You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Food Luck movie review: Japanese food porn for carnivores is a love letter to grilled beef

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 4/5/2021 James Marsh
Tao Tsuchiya in a still from Food Luck (category I, Japanese), directed by Jimon Terakado. Naoto co-stars. Tao Tsuchiya in a still from Food Luck (category I, Japanese), directed by Jimon Terakado. Naoto co-stars.

3/5 starsThe directorial debut of Japanese comedian and foodie Jimon Terakado should come with a warning for vegetarians. This self-proclaimed slice of "eat-ertainment" is a love letter to yakiniku, or grilled meat, and features some of the most gratuitously carnivorous activity this side of Jurassic Park.

Draped over a thinly carved, yet heartfelt tale of a young man reconciling with his ailing mother, Food Luck is little more than food porn for meat lovers, as a pair of critics survey Tokyo's finest yakiniku restaurants in an effort to compile a definitive restaurant guide.

Freelance critic Yoshito Sato (Naoto) is hired to collaborate with editor Shizuka (Tao Tsuchiya) on the ultimate list of Tokyo's finest restaurants, and panders neither to the chefs or the booming foodie market. Guided by his instinctive "food luck", Yoshito leads Shizuka away from the city's most celebrated haunts and into a number of undiscovered restaurants.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Replay Video

As their grilled beef odyssey begins, Yoshito receives word that his estranged mother, Yasue (Ryo), is in hospital with terminal cancer. Yasue once ran a successful yakiniku restaurant, and raised Yoshito single-handed on her grilled kuroge wagyu beef and nukazuke pickles.

After a withering review from an arrogant critic (Satoru Matsuo), followed by a case of food poisoning, her restaurant closed and Yasue's health deteriorated. Still unable to face his mother, Yoshito discovers elements of her cooking at many of the best Tokyo restaurants and learns the extent of her culinary influence.

a person standing in a kitchen preparing food: Ryo in a still from Food Luck. © Provided by South China Morning Post Ryo in a still from Food Luck.

It should come as little surprise that at the heart of this intimate story is a message of reverence for the simple, homespun truths of older generations, whether they relate to food preparation or more important aspects of life. Yasue's success in the kitchen emanated as much from her bigheartedness as from her technical prowess - she poured her love into her recipes and willed the meat to "be delicious".

The film opens a fascinating dialogue about the power and impact of criticism; how one flippant dismissal from a self-serving writer can inflict sufficient damage to destroy a lifetime's work. Perhaps director Terakado is merely hoping to curry favour with those assessing his first directorial offering, but he needn't worry.

The only pain Food Luck will cause viewers is pangs of hunger, as we witness his protagonists gorge on yet another plate of succulent beef. His cast's cardiovascular health, however, may be cause for legitimate concern.

a group of people sitting at a table: Naoto (left) and Tao Tsuchiya in a still from Food Luck. © Provided by South China Morning Post Naoto (left) and Tao Tsuchiya in a still from Food Luck.

Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook

More Articles from SCMP

Tokyo Olympics: nine Japanese governors want option to scrap Games amid coronavirus surge

CrossFit: female athletes face constant abuse and sexual harassment on Instagram with little help from app

Leak of Australian commander’s China comments fuels further talk of war

Use of digital payment technologies such as QR codes, cryptocurrencies in Asia-Pacific boosted by pandemic, Mastercard survey finds

Chinese boy band T.U.B.S of The Untamed fame want to bring their country’s culture to the world

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

More from South China Morning Post

South China Morning Post
South China Morning Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon