By: Nick Askam

It’s refreshing to see a food movie actually be about the food first. Although there is some plot, the film mainly revolves around food being made and prepared. The way that the ingredients roll off the CEO’s (Takeshi Kaneshiro) tongue makes it feel like the food was a big deal in this movie. The amount of pride Gu (Chiling Lin) took in her food was also great.

This movie isn’t going to win any major awards except maybe in terms of the visuals because the food looked that amazing. The story isn’t revolutionary and its humor won’t knock you out of your chair, but the way that the story is told makes it fun and engaging. The amount of times that I was so interested that I was 150% paying attention was surprising and relieving. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a relatively good time.

This is Not What I Expected is about a CEO who is trying to decide whether he will acquire this hotel in his plan to expand his empire. In the process of learning about the hotel, he keeps running into Gu who is one of the chefs of the hotel. Through some hilarious events, their paths continue to cross until they finally meet.

The technology in this film is used tastefully. Recently, a lot of movies have been trying to over-emphasize the importance of technology being in the central vein of the plot. This makes them feel anti-personal and standoff-ish. This movie does a fantastic job of using technology to help move the plot but not be the crutch that it stands on. The Apple Watch bit never felt forced and felt real due to the immense wealth of the CEO.

The other parts of this film that I really liked were how the secondary characters were used. They never felt like they were in the way. They just felt like they were interacting with the main characters in such a way that felt realistic. I enjoyed that I didn’t have to watch subplots with secondary characters that would inevitably go nowhere. There was a secondary romance that was started, but the audience had to be smart enough to understand what was happening. I enjoyed that Derek Hui decided not to fully emphasize that. He trusted that the audience would understand.

The Food Network needs to hire Derek Hui immediately. His shots of the food and the ingredients made my stomach rumble several times. I was blown away by how well he directed those shots and the rest of the film. He has been an editor on numerous other projects like Dragon, Man of Tai Chi, and Kung Fu Killer but this is the first time aside from a TV Documentary that he has been behind the camera. I thought for a debut, he did amazing. I can’t wait to see his work in the future.

My only problem was that the plot was a little too predictable and it made me feel like it took away from the rest of the film. I wish there were some different elements in how the story played out, but I concede that was probably not the biggest concern for the film. While the food elements looked tasty and delicious, I have a feeling that it won’t stick with me in the coming days. That saddens me as this is one of those films that will inspire me to cook in the near future. The way that the food was described made me hungry each and every time.

Overall, I think this is a movie that directed food in one of the most satisfying ways on the big screen. There were some elements in the story that I wish were better, but it is something that I will just live with. The food shots made up for some of the story’s faults in parts. I will hopefully be seeing another one of Derek Hui’s movies in the near future. I would recommend this movie to any food fanatic or someone who needs the inspiration to start cooking.

Grade: B