Final Recipe

This was the last (of four) screenings that I did today at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival, but I thought I'd eat dessert first and review this one right away. The other three will come out in an hour or so. I think I've become a big fan of Gina Kim, who directed this.

This heart-warming, cliché-ridden family dramedy had us chuckling and sniffling right on cue. We watch as a grandfather who has struggled with his failing restaurant in Singapore, learns that he has run out of time; he will be evicted within the month. His grandson, who would rather cook than study, wants to enter "Final Recipe," a blockbuster cooking competition televised from Shanghai. Grandma believes in him, so she pilfers his college money from its hiding place and off he goes!

We cheer:
  • Tseng Chang is Hao, a splendid cook, but getting too old to carry on. He is alienated from his son and has raised his grandson Mark in his restaurant, but wants to spare him from cooking for a living. Hao is a cantankerous old coot; watch him rip into the kitchen help at that hospital!
  • Henry Lau is his grandson Mark, utterly devoted to the art of cooking, of spices, of techniques and of creativity. His hero is David Chan, the reigning "Final Recipe" champ.
  • Chin Han is David Chan, a winner for the past 15 years. He is always interested in the new talent that comes up through the competition.
  • Michelle Yeoh is Julia, queen of the cooking shows and hostess of the televised "Final Recipe" each year.
  • Lori Tan Chinn is Mrs. Wang, Mark's grandmother, caught up in a family of contentious men.
This wonderful film has no captions (it's in English!), no profanity, no sweaty bodies (other than from the stoves), no fisticuffs, no vehicular mayhem (traffic in Shanghai looks as gridlocked as Seattle's!) and no blowie uppie stuff (other than that pressure cooker!). The only love interest is the participants' love of cooking.

You will revel in that ultimate showdown AND you will remember that I always say, "Clichés become clichés because they WORK!" And if you are anything like our audience this afternoon, you'll head for your favorite Asian restaurant as soon as it's over!
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Here's a preview:
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