The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Battle / Kim-chi-jeon-jaeng



2010 Korean movie that once-again pits our hero, Sung Chan, against a rival chef in another cook-off - this time, Kimchi.

It's a new actor portraying the descendant of a royal chef, but strangely he somehow resembles Kim Rae won in that he could definitely pass for a younger brother.

The guy from Le Grand Chef reminded me of Kwon Sang woo.

Anyhow - in this version of the saga (based on Korean manga) "Sik Gaek", our humble chef still sells staples from the back of his truck on street corners, traveling around the countryside learning more and more about his natural talent.

He's returned 'home', however - to an adopted mother who runs a traditional but popular restaurant from her home.

She's ill and there are creditors hounding her to relinquish the land and restaurant when her world-famous chef daughter decides to leave her posh job and return to Gwangju, to do-in her omanee for all the shame she suffered as the child of a husband-less mother.

Her intent is to destroy the restaurant, but it is already closed - and since Sung chan intends to do whatever it takes to keep the place running, Jang Eun decides to challenge her in-a-round-about-kind-of-way adopted brother to a Kimchi cook-off.

If she wins, he has to turn-tail and leave so she can dismantle the restaurant/house piece by piece - but if she loses to him, she has to forget about her plans for revenge.

I was very confused throughout this movie since the writers decided to stray from the original plot - and suddenly our Sung chan had a mother; his father isn't mentioned at all, and I have no idea if it's the same Sung chan from the first movie who is the descendant of a royal chef, or if he's just some kid off the street with mad culinary skills.

To be honest, I've only had kimchi once in my life, and it came from a jar sold at a Chinese outlet store somewhere in Ann Arbor - and when I opened the jar, the smell hit me in a way that was less than pleasant - which may have ruined it for me, but the taste was beyond disappointing and I never finished my meal.

That incident is being removed from memory, and I have every intention of trying again, but at an official, Korean restaurant this time - where I will insist that they serve me traditional, Korean food and not their idea of what I, an American, would like to eat.

I want the real thing, and since there isn't likely to be a chance for me to fly to Korea and eat the real thing, I'll settle for places like Goram, Hana, and Korea House for my dining pleasure.

In this movie, they again used Russians, Germans, and Australians to represent Americans - something I'm growing to resent now - and regardless of where they find these 'white' people to represent 'me' - they are NOT me, and I don't appreciate being lumped into a generic category of stuffy fools with no taste buds or sense of adventure.

Okay, so Kimchi Battle was interesting, and the characters our Sung chan encountered in order to gain more life experience were touching - enough to bring tears to my eyes on occasion - but, the confusion about just, who was Sung chan supposed to be this time took away from any amount of true enjoyment for me.

... hence the three flowers out of five.
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