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Film / God of Cookery

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This is what happens when a man best known for martial arts comedies decides to make a cooking show.

Stephen Chow plays "Stephen Chow" (the Chinese characters in his name are different from his actual name), the undisputed "God Of Cookery" (Chinese: 食神). His respect highly valued and his skills beyond compare, he's supported by The Triads and the Tongs and big businesses alike, making him untouchable, until all of a sudden his support dries up and he's cast aside for Bull Tong (Vincent Kok), who reveals Stephen can't actually cook. Thrown and beaten to the streets, he's helped by a disfigured noodle vendor named Turkey (singer/actress Karen Mok), until he's dead smack in the middle of brutal gang politics of street food vendors between Turkey and her rival Goosehead. Can Stephen find a way to regain his honor and title?

God of Cookery provides examples Of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The "fangirl" who brings flowers. Also, Turkey; she becomes less abhorrent after some plastic surgery in the ending.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Kitchen knives that can slice through falling ingredients without knocking them to the side.
  • Arc Words: "Heart" (心). The best dishes, even if it is something as simple as a rice bowl, are made from putting your heart into cooking it.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: The Eighteen Brassmen of Shaolin, before and during Stephen's subsequent ass-kicking.
  • Bad Boss: Stephen at first, later Bull.
  • Bad Moon Rising: Bull gets worried when he sees nine stars in alignment during the final competition.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Deconstructed - Turkey's left hand is lacerated severely from grabbing Goosehead's machete. Still, she's just too angry to let that stop her, leading to an Oh, Crap! moment from Goosehead.
  • Berserk Button: Turkey is quiet about it, but she loves Stephen and if you attempt to harm him, literally or figuratively, you'll need more than machetes to stop her.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Bull Tong and the unnamed business partner take over Stephen's food business after instigating a scandal and will do anything to keep Stephen out of the culinary-slash-corporate world to the point of sending an assassin in an attempt to stop him from reaching the fabled culinary school.
  • Bloody Handprint: Turkey puts a friendly hand on Stephen's shoulder after saving his life, but to his disgust it leaves a bloody handprint on his shirt.
  • Boring, but Practical: A folding chair; hilariously lampshaded by Nancy Sit as Stephen keeps beating Bull with it during the cook-off.
  • Break the Haughty: Sort of; Stephen acts a bit nicer once he loses his empire, but as soon as he's on the track to getting in back, he returns to his old tricks. It's not towards the end he finally becomes a better person.
  • Bullet Time: Preparing ingredients while they are in the air.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Or in this case, calling your frying, chopping, etc. cooking techniques.
  • The Cat Came Back: When Stephen runs off to mainland China to look for the fabled culinary school in order to get away from Turkey.
    Goosehead: Don't worry about Turkey. She has gone ever since you left.
    (Cue Turkey running towards Stephen with an appropriate horrified reaction)
  • Caustic Critic: Judge Nancy Sit, playing as herself, seems this way until she finishes winnowing down the competition to the only two characters that matter, only to breathlessly invert this trope.
    • Stephen himself as well, especially during the contest at the beginning and even after he was kicked to the streets. Doubles as a Deconstruction, as it shows that getting so used to being judgmental of others cooking is definitely not helping your case when you're reduced to a nobody on the streets.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Being on the receiving end of this as a result of his continued beatdowns from the Eighteen Brassmen may have taught Stephen a thing or two about the use of furniture as weapons, as he brings out a folding chair to beat up Bull in the middle of their Cooking Duel. Nancy compliments his use of the chair in the same terms as she does the cooking.
  • Chef of Iron: Starts with Bull and escalates steadily from there.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Stephen's comments about the fishball being "bouncy as a ping pong ball" is then applied to the making of "pissing beef balls", to the point of using said beef ball to play ping pong during the interview of the stall.
    • The barbeque pork rice bowl Turkey made for Stephen during his Despair Event Horizon. Which is repurposed as the backup dish when Bull destroys his Buddha Jumps Over the Wall.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Parodied with the Eighteen Brassmen giving Stephen a major beatdown. A joke that's lost to most people unfamiliar with martial arts films is in the film Eighteen Bronzemen (see Shout-Out below), a student may not leave until they have defeated the titular Eighteen Bronzemen meaning that they defeated the best of the best. Here, the joke is if eighteen Brassmen beat the crap out of you, it's not because they're better than you but because they outnumbered you 18 to 1.
  • Contrived Coincidence: How Stephen found the fabled culinary school, which actually a kitchen in the Shaolin monastery.
  • Cooking Duel: Begins with one, ends with one.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Bull to Stephen.
  • Deus ex Machina: One of the most egregious and literal examples in Chinese cinema, where Guanyin shows up to announce that Stephen has redeemed himself while punishing Bull and his business partner for their insolence.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bull beats and kicks an employee because the latter was concerned that the food offered to children might affect their health.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Subverted; Nancy does an extended dance sequence while walking back and forth along the row of competitors, then promptly eliminates the contestants for watching her instead of cooking. Subverted because it's humorously bizarre rather than alluring.
