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  • Writer's pictureGuts Mafia

For the love of kitchen brawls

Here’s the scene: good guy chasing bad guy through the gritty green lit streets of some Gotham adjacent city, glocks blazing, and innocent randos being subject to classic side shoves in the name of justice or vendetta. Our perp hops a few roofs, slides a couple fire escapes, and bounces off an industrial trash can to run through a grimey back alley door. We follow our champion as he effortlessly jumps to the ground landing in superhero stance and snapping the dust off his jacket; a single cook who witnessed the chaos makes eye contact briefly before pulling hard on his cigarette and pointing at the door. We all enter the kitchen.

The Raid 2 (2014)

Whether in real life or on screen, there's something emotionally elevated about scenes that take place in a kitchen. A fight, a good lay, it all feels inextricably heightened in the presence of knives and fire because it’s such a universally understood space. It’s where the food comes out, it’s where the magic behind a Michelin star is made, and it’s where (thanks to The Bear) we know some of the most intimate and epic arguments occur. Onscreen, kitchens are one of the few spaces that almost immediately become more than a setting, instead taking on a character, and makes viewers question why the story choice is to set it there; ultimately it invokes an element of uncertainty as a familiar space becomes uncertain. Now the gunmen have knives; now the make out is forbidden as fresh ass hits dirty cutting board; you never know who's skilled with a mandolin in the moment.  Innately, I think, there is something deeply subconscious that is acutely aware of the presence of so many “living” things, commingling with objects that can easily and quickly change that state of being. 

A Wusthof set proudly displayed on the kitchen island with heavy coppers creating a chandelier just above the trophy cutlery- it's what steamy romance novels fantasies and murderous horror nightmares are made of. The setting elicits a certain improvisation from both the situation and characters as things can fall, shatter, slice and stab almost ten fold.  These kinds of high stakes scenes rank amongst my favorite for their potent ability to shift plot and dynamics. Here are five examples that perfectly exemplify the rollercoaster of emotion a kitchen induces:

Monkey Man ( 2024)

This scene is everything you want in a kitchen fight: shaky, erratic camera tracking, spontaneous usage of surrounding weaponry, and of course propane. It misses no marks and strikes all the delicious tropes of a vengeful underdog's hero story.

Kill Bill (2003)

We meet our wrath ridden heroine in her first get-back fight. The setting is an intimate home kitchen in a white picket neighborhood where an unsuspecting mother is awaiting her daughters arrival home. It's the first real taste of our champion's might, which ultimately carried the Tarantino franchise into the cinematic hall of fame.

The Bear ( Szn 1, Ep 7)

Arguably one of the most viscerally reactive scenes an former line cook could torture themselves with, The Bear has opened up the BTS traumas of modern commercial eateries for the whole world to see. Here is the exposed underbelly of what it is to be a cook- forever attempting the fatal balancing act of delicate pastries, brutal directives, ever surmounting responsibilities and less we forget - time.

Goodfellas (1990)

Cinema at it's peak with storytelling as these mafiosos transform their makeshift prison kitchen into a multi dimensional space that manages to be nostalgic, foreshadowing, and present all at once. The elders muse while preparing a meal with sacred techniques from the clink, fresh slabs of meat and gastronomic treasures smuggled in from the other side of the bars.

The Menu (2022)

Horror is a kitchen's main squeeze genre - it is where knives thrive! For so many reason's The Menu became a quick favorite in the rolodex of gastro cinema. This films ability to both make fun of and make art from the surreality of current culinary culture and its expectations, makes it easily digestible, even to those who think "it's just a burger!"


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