Tough Beauty and The Sloppy Slop – Better Than The Title Would Indicate

Country: Phillipines
Genre: Action/ Martial Arts/ Bullet Ballet/ Girls With Guns
Director: Yuen Bun/ Alan Chui
Year: 1995

Rating: ★★★½☆


Yes, Tough Beauty and The Sloppy Slop is a typical cheapo made-in-the-Philippines action extravaganza, but from the beginning, small touches make it worth watching.

Early on, a famous Hong Kong actor makes a surprise exit a la Samuel Jackson in Deep Blue Sea. Star Yuen Biao channels Austin Powers with some of the worst dental work ever seen on film, and he’s the romantic hero. He has kind of a warped chemistry with his co-star, the gorgeous Cynthia Khan. There are also welcome cameos by the likes of Shum Wai, Yuen Wah, Lam Wai, and Alex Man.

HK cop Li (Yuen Biao) and Mainland cop Captain Yiang (Cynthia Khan) infiltrate an international counterfeiting/ drug dealing gang, pretending to be a husband and wife criminal team. Their entry point is the wing of the organization run by Wai (Waise Lee).

Yes, that’s not a very original idea, but screenwriter Foh Ging-Yiu is kind enough to give us small surprises along the way. The character of Wai is very specific. At one point, he explains to an underling that it’s better to keep his wife in prison because she’s a nag, but not to worry about her turning state’s evidence because he saved her from a life of poverty. Waise Lee is wonderful in the role; he’s amusing and menacing at the same time. Foh Ging-Yiu also has fun with the relationship between Li and Captain Yiang. At one point, Wai’s henchmen are eavesdropping on Li and Yiang and mistake their fighting for sex; trust me, it’s a crack up.

Of course, there are the sort of flaws that you would expect in a flick like this. The production looks very cheap. As usual, the Philippine meatballs in the cast can’t act. The producers swipe music from the John Woo picture Hard Boiled. The gun violence most of the way through is of the point and shoot variety rather than the more sophisticated kind that incorporates kung fu movements. The actual kung fu, at least in the first half of the picture is, true to the title, rather sloppy.

But even that improves. The final action blowout features some fantastic and creative martial arts choreography by Alan Chui and Lee Chi-Git, performed by Yuen Biao, Cynthia Khan and the great Billy Chow. Now, I’ve seen plenty of cheapo action pictures which have misused Chow’s gifts, but this isn’t one of them. His big fight scene kicks ass.

So, what you have with Tough Beauty and The Sloppy Slop is a cheap Philippines action flick which is intermittently entertaining throughout, with a gangbusters ending which must have sent theater goers out with a smile.

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