The New York Asian Film Festival Winter Showcase 2020 is here and, among other pleasantries, it brings a fistful of films that will make you hungry. Very hungry. Under the title of “Love at First Bite”, the festival teases you with magnificent seven films. One of them, Taiwanese “Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast”.
Wan (Kimi Hsia) wants to break through in the world of modeling. Despite the effort, her career is far from getting started. Moreover, on her birthday, a pair of crooks knocks on Wan’s door. They ask nothing less from her than to pay her boyfriend’s debt of one million NTS. Desperate, she packs her luggage and leaves for Taiwan, to join her mother Ai-fong (Lin Mei-hsiu).
What you need to know is, Wen happens to be the daughter of the famous bandoh chef Master Fly Spirit (Ko I-chen). After the Master Fly Spirit’s passing, the family heirloom is now on the shoulders of Wan’s mum. Briefly, it is going from bad to worse. With nothing to lose, Wan grabs the first stable of the grass. She says yes to hosting a wedding banquet for an elderly couple and enters the national cooking competition. Oh, you remember the two crooks? They come along.
“Zone Pro Site” is one of those shamelessly silly, goofy, quirky, but not stupid films. It is is one roller coaster ride in full colour, mostly cute pastels. It plays with names, homonyms, absurdity, and slapstick. It has a surprise at every corner even if you think it cannot surprise you more. Yet, the film takes itself and all the fun with all due unrestricted seriousness. Especially when it comes to tradition, family, and food. After all, its very concept is built as a celebration of Taiwanese traditional and movable out-door banquet bandoh. The spoken language honours the local dialects. Last but not least, in detail, it praises the old and traditional condiments, meals and tomato fried eggs, a dish so simple that every housewife can do it.
Yes, the characters are totally and appropriately cartoonish and their protagonists enjoy every bit of it. Kimi Hsia, who previously hosted a foodie TV show “Delicious Food All Over the World” and at the time of “Zone Pro Site” did another one called “Stylish Man – The Chef” manages to give the beauty-obsessed Wan heart and maturity. Tony Yang as the “food doctor” Hai brings in the male pretty face and is highly watchable despite he occasionally lacks the shrimp paste. Yet, the queen of them all is Lin Mei-hsiu. Not that she means to overshadow everyone, she simply manages to pour so much flair into Ai-fong.
All and all, “Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast” not only references the impromptu character of bandoh, but also it itself is a moveable feast. A two and half hour long adoration of food and what it means. It transcends times, distances, connects families and total strangers alike. It is a joy that can happen anywhere, anytime. As is “Zone Pro Site”. As a person who did that mistake, EAT BEFORE THIS FILM.