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‘The Search For Weng Weng’ (review)

Produced by Andrew Leavold, Daniel Palisa,
Drew Close, Mike White, Ian del Carmen
Written by Andrew Leavold, Daniel Palisa
Directed by Andrew Leavold
Featuring Weng Weng, Celing de la Cruz,
Editha de la Cruz, Imee Marcos, Imelda Marcos,
Eddie Nicart, Dante Pangilinan, Edgardo Vinarao

 

In 1981, a very bizarre James Bond spoof was released.  It was a Filipino film called For Y’ur Height Only and it starred a 2 foot 9 inch actor named Weng Weng as the action hero!

The film and its star captivated filmmaker Andrew Leavold for years, and he attempted to find more information about them to little avail.

He thus decided to go to the Philippines and search for info; this film is the result.

He catches some very lucky breaks and discovers almost as much as he’d hoped. He interviews many players in the Filipino B-movie world of the 70s and 80s, including the director and editor of Y’ur Height Only.

Leavold discovers that there were about six films that featured Weng Weng as the lead, and several more wherein he had a supporting role.

He also learns about Weng Weng’s relationship with the husband and wife producing team that gave Weng Weng his break, a relationship that wasn’t completely positive.

The film is a tad depressing; the more we learn of Weng Weng’s life, the more it becomes apparent he was a rather sad and lonely man, despite a love of making others happy.

Among those that Weng Weng befriended was the family of Ferdinand Marcos, the President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. Leavold is able to secure an interview with Imelda Marcos, widow of Ferdinand.  The scenes with Mrs. Marcos are certainly memorable.