Movie Review: Animated Edibles from China — “Kung Food”

What in Holy Hunan is this? A Chinese animated comedy about dashing dim sum, samurai sushi and nervy noodles facing down the evil, stinky Lord Octopus?

“Kung Food” is a Chinese import based on a Chinese TV series that plays with its food. Fancifully designed and decently animated by Yi Animation, I have to tip my hat to Level 33, releasing this kid-friendly/adult chuckles food-pun farce as America enters its “Turkey leftovers again? Let’s order CHINESE!” season.

It’s about a long-training young pork bun, Bao, kicked out by his teacher to “seek adventure,” and accidentally gifted with a long-ago master’s “Staff of Destiny.”

Bao, a faintly-dim dim sum, is going to need it where he’s headed. A brochure has enticed him to sign on for a military adventure, a grand armada that’s setting out in search of the long-lost “Fabled Five Flavor Stone,” the font of all food wisdom.

You can’t eat anything that doesn’t taste “sweet, sour, bitter, spicey or salty,” right?

But pirates let by Lord Octopus take Princess Choy (noodles) hostage, and Bao’s cooking scow is lost. He finds himself shackled to one of the Octopus’s hired samurai, “Salmon” (Ikura, salmon roe sushi). They must battle angry monkeys “(We have no time for monkey business!”), sudden fires (“Must…escape…heat and sushi do NOT mix!”) and make their way to a martial arts battle royale set during a salt storm.

The insults are of the “egg head” and “People who wear loin clothes (Japanese samurai) shouldn’t skip the underwear!” variety.

Expletives are limited to “Sweet GINGER” and “Let’s go kick some WHEAT grass!”

Oh, to have been in the writer’s room where English speakers bounced puns and zingers back and forth in translating this “wonton slaughter” that might’ve been better titled “Crouching Bun, Hidden Duck Sauce” or “Enter the Dim Sum.”

If your kids are Chinese menu savvy, just figuring out what this character/dish or that one is that this or that character is supposed to be. It’s “Veggie Tales in Sweet and Sour Sauce.”

For adults, it could play as a take-out dinner date drinking game movie, a 90 minute think-up-your-own-pun fest.

Because whatever its original intent, Western viewers will notice dim sum silly, silly noodles.

Rating: unrated, mild profanity, food fights, food puns

Cast: The voices of Koula Kyriaki Glyptou, Grace Samson, Barry Samson, Chris Hover and Jeff Schectman

Credits: Directed by Sun Haipeng, scripted by Sun Haipeng, Lin Jinglei, Ma Hua, Billy Casper, Barry Samson, Gace Samson, Sydney Gonzales, based on the TV series. A Level 33 release.

Running time:1:36

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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