“Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Battle” – An appetizer for people with no appetite
At an official banquet in Japan, the Japanese prime minister brings out kimchi and bulgoggi for the Korean president who has not had Korean food in a long time. As soon as the Korean president compliments that the food was unlike anything he had tasted in Korea, the Japanese prime minister catches him off guard, saying “This is Japanese kimuchi and yakiniku. I am glad you liked it.” The on-screen president — like his real-life counterpart — is a man of tremendous drive and launches a kimchi competition to globalize the Korean dish. At this point, one can predict that “Le Grand Chef 2: Kimchi Battle” will lead the story through food competitions just as in the previous film “Le Grand Chef”. The genius cook Jang-eun (played by Kim Jung-eun), who made kimuchi and yakiniku at the Japanese Prime Minister’s residence, takes part in the competition out of pride. And another genius cook Sung-chan (played by Jin Goo), who grew up with Jang-eun at the famous Korean restaurant Choonyang-gak, participates in the kimchi competition to prevent Choonyang-gak from closing down and being sold off.
Movie Points (1-10 points)
The film makes our mouths water but not our eyes – 7 points
Kim Jung-eun said at the film’s press conference, “What is more important than kimchi is people.” But honestly, watching the brilliantly colorful types of kimchi that appear in the kimchi competition, the conflict between Jang-eun — who wants to get rid of Choonyang-gak to erase her painful memory — and Sung-chan — who wants to save the restaurant in sake of the memories of past regular customers — feel almost like secondary elements in the film. This serves as both the advantage and disadvantage of “Kimchi Battle”. While the film deserves a thumbs-up for providing plenty of sideshows in a cooking competition with the single subject theme (kimchi), the kimchi-making characters are too quick in making reconciliations with their own past and their mothers. The speedy development of the story is not a flaw in itself but the tension in the drama is lost when an old, buried wound disappears over a minor incident and fast-moving hands from the competition is all that is left for us to see.
Thus, the final kimchi competition in “Kimchi Battle” may provide the answer to which kimchi will represent Korea but it does not seem adequate to be the big final chapter that resolves all the conflicts. If this film stirs up emotions about our own family, it is probably not because the characters shed tears in the film, but because we miss having a home-cooked meal with cabbage kimchi and a bowl of rice. That is why it is disappointing that the connecting link between the competition and the personal histories of the two characters were not strong enough. “Kimchi Battle”, which stimulates our hunger more than it does our lachrymal glands, opens in theaters on January 28.
Reporter : Wee Geun-woo firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor : Lynn Kim email@example.com, Lee Ji-Hye firstname.lastname@example.org