Movie review: Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhou Dongyu's chemistry lifts romcom This Is Not What I Expected

Takeshi Kaneshiro is the difficult-to- please foodie tycoon and Zhou Dongyu plays the talented sous chef in This Is Not What I Expected.
Takeshi Kaneshiro is the difficult-to- please foodie tycoon and Zhou Dongyu plays the talented sous chef in This Is Not What I Expected.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

REVIEW / ROMANTIC COMEDY

THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED

107 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 stars

The story: Hotel tycoon and foodie Lu Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is famously difficult to please - until he starts tasting dishes cooked by a mysterious and talented sous chef named Shengnan (Zhou Dongyu).

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The handsome billionaire falls in love with the dorky plain girl - it is classic wish-fulfilment fantasy that has been done to death in many romantic comedies.

Making it work in this utterly likeable film are the genuine sparks between Kaneshiro and Zhou. When the two leads were first cast in the film, fans of the source material - Chinese writer Lan Baise's popular Web novel A Long Time Coming (2014) - were displeased, saying that the age gap between them was too wide (Kaneshiro is 43, while Zhou looks even younger than her 25 years).

But as awkward as the pairing appears to be at first, they are surprisingly convincing as the perfect romantic match.

There is enough character development here on both sides for audiences to really buy into their blossoming relationship.

A bachelor as eligible as Lu Jin could get any girl he wants, yet it is the opinionated and brilliant Shengnan who truly leaves a lasting impression on him.

The sequence where he challenges her to make a different egg dish for every meal showcases just how talented she is - and that they are in fact equals.

Their bond is further strengthened by a shared intense passion for food, which is portrayed here through plenty of mouthwatering close-up shots.

Between the food porn and all the scenes of the hunky Kaneshiro looking dapper in perfectly tailored suits, there is more than enough going on onscreen for audiences to drool over.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2017, with the headline 'Expect to drool over dishy Kaneshiro'. Print Edition | Subscribe