Real Men Love Phoo Action

By Anthony Burch on March 05, 2008 - 9:00 am | Permalink

Real Men Love obscure stuff. Stuff that they can share with others in an effort to show how cool and intelligent they are. Stuff so weird and quirky and foreign that it is guaranteed to get you laid if you bring it up in the right crowd. Phoo Action, a BBC show based on a weirdass comic strip, is exactly one of those obscure things Real Men Love.

The premise

 

Thus far, only the hourlong pilot of Phoo Action is available for downl--er, viewing legally from BBC America. This is kind of a bummer, as the grand total of Phoo Action-ry amounts to less than sixty minutes, but take solace in the fact that (A) more episodes are coming next year and (B) the current lack of episodes means you can watch the entire series, and understand everything about it, in a single sitting. The original comic strip the show is based upon was written by the dude who did the original Tank Girl comics (and if you haven't read the earlier ones, they're probably cooler than you'd expect).

Phoo Action takes place in "2012, and a step to the left" -- whatever that means. It follows the exploits of a track-suit-and-eyemask-wearing, ass-kicking Hong Kong cop named Terry Phoo and his precocious (but hot) teenage female detective sidekick, Whitey Action. When the full series comes out, they'll assumedly solve crimes or something, but in the pilot we watch them saving the whole of England from being taken over by a group of angry, evil mutants. 

Since the show takes place in a weird alternate future where everything is fucking awesome, the show basically has creative license to do whatever the hell it wants, whenever it wants. Want to inject Britain's prince with a mutagen which turns his skin blue and transforms him into a bloodthirsty monster? Go ahead. Feel like defeating an enemy by having one character knock his head off, right before passing it to another character who then proceeds to play basketball with it? Yes. Please. Do that.

 

The visuals

 

The surreally badass ideas behind Phoo Action are matched by equally badass visuals. The entire show consists of a mix of practical effects and intentionally-obvious CGI, with an strong emphasis on the former. As you can see above, the bad guys are basically just regular dudes covered in costumes and prosthetics, but they look positively awesome. Once Jimmy Freebie (the dude with the basketball for a head) starts talking, you'll be immediately won over by the show's special effects: Jimmy's mouth moves in a very obviously animatronic sort of way, but the fact that every aspect of his costume is done practically and without any sort of dopey CGI makes it a pleasure just to watch the character walk around and interact with people. Technologically, he looks like something out of H.R. Pufnstuf -- except no episode of H.R. Pufnstuf ever opened with one of the characters killing the Queen of England. Phoo Action does.

Beyond the puppet-y villains, the sets look gorgeous (obviously made on the cheap, but filled with enough funky lighting and off-the-wall decoration to look really distinctive), the protagonists look like they literally walked off the pages of the comic strip, and even the tertiary characters have a lot of...well, a lot of character. Example: Jimmy Freebie's henchmen are all Mexican luchadores with bright blue skin. Like, Smurf blue.

Discuss.

 

Carl Motherfucking Weathers

 

It's not too often you see Apollo Creed hanging out on the BBC, but hell if Carl Weathers doesn't bring a heapin' helping of badass to an already interesting show. Weathers, delivering his lines in his natural American accent, plays Ben Benson. Two things about Ben Benson are immediately obvious, and make no sense whatsoever: firstly, that he's the chief of the London police despite being born in New York City, and secondly, that Whitey Action (who is, as her name would suggest, 100% caucasian) is his biological daughter.

Neither of these two things are ever explained, and that is awesome.

Carl Weathers spends the majority of the show paying homage to/parodying the Angry Black Police Commissioner, while walking around shirtless with a gun and generally acting like a hardcore badass. Remember earlier, when I said that one of the heroes plays basketball with Jimmy Freebie's head? Carl Weathers is the one who does the dribbling, right before he slam dunks the severed head into a preacher's pulpit. You should be downloading this show right now.

 

The Buddha's underwear

 

In case you needed more evidence that Phoo Action is just weird enough to be instantly lovable, consider Whitey Action's preferred choice of undergarment. Upon meeting Terry Phoo, Whitey steals a priceless treasure Terry keeps in a mystical box. The treasure? The Buddha's underpants. Its power? To grant its wearer anything they want. 

This essentially means that throughout the course of the show, Action occasionally yanks something totally random but completely useful out of her panties. 

Out.

Of.

Her panties.

At one point, she pulls a tranquilizer rifle out of her loins; at another, she produces a huge chocolate egg and begins munching on it. This is the sort of narrative logic Phoo Action engages in on a minute-by-minute basis.

 

Kookiness overload

 

Phoo Action isn't perfect, by any means. It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as it oughtta be, the dialogue is hard to understand, and the action scenes are poorly shot.

But even so, you've really gotta respect what the show attempts. It's basically a living, breathing comic book filled with surreal ideas and even weirder images; it's a cult classic waiting to happen. Whatever its faults, every frame of Phoo Action is chock full of kookiness and imagination. It's a chop-socky sci-fi saturday morning cartoon comic book on LSD and adrenalin...and real men love it.


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