  • Divine Intervention: Counts as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Dressed in Layers: Bull, twice in the movie.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Subversion - Nancy seems to know an awful lot about Shaolin martial arts, even though she doesn't partake in any fighting at all.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Bull's business partner is reverted to his "true" form of a dog via Divine Intervention.
  • Food Porn: Due to the culinary theme of the movie, much of the dishes were presented in mouth-watering detail.
    • "Buddha Jumps Over the Wall" is a Real Life Fujian dish containing dozens of meats, fish, and shellfish in a stew taking two days to prepare due to the need to let some of the ingredients to sit overnight. It was named by a scholar who thought it was so delicious that Buddha himself would give up vegetarianism to try it.
    • In the opposing dish, the simple Chinese Barbeque Pork rice bowl was presented as a contrast via its mundane delicacy that comforts the palate of everyone, including the judge herself in the initial moment.
  • Foreshadowing: The proposed promo delivered by the MC of the first competition includes a question of whether Stephen is a god from the Heavens or a devil from Hell because of his cooking abilities. The Deus ex Machina reveals Stephen is a Reincarnation of the Kitchen God's assistant, exiled from Heaven for having spilled culinary secrets to mankind.
  • Gonk: Turkey until the end of the movie and the "fangirl"; this is but one of Stephen Chow's numerous Signature Styles.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Goosehead and his food stall staff/gang joins with Turkey after Stephen convinces the two to band together to create the "pissing beef balls"note .
  • Hostage Situation: Bull and his business partner have recruited Nancy's son into the triads, forcing her to call the competition in his favor.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food/Orgasmically Delicious: This causes an Imagine Spot twice.
  • In Medias Res: God of Cookery starts after Stephen loses his business empire and is kicked to the streets.
  • Jerkass: Stephen, who raises pettiness almost to the point of outright evil.
  • Just in Time: Stephen barely makes it to the second contest.
  • Kayfabe: The first contest is entirely rigged to make Stephen look good.
  • Kick the Dog: Too many moments by both Stephen and the villains to count.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down
    • Bull does this once to show he's now the even more ruthless one than Stephen.
    • The irony is Stephen still does this later while pretending to calm down a fight after regaining his wealth.
  • Large Ham: Bull takes the cake by laughing evilly while cooking.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Stephen's hair turns white as a result of the Humiliation Conga and Training from Hell he endures in the Shaolin monastery and his mourning for Turkey's (apparent) death.
  • Loony Fan: Before departing for the culinary school, Turkey is revealed to be very obsessed towards Stephen, to the point the first thing he does after seeing Turkey is to immediately call a taxi and get away from her as far as possible.
  • Lotus Position: With subverted levitation - Headmaster Wet Dream sits down like this in the middle of the last contest and appears to be levitating, until the camera moves and reveals he's being carried out by security.
  • Machete Mayhem: The favorite weapon of many a street thug; also one of the most unpleasant Bare Handed Blade Blocks you'll ever see.
  • The Man Makes the Weapon: Stephen finds out the hard way from Bull that if you can be disarmed with a simple teaspoon, you probably haven't been spending enough time behind a chopping block.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: Cooking has never been so dangerous!
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The last third of the film makes cooking awesome. And somehow finds a way to make the ordinary barbeque pork rice bowl awesome... enter the "Sorrowful Rice"!
  • Mundane Utility: Chi blasts to cook food, among others.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Performed by the Eighteen Brassmen of Shaolin on Stephen, which always ends with his bloody carcass dragged back to the monastery.
  • No Name Given: Despite playing an important role, Ng Man Tat's character of Stephen and Bull's business partner/triad boss is never named.
  • Not Quite Dead: Turkey returns and cleans up nicely thanks to Magic Plastic Surgery.
  • Oven Logic: Subverted by Rule of Cool when Bull cooks his Buddha Jumps Over the Wall that takes normally 49 hours in two minutes, powered by his internal chi.
  • The Power of Love: The winning dish "Sorrowful Rice".
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Bull is said to have never completed his training at the hidden monastery's kitchen. Though "evil" is a bit of a stretch, but given that he joins hands with a Corrupt Corporate Executive to use his culinary skills to oust Stephen as a fraud to take over the food business, as well as how he runs his newfound business empire afterwards...
  • Serious Business: Cooking; it's big business, as well.
  • Shout-Out
  • Suck Out the Poison: Stephen by Wet Dream, though Played for Laughs; may count as Squick.
  • Supreme Chef: Stephen, but subverted when he starts out pretending to be one. Played straight by the end of the movie.
  • Taking the Bullet: Turkey does this to foil the assassin's attempt on Stephen's life, point blank no less. Fortunately, it is revealed at the end that the bullet only hit her prosthetic tooth, which at worst necessitates some plastic surgery.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Done twice by the unnamed business partner - first with cheap beef sold in his restaurants, causing food poisoning, which gets Stephen arrested by the authorities and done a second time by placing a bomb in Stephen's container for his Buddha Jumps Over The Wall.
  • Three-Act Structure: Each roughly 30 minutes or so.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Stephen after training in the hidden monastery.
  • Torso with a View: Bull's final fate after enraging Guanyin.
  • Transformation Sequence: Try to say "Magical Chef Transformation Sequence" with a straight face.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The entire cooking association led by Steven's right-hand man.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Stephen is a serious asshole for 2/3 of the movie.
  • The Wonka: Stephen, the CEO of the former Tang Dynasty food business empire.
  • Zerg Rush: The 18 Brassmen rushes and mercilessly beats up Stephen for trying to leave the monastery.