VenueWalter Reade Theater
North American Premiere!
Note: Appearances by director Namewee and producer Fred Chong have been cancelled.
A movie about food, directed by and starring a rapper who has been investigated for sedition, that the Malaysian government tried to stop from being made, that delivers the anything-goes fast and furious spirit of Stephen Chow’s early movies, that became a massive word of mouth hit, that prompted protests, and that features multiple musical numbers…how could we not show it? Rapper Namewee’s hip hop version of the Malaysian national anthem caused a national scandal, but in Nasi Lemak 2.0 he’s all about bringing Malaysians together. Racial tensions are high in his homeland these days, and this is the first movie to appeal to all three of that country’s main ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, and Indian. It also appeals to this country’s three main filmgoing groups: people who want to see delicious food, people who want to see rad musical numbers, and people who want to see some of the most gloriously stupid jokes ever put onscreen.
The rapper (and director) Namewee plays Huang, a Chinese chef whose refusal to adapt to local tastes is causing his business to tank. Xiao K (pop star Karen Kong, sporting hedgehog-sized eyebrows) discovers his food by accident and realizes that he can help save her family’s Chinese food franchise from a greedy relative who’s staging a corporate coup. They plan to stage a cooking contest with the chain of restaurants as the prize—but Huang isn’t ready to compete yet. A popular street vendor (played by Malaysian screen diva Adibah Noor) becomes his Yoda and sends him on a quest through all the different food traditions across the country, where he learns what it is that makes the national dish, Nasi Lemak, so damn good.
From cooking battles in Chinese kitchens to Bollywood dance numbers, kung fu throwdowns, surrealist jokes, ridiculous stereotypes, a security guard who insists that he can smell racism, a chef who whips out his violin and jams whenever he does something awesome, and plot exposition delivered in fast forward, Nasi Lemak 2.0 is a whirlwind of ridiculosity that became a major hit, earning back its budget numerous times over. As Namewee says, “When we eat together, there is no racism.”