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Film / Cook Up A Storm

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Cook Up a Storm (决战食神, literally: "Clash of the Culinary Gods") is a 2017 Hong Kong-Chinese film starring Nicholas Tse and Jung Yong-hwa.

  • Artistic License – History: Paul's introductory scene has him serving the Czech royal family in Ploskovice Chateau as they celebrate the birth of their son, although the Czech lands (formerly known as the Bohemian lands) has no royal family at present since the Bohemian monarchy was abolished in 1918.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Paul is a mild-mannered and gentle young man, but he doesn't hesitate to give a mean headbutt to the head of the Li Group and breaking the man's nose in the process when the latter insults him one time too many.
    • After winning the semi-finals, Paul turns to look at Mi Yu, who cannot bring herself to look at him as she's too embarrassed from her loss and how her betrayal was for naught. He doesn't bother to even offer a few words or even a gesture of comfort to his ex-girlfriend and no longer pays any attention to her, letting her live with the humiliation.
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  • But Not Too Foreign: Paul Ahn is half-Korean, half-Chinese.
  • Cool Uncle: After Tianci's father abandoned him, his uncle took Tianci under his wing and taught him everything he knows about cooking. As such, Tianci holds his uncle in high regard.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Paul gets inebriated after he gets screwed over by the Li Group. Tianci finds him drinking, and after they talk and find some common ground, they start hurling their bottles at a poster of Gao Feng.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Tianci is able to prevent his hometown from being torn down and renovated and gets to keep his restaurant; not to mention, he finally gets his father's approval that he is a good and worthy chef. Although Paul is horribly betrayed by the company he represents and by his own girlfriend, he manages to get even with them both in the Culinary Competition and finds his place in Tianci's community.
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  • Enemy Mine: Downplayed. After the Li Group causes a fuss at the Seven restaurant, Paul declares that he will compete with Tianci in the Culinary Competition, and explains to Tianci's friends and family that part of his motive for doing so is to get back at the Li Group for double-crossing him. Uncle Seven replies, "You're the enemy's enemy, and that makes you our friend." The trope is downplayed since Paul is now completely on Tianci's side after this, and in the Training Montage that follows after, it's shown that the Seven community quickly warms to Paul, who's also shown to be comfortable with their company.
  • Foil: Both Tianci and Paul aspire to be exemplary chefs, and it has something to do with their father, though the differentiating factor is that in Paul's case, he wants to honor his father's dying wish of him becoming a great chef. On the other hand, Tianci's father believed that he had no aptitude and cooking and abandoned him to focus solely on his cooking career, and Tianci is determined to prove his father wrong.
  • Fanservice: The dancers in the opening for Stellar and the Culinary Competition
  • Food Porn: It's a culinary drama film, so this trope is only a given, especially when there are many scenes featuring mouth-watering food, both simple and complex, being served.
  • Good Old Ways: From the plating to the ingredients, Tianci refuses to change anything about the otherwise excellent and refined food he makes, despite everyone from his rival, to his friends, to even his beloved Uncle Seven who taught him how to cook goading him to evolve and experiment. There's evidence to suggest that he clings so fiercely to traditionalism as a source of comfort and stability in lieu of his father who left him to journey the world to become a better and more innovative chef. This mindset is what ultimately costs him his climactic duel with Paul, as while the salt-baked duck he prepared was superb, it did nothing bold or new, which Paul's entry did while also being delicious.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • Played with in Mi Yu's case. Although she keeps a stoic front when Paul and Tianci are announced to be the winners of the semi-finals, it's very obvious that she is not happy about the results, being close to tears and refusing to make eye contact with Paul.
    • After Tianci and Paul win the semi-finals, they know that only one of them can face against Gao Feng in the final round. Paul doesn't hesitate to tell Tianci to compete for two reasons: one, Paul's impaired taste will only hurt his chances of winning in the competition, and two, Gao Feng is Tianci's father — hence it only makes sense that the latter is the one who participates in the last cook-off.
    • In the past, Gao Feng berated Tianci and said that he'd never be able to make a decent bowl of noodles even if he tried, calling him talentless. Years later, in the final round of the Culinary Competition, Tianci prepares a bowl of noodles for his father. Upon tasting it and finding it absolutely delicious, he doesn't hesitate to eat the rest of the bowl with gusto, even telling his son "Well done," before the latter leaves the stage.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: In one scene, Paul swears in his native Korean and Tianci repeats after him.
  • Gratuitous French: The menu for Stellar is written entirely in French.
  • Handicapped Badass: Paul rightfully earned his reputation as a world-class chef, although what holds him back is that he's not able to detect key tastes (such as saltiness) in food, which requires him to write down any successful recipe he makes so that he will know exactly what works and what doesn't. When he tries Tianci's beef dish, he doesn't mention how it tastes but compliments the texture.
  • Humble Hero: Both Tianci and Paul are talented chefs who are confident in their skills, but they never brag about it or use it as an excuse to be a jerk to others.
