The Big Deal

aka Tou Shen Gu Zu

Lu Chin-Ku, 1992

If you know your Hong Kong action cinema, and especially if you’re of a similar age to geeks like me, you’ll probably remember the craze for “Girls With Guns” action in the ’80s to mid-’90s, featuring strong female leads kicking and blasting their way through modern settings in everything from breezy affirmative actioners to full-on Cat III sleazefests. Today’s review features some of the standout stars of that genre in a breathtakingly silly send-up of their typical day jobs. It’s daft, it’s relentless and it’s a bit of a bugger to get a hold of, it’s Lu Chin-Ku’s The Big Deal.

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Stunt Dummy no jutsu!

The plot, such as it is, gives us Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima as a pair of thieves on the run from supercops Lethal Weapon (The Killer‘s Tommy Wong Kwong-Leung) and Super Cannon (fellow action starlet Sibelle Hu, who starred alongside most of the girls here in the incredible Angel Terminators 2). This game of cat-and-mouse continues until they stumble across the real villains of the piece (including the fantastic Yuen Wah of Kung Fu Hustle fame and Buffy’s future stunt double Sophia Crawford) and decide to team up to take them down.

That’s all largely irrelevant though, as the setup’s little more than the flimsiest excuse to dash through a breakneck series of terrible gags, genuinely impressive kung-fu slapstick and levels of mugging so egregious it seems at times like they’re trying to bend their own faces off. It’s wilfully daft in a way that’s easily infectious if you’re not above that sort of thing, and all the better for it.

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Lethal Weapon and Super Cannon, hard at it.

Despite, or perhaps because of the sheer blunt force silliness of it all, it somehow works a lot better than it should. There are some fun visual gags, but the majority of the jokes run from flat to incredibly obvious, carrying itself along with a quickfire pace supported by the actresses’ natural charm and obvious delight in subverting their more popular personae. No matter how insane the situation, everyone throws themselves into it 110 percent, whether they’re being mistaken for sinister pimp doppelgangers or chewing out the director for making them run into lampposts. By the time you’re done cringing at a particularly bad clanger, they’re already well into something else entirely, racing towards the end like they can’t believe they’re getting paid for this, dashing to get it finished before they get rumbled.

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A slapstick kung-fu beatdown ends with them wearing each other’s outfits.

Western fans get a bonus with a subtitle track that runs from the bizarre to the nonsensical, featuring such delights as “I’ll chop you to dead” and the constant refrain of “are you nut?” that amps up the silliness even further. It’s the product of the kind of domestic translation job hardcore fans will probably be all too familiar with, as to my knowledge this film has never had (and is unlikely to ever have) a western release. These movies have had a rougher shake than most after their brief popularity in the ’90s, with many of them almost impossible to find even on import, so it’s no big surprise that this one seems to be entirely out of print. You’ll have to do a little digging to get a hold of this (or get friendly with opportunistic eBay bootleggers), but I’d say it’s worth the effort.

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“Fair treatment”, Big Deal-style.

Fans of Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima can add another star to this score, but any HK action fan would be hard pressed not to find this an entertaining bit of occasionally inspired nonsense. You’ll get some bonus laughs if you’re au fait with your gun-toting girls (and we’ll be helping out there with a few retrospectives down the line), but even if it drives you mental it’s all over before you know what the hell happened, and you’ll get a few good fights into the bargain. A mad, mad mess and a whole lot of fun.

 

3 Stars - Watchable

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