Forgotten Action Cinema: Of Cooks and Kung Fu

By 1979, kung fu cinema had covered quite a bit of territory. In order to stay relevant, filmmakers had to aim their creative juices in different directions, regardless of how outrageous or asinine the premise may look on paper. Enter director Chung Ting’s “Of Cooks and Kung Fu”, a baffling and extremely peculiar outing which features a kung fu master who practices a rather intriguing form of martial arts. Each of his moves are named after popular Chinese dishes, though how each of these skills received their respective culinary moniker is never fully explained. Then again, why should it be? Jacky Chen — yes, you read that correctly — portrays our hero, your prototypical hot-shot kung fu student who thinks he’s more dangerous than he actually is. His master, a man who many refer to as the King of Chefs, is a rather interesting follow: in addition to sleeping in the same small bed with his student (also known as his grandson), he spends his days savagely beating his bumbling pupil with a stick. Unintentional innuendos abound. Before too long, our hero discovers that his reclusive grandfather is being hunted by a remarkably stylish cross-dressing assassin sporting an extremely large hat. You don’t have to be a kung fu scholar to realize where this heading. The script is practically non-existent, its numerous gaps filled with lengthy martial arts demonstrations and slapstick comedy that often comes out of nowhere. Still, if you dig outlandish Saturday afternoon “kung fu theater” flicks that don’t make a lick of sense, “Of Cooks and Kung Fu” serves up quite the tasty dish. For those of you with Netflix streaming, it’s currently available to view at this very moment. You don’t know how lucky you are. Note: The clip embedded below does contain a spoiler, so approach with extreme caution.