THE GOD OF COOKERY Serves Up Tasty (Stephen) Chow [Two Cents]

Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick

We used to be skinny weaklings but after watching God Of Cookery we’re totally ripped and nobody steals our Two Cents anymore!

Stephen Chow’s best — and best known — films are Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, but 1996’s The God Of Cookery deserves recognition for probably coming the closest to delivering the same kind of hilarious mayhem. Set in the world of competitive celebrity chefs, The God Of Cookery follows the exploits of a fallen (and phony) culinary idol who starts from the bottom again by literally taking it to the streets with the help of some new friends. Often hilarious, occasionally violent, somewhat sentimental, and always chaotic, The God Of Cookery is a weird whirlwind of a film. Let’s see what our reviewers thought of it!

Thanks to Trey Lawson for suggesting this week’s pick!

Did you get a chance to watch along with us this week? Want to recommend a great (or not so great) film for the whole gang to cover? Comment below or post on our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter!

Next Week’s Pick:

The Rocky franchise is near and dear to many of our hearts and it’s tremendously exciting to see it continue in the form of Creed, which ushers a new generation in the form of Apollo Creed’s son. While Rocky has had six feature films, Rocky IV was Apollo’s swan song, making it effectively the preceding chapter of the “Creed” saga. Available streaming on Netflix.

Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)!

Our Guest

Trey Lawson:

If you aren’t used to Hong Kong comedy, God of Cookery can be a bit perplexing. Director/star Stephen Chow plays a pompous celebrity chef who goes through something of a redemption story as he is humbled and fights his way back to the top of the cooking world. The film parodies everything from Iron Chef to the Shaolin Temple cycle of gung fu films — but make no mistake, this isn’t really a martial arts film. The film is mostly carried by Chow’s charismatic performance (and gift for physical comedy) as it moves from one absurd set piece to the next. Unfortunately a handful of the film’s gags are more than a bit objectionable, but those moments pass fairly quickly. It goes without saying that the best part of the film is the climactic “God of Cookery” competition in the film’s third act. While some of the film’s humor relies on contexts which may not be immediately apparent to American viewers, the competition scene is probably the most accessible, with enough slapstick and over-the-top performances to overcome any cultural differences. It probably isn’t the best introduction to either Chow’s filmography or Hong Kong cinema in general, but if you’ve already enjoyed Chow’s better-known Shaolin Soccer or Kung Fu Hustle, then God of Cookery is probably the next film to check out. For a thematically-appropriate double feature, pair it with Sammo Hung & Jackie Chan’s Mr. Nice Guy. (@T_Lawson )

The Team


If there’s one thing Stephen Chow’s God of Cookery succeeded in doing, it’s making me hungry. Although I may pass on the Pissing Beef Balls the fraudulent culinary git invents in this bonkers tale of rival celebrity chefs willing to stoop to any means to attain the eponymous title.

Mixing slapstick cartoonery, Shaw Brothers homage and a rather lame redemptive story makes for an entertaining, if wildly uneven, oddity that cleverly equates a chef’s cooking style with Kung Fu skills. There’s little in the way of traditional martial arts (although, like some of Chow’s other flicks, there’s a jarring violent streak at odds with its more light-hearted nature), but the combative cooking scenes are inventively staged and Chow injects his singular brand of zaniness into every scene — the refreshingly different take on Shaolin Monasteries, including a hilariously pervy dean and his 18 brass men, had me in stitches.

Unfortunately, lacking the focus and storytelling chops of Kung Fu Hustle, Chow’s unconvincing, and surprisingly swift, redemptive arc descends into a mess of supernatural bollocks and mixed messages. It’s still quite fun but can’t hide the fact that, in the end, the God of Cookery is still a bit of a twat. (@jconthagrid)


Going into this week’s selection, I thought I’d only seen one of Stephen Chow’s films before. Then I realized that I’m not even sure that’s true when it dawned on me that I was thinking of Steve Oedekerk’s Kung Pow rather than Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle. So, as far as I can recall, this is my introduction to Chow’s work.

This begs the question as to whether or not I enjoyed the film. Unfortunately, it really didn’t do much for me. While I feel as if there is a good level of wit in the jokes, the humor of this film is mostly lost on me.

Despite not being a huge fan of the film, something about it makes my want to explore Chow’s filmography a bit more. Perhaps in a few years I could return to God of Cookery and appreciate its wackiness a bit more. (@thepaintedman)


For years, Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle occupied the #1 spot of my all-time favorites. It’s since fallen a notch or two, but I’m absolutely a fan of Chow’s films, with Hustle being his best and Shaolin Soccer his funniest. I agree with Trey’s assessment that after those two masterpieces, God Of Cookery is probably the “best of the rest”. Of Chow’s earlier films, it’s probably the closest to matching the exuberant style of that pair, and also features several familiar actors from Chow’s stable of regulars — a treat for anyone who becomes familiar with his body of work.

God Of Cookery has a somewhat haphazard story and baffling characters, but the final kung-fu-cooking showdown is as epic as it is absolutely hilarious. (@VforVashaw)


With Stephen Chow, you’re either in or you’re out. His movies follow absurdist paths beholden to no interior logic besides whatever he feels like from scene to scene, often oscillating between broader-than-broad sight gags, slapstick, naked melodrama, and even some deeply felt spiritualism. Chow’s best films move with a manic energy, never allowing you to pull at the cartoon logic. When it doesn’t work, the results can be exhaustive and grating. When it does work, his films pack more giddy joy than just about anyone else working.

By the time The God of Cookery starts throwing secret Shaolin martial arts cooking training at you, I was fully on board. While Cookery follows a very familiar Stephen Chow-template, the joy is in the details, and in the seemingly endless supply of gags that Chow has at his disposal. Who else could turn a recurring shot of a man being dragged, face leaving an endless trail of blood, into a hysterically funny gag? While Chow wouldn’t really hit his peak until CGI opened up his cinematic language to genuine cartoon heights, The God of Cookery showcases his weird and wonderful voice quite well.

Also there’s a bit where he punts a knife. Gotta love that. (@TheTrueBrendanF)

Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

Get it at Amazon:
 God Of Cookery [DVD]

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