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McDull: Rise of the Rice Cooker
McDull: Rise of the Rice Cooker (2016)

McDull and friend in McDull: Rise of the Rice Cooker.


Year: 2016  
Director: Brian Tse  
Producer: Brian Tse, He Zhi Kai, Samuel Choy
Writer: Brian Tse, Alice Mak
Voices: Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Zhang Zhengzhong, The Pancakes, Timothy Cheng, King Kong
The Skinny: The latest McDull entry moves further from its Hong Kong origins, but features relatable values that should please McDull’s built-in audience. While there’s no returning to the sublime heights of My Life as McDull and Prince de la Bun, this entry at least brings back some of the esoteric charm that made McDull so unique. An enjoyable if unremarkable entry in the series.
by Kozo:

McDull is back, but he isn't the dimwitted piglet we once knew. McDull once stood for dopey underachievers everywhere, but in his last film, McDull: Me & My Mum, McDull was portrayed as more of a standard movie protagonist. The McDull of Me & My Mum was a winner who took his mother's pragmatic teachings and grew up to become Bobby Mak, the world’s greatest detective. The McDull in his latest film, McDull: Rise of the Rice Cooker, is also exceptional in that he designs a large robot to defend the Earth from alien invaders. However, Rise of the Rice Cooker offers minor thematic course correction by presenting a McDull that’s simultaneously a winner and a loser. This McDull may be smart enough to build a robot but he never stops being an eccentric little dude, and his weirdness is portrayed as endearing and inspirational, both necessary emotions for a successful McDull entry. Also, Rise of the Rice Cooker is a parody of Japanese kaiju films. Everybody likes those, right?

When we first meet this latest version of McDull (voiced by Zhang Zhengzhong), he's a child inventor at the island-located Fresh Fish Primary School. McDull's greatest invention is fishballs on a chicken foot, a creation that simultaneously demonstrates his oddball sensibilities and his love of local things. Despite being a goof, McDull is shortlisted for the Global Super Robot Competition, which is organized to create a super robot intended to stop an invading giant alien monster that resembles a cross between Godzilla and King Kong. Earth actually has an existing giant-sized protector, Spamerman, who's a parody of Ultraman crossed with a processed meat sausage. Spamerman is currently licking his wounds after being defeated by the giant monster, so Earth's populace have to step in to protect their planet themselves. McDull and his creation, a small rice cooker robot called Risopot, are given the chance to compete in a robot competition against a slew of stronger and more offensively-minded robots.

Risopot may not be packing heat but he's a space-saving device that can make many comforting rice dishes, among them rice porridge and sushi rice. Of course, Risopot shouldn't be able to take on a buffed-out robot that shoots missiles, but that's not how he's able to outlast his competitors – which naturally he does (Sorry, spoiler!). Due to movie circumstances, Risopot becomes the template for a massive robot called Risobot, which has a rice cooker as its head and a combo washer-dryer for a body. Obviously, the giant alien creature is toast. Or not. Putting aside the ridiculousness of this premise, one important question springs to mind: Why didn't Siemens, Panasonic or Samsung get in on this obvious product placement goldmine? The filmmakers could have at least enlisted Rasonic, a Hong Kong-specific company that makes rice cookers, foot massagers, vacuum cleaners and other appliances that figure into Risobot's ability to make our lives more comfy and convenient. You left money on the table, people.

A glorified kitchen appliance won't beat a Godzilla-sized monster in a duel to the death, but Rise of the Rice Cooker offers a different means for victory. Basically, violence doesn't work, but personal convenience and being able to scratch your own ass can save the world. Seriously, that's the message of McDull: Rise of the Rice Cooker (or a paraphrased summary, anyway) and it shockingly works. Using a dryly idiosyncratic tone and plenty of non sequiturs (like McDull's out-of-nowhere interest in dressing as a schoolgirl, among other random details), the McDull braintrust of writer Alice Mak and writer-director Brian Tse successfully pull off their silly satire. The film glorifies McDull's oddities without excusing or justifying them, and once again wears its humble, simple and pleasing values on its sleeve. McDull isn't out for fame and fortune, and instead has this weird idea that his inventions can make life easier for Mrs. Mak (voiced again by Sandra Ng). And if his mom can be happier thanks to convenient appliances and time-saving inventions, why can't giant monsters from outer space?

Rise of the Rice Cooker's amusing weirdness offsets the fact that it takes place in a non-specific Chinese location and not Hong Kong. But its values should resonate with Hong Kongers, as the focus on a simple, comfortable life is a perfect fit for McDull and Mrs. Mak. The sentiments in Rise of the Rice Cooker feel universal and much more in-tune with earlier McDull films. It's not as soaring or surprising as either My Life as McDull or Prince de la Bun, but maybe we just have to accept that this can't be the representative Hong Kong franchise that it used to be. Besides finding joy in local life, the McDull films were notable for referencing Hong Kong's political and personal issues with acute empathy for the ordinary Hong Kong person. Well…it's not that easy anymore. The political and the personal have grown closer, and now it's hard for McDull to represent one extreme on the political spectrum without pissing off the other. Anyway, does anyone really want to see McDull and company tackle the stuff that's really bothering Hong Kong right now? Ten Years, this is your job. (Kozo, 4/2017)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Panorama (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

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