Monday 28 January 2019

Chicken and Duck Talk (Hong Kong, 1988)

Chicken and Duck Talk

Hong Kong | 1988 | D: Clifton Ko

The first time I saw this movie was on CCTV’s movie channel in mainland China. Without English subtitles. And I was laughing my head off – you didn’t need to understand it; the language of humour was strong with this movie. But it’s even better when you watch a version with English subtitles though!

What we have here is a very traditional Hong Kong restaurant owner. He has a small shop that specialises in its Duck dishes. He has a secret recipe and doesn’t let anyone else prepare the ducks, yet they were to learn the art of the spices.

He has a loyal and hardworking crew – they complain about their conditions and their wages, but they enjoy working there. His family lives above the shop – his wife and teenage son.

One day his mother in law comes to visit. At the same time a new shop across the road is about to open, and they’re going to serve fast fried chicken, American style. They have a flashy grand opening and virtually steal all of his customers, including the monk who only eats vegetables! The brash owner of the chicken store decides he wants to expand, and sets his eyes on the duck store. Hilarity ensues.

And it really does. This is quite a funny movie. HK filmmakers have a real strength in comedy films – it seems to be because they aren’t trying to rush the movie along like an action film, so they have time to explore the characters and make them likeable.

Our main character, Ah Hui, is actually quite likeable. He may be a tight-ass, but he is a smart tight-ass and he eventually wins in the end due to savvy business and a touch of humanity.

The whole cast is quite likeable, and this movie is well acted, even as it steers towards the over-dramatic at times. The scene with the health inspector is very funny and highlights to the audience the relationship that the boss and his workers have.

This is an easy recommendation, and luckily there is a full version of the movie available on YouTube to watch with English subtitles. It’s quite poor quality, but a decent substitute unless you can find the bluray or have access to Chinese video streaming apps.


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