‘Fighting Chefs’: An invitation to indigestion-A A +A
Sunday, March 10, 2013
TAKE equal parts of comedy and action. Garnish with a dash of romance. Stir fry.
Voila! You have “Fighting Chefs,” a cinematic concoction prepared by returning action star and Optical Media Board boss Ronnie Ricketts.
It’s been quite a spell since Ronnie made a movie and he wants to make a big imprint with his newest project by writing, directing and starring in it.
I can understand the impulse to be hands-on in the key aspects of a movie, but Ronnie should not have let himself get carried away.
The story line was promising. A master chef, played by Ronnie, and his bunch of cuisine experts run a row of Oriental (Chinese? Japanese? Korean? Your guess is as good as mine) restaurants. The establishments are doing quite well until their landlord, Don Manolo (Mark Gil), delivers the bad news: they have to move out in three months because Don Manolo has other plans for the property.
How does Master Chefcope with this humongous predicament? He does not. He is too preoccupied with defusing the growing discord among his group as they edge closer to the abyss of unemployment. The most mutinous is Chef Gary, who never misses a chance to pick a fight with Master Chef, who is only too glad to oblige. But every time the two are about to square off, Chef Jen (Arci Munoz) steps in and berates them for behaving like kids. Master Chef is too in love with Chef Jen to defy her.
Master Chef is also busy kicking the butt of the goons of Don Manolo’s brother Gerry (Roi Vinzon) who have been harassing the restaurateurs.
Here the story starts losing its flavor. There are the obligatory fight sequences to show off Ronnie’s martial arts prowess and scenes that are supposed to be funny but are not. An unabashed endorsement of a brand of socks that Ronnie pushes and a scene where OMB agents apprehend a restaurant staff for selling pirated DVDs are strange ingredients that are thrown into an already incongruous mix.
In the final fight scene, Master Chef and his band are outnumbered by a horde of villains led by Don Manolo’s son, who is in league with his uncle Gerry. But because the kitchen gods are on their side, Master Chef’s side prevails.
The victors don’t have the time to celebrate. Their three months are up and Don Manolo arrives with the papers confirming their eviction. But wait, there’s a twist. The old man tears up the documents, and declares that the chefs and their crews can keep their restaurants.
The reason for Don Manolo’s turnaround? An herbal soup, produced by Master Chef, that has magically rejuvenated the old man.
The movie erupts in celebration. There is dancing, laughter, even a late cameo appearance by Ara Mina.
It was not joy I felt as the closing credits rolled. It was relief. The movie was about two hours long, but it seemed longer, much longer. It’s like sitting through an epic about the love life of a mollusk.
Maybe Ronnie had too much on his plate when he assumed the roles of actor, director and writer. The direction is too loose. At times the performers look like wind-up toys, skittering about, mouthing their lines. The screenplay is shallow and woefully predictable, relying on poor imitations of Dolphy-and-Panchito ripostes.
Ronnie is first and foremost an action star. That’s where his strength lies, and that’s where he should’ve focused his efforts.
I expected Ronnie’s main co-star, Chef Boy Logro, to show off the cuisine savvy that made him famous on TV, but he was relegated to speed-chopping vegetables and wielding an oversized pepper mill as a kung fu weapon.
Joining the kitchen brigade are Hero Angeles, Vandolph, Jeffrey Santos, Joross Gamboa, Onyok Velasco and Ronnie’s daughter, Marella Ricketts.
Mark Gil turns in a noteworthy performance as Don Manolo, and Roi Vinzon is given enough screen time to flash his old malevolent image.
Still and all, “Fighting Chefs” is an overcooked stew that needs a lot of seasoning if one is to avoid indigestion.