Tough Beauty and The Sloppy Slop
Director: Yuen Bun
Starring: Yuen Biao, Cynthia Khan, Billy Chow, Monsour Del Rosario, Waise Lee
As a highly brutal and vicious gang gets involved in drug trafficking and counterfeit money, law enforcement agencies from Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines launch an operation to infiltrate the gang and put a stop to their dealings. Li (Yuen Biao) is the seemingly carefree HK detective who has spent years undercover; Yiang (Cynthia Khan) is the straight laced and by the books Chinese officer; and Sandos (Monsour del Rosario) is their local liaison. As they work to earn the trust of their entry-level boss (Waise Lee), they must unite when the true leader of the operation takes an interest in them.
Utilizing a very typically 90s HK script, we see the setting moved to the Philippines for a tropical locale. Direction, by Yuen Bun, is stylish though never really sets itself apart from other films from this era. He does thankfully keep the frame back when in action scenes and the choreography by Alan Chui, also co-director, is fast and intricate. The comedy bits generally hit the right notes though a subplot involving Yuen and Khan romantically never fully develops. This isn’t uncommon but it does feel like a waste of time when there is no payoff; seeing Yuen Biao as a romantic lead always feels funny to see, but I’m always rooting for the guy in any case.
With stars like this, you would expect good action and the film certainly delivers in that regard. Del Rosario, a champion TKD practitioner, has some good scenes that really showcase his kicking ability. Khan and Yuen are typically good with Khan effortlessly demonstrating grace and ability and Yuen his acrobatics and body control. An absolute standout sequence involves a 3 vs. 1 fight against Billy Chow that features some great choreography and Chow really putting the hurt on our heroes. Waise Lee is one mean cuss who has a hard time earning sympathy from the audience; he’s a murderer, drug dealer, and a wife beater of the highest regard. A weasel of a character, you do get satisfaction at his end.
Shot on a tight budget and at the shift between classic 80s action and the newer 90s fantasy action pics, Tough Beauty and Sloppy Slop does some very entertaining things especially in terms of action. While not a must-see film by any stretch, action fans of the “by the seat of your pants” style of HK film-making will have a lot to like in one of the last examples of of that bygone era. Terrific fights and good pace highlight this film which has little personal identity but entertainment value nonetheless.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Supercop, In the Line of Duty, and/or Lethal Panther