  • Hypocrite: The Li Group calling Paul a traitor for entering the semi-finals of the competition but not as their representative is rather rich, given that they're the ones who betrayed him because they don't think he's marketable enough in spite of his skill.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Downplayed. Although it's never shown what happens to the Li Group after Mi Yu loses to Paul and Tianci in the semi-finals, it's at least guaranteed that the loss will leave a bad hit on their reputation, especially since they replaced Paul with Mi Yu, the latter of whom ends up getting beaten fair and square by the former (teamed up with Tianci) in the competition, adding further insult to injury. It doesn't help that the epilogue showing how Tianci's restaurant is still flooding with customers, implying that Stellar is no longer doing as well business-wise.
    • Another downplayed case; Mi Yu backstabs Paul and takes his place as executive chef, and although what happens to her after the Culinary Competition isn't shown, her defeat (both in the personal and professional sense) is likely to affect her credibility as a cook in the long run.
  • Loophole Abuse: Paul invokes this by reminding the Li Group that even though they casted him aside, he's still the one who participated and won the Culinary Competition and thus he still has the right to compete, even if he won't be representing them this time around.
  • Missing Mom: For both main characters.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: For the semi-finals, Tianci and Paul make a deconstructed dish of mapo tofu that is completely astonishing presentation-wise (such as how the chili sauce is flawlessly marbled into the tofu and the sphered beef fat) yet still captures everything that makes a mapo tofu such a striking and delicious dish, especially with its numbing spices. It's impressive enough to net them the victory.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Tianci may seem rough around the edges, but he deeply cares for the people in his community and wishes to prove to his father that being a good chef doesn't necessarily mean having to be ruthless and unscrupulous.
    • In spite of Paul's fame and prestige as a world-renowned chef, he never takes advantage of it to condescend other people and doesn't judge someone based on their background and origin.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • Zigzagged. Mi Yu betrayed Paul to advance her own ambitions and takes his place as the head chef of the Stellar restaurant, but ends up losing to him in the Culinary Competition, forcing her to live with the fact that no matter what, she will always be inferior to Paul and that she ultimately betrayed him for nothing. Her refusal to look at Paul in the eye out of shame says it all.
    • Played with in Tianci's case. Although he doesn't technically win against his father in the Culinary Competition, he does attain what he really wanted: his father's approval. How? With a humble but delicious bowl of noodles, the very same dish that his father insulted him for never being able to make well.
  • Red Baron: Gao Feng is known as the "God of Cooking", a title that he shows that he earned in the climax.
  • Riches to Rags: Downplayed. Paul may have changed jobs from a head chef of a high-end restaurant to a co-chef in Tianci's restaurant, but he's much happier where he is now, especially after personally experiencing the corruption that's rampant in the upscale culinary world.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: When Tianci finally gets to compete against his father, what is the dish that he prepares? A bowl of noodles. Nothing flashy or innovative is done with it, but it's tasty enough to make Gao Feng want to eat every last bit of it and finally make him acknowledge that his son does indeed have a talent at cooking.
  • Sinister Sweet Tooth: Gao Feng specializes in beautiful and delicious desserts.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: It's pretty much Food Wars! the movie!
  • Supreme Chef: In spite of their different backgrounds, both Tianci and Paul know how to make good food.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Tianci (the Performer) is a skilled home cook and what he lacks in technique and presentation, he more than makes up for with his knowledge of various tastes and of Chinese cuisine. Paul (the Technician) is someone who's good at fusion cuisine and knows all there is to know about molecular gastronomy, but he has an impaired sense of taste. Their respective strengths compensate for the other's shortcomings when they team up in the Culinary Competition.
  • To Be a Master: Despite being a fully grown man with a child of his own, Gao Feng left Tianci to fulfill this trope. He ultimately succeeded in being one of the best chefs in the world.
  • Training Montage: One happens in the latter half of the story when Tianci teaches Paul about Chinese cuisine.
  • Undying Loyalty: The people in Tianci's community always do everything they can to support both Tianci and his business and aren't afraid to confront anyone who tries to threaten the peace in their neighborhood.
  • Unishment: Deconstructed. One of the core pillars of Tianci's resentment towards his father is how he secretly saw him throw out the poorly done noodles he himself cooked and replaced them with good ones that Gao Feng made before serving them up to him under the pretense of being the former as punishment. Tianci has mulled over the contrast between a man leaving his son to pursue his dream while being unable to go so far as to serve him bad food for years.
  • Villainous Valor: Gao Feng is a piece of work who abandoned Tianci at a young age to advance his own culinary career. However, he never resorts to any underhanded tactics (besides splashing water in his son's face when the latter got too absorbed in his thoughts) when he and his son face against each other in the finals, and is quick to acknowledge that his son made good food worthy of a true chef.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Both Tianci and Paul, whose fathers are world-class chefs (or was in Paul's case) and set the bar for their children.
  • Worthy Opponent: Even before both chefs teamed up, both Tianci and Paul have been shown to highly respect the other's abilities.