The Search for Weng Weng (DVD)David Johnson
He’s tough, he’s tender, he’s three feet tall.
A few years ago, the greatest movie ever made was sent to my house. That movie? For Your Height Only.
Bequeathed to the universe in 1981, For Your Height Only is a playful James Bond knock-off from the Philippines, starring Weng Weng, a three-foot tall man with a tremendous bowl-cut. The movie’s one of my all-time favorite bizarro cult oddities, and much of the credit is due to Weng Weng, who just turns in a hilariously earnest performance, terrible dubbing and all.
Apparently I wasn’t the only on smitten by the little dude’s charisma. Andrew Leavold, an Australian lover of cult cinema, made it his mission to unearth the story of Weng Weng. So he hauled his cameras to the Philippines and kick-started his way to this, the most comprehensive documentary on diminutive Filipino action heroes ever created.
But The Search for Weng Weng turns out to be a lot more than a simple biography of a little-known B-movie mini-celeb. Leavold ends up opening his story up to cover the breadth of the Philippines movie-making scene n the late 1970s and early 1980s–the ups an downs, the unsavory dealings, the political maneuverings, even the underbelly, which one might even classify as seedy. Leavold gets his camera in front of a lot of the old players on the industry and they’re more than happy to dish.
Which was all well and good, but if I’m honest–I don’t really care a whole lot about this particular subject matter. Kudos to Leavold for being exhaustive with his lens but give me the Weng Weng goods bro! Eventually, he does get his narrative re-configured and we get the rest of the story on the little guy, both from his family and his colleagues. And…it’s a bit of a downer to honest. The guy never really got to enjoy his dough or, really, his short-term fame, thanks to some weird relationship with his producers.
In the end, as much as I’m a fan of Weng Weng and, particularly, For Your Height Only, I left this documentary feeling bummed. So, I guess it’s good that his story was told…right?