In the end, the subject matter doesn't deserve the blame, just the way it was handled. That's ultimatley what makes Lady Iron just too hard to swallow. (Converter)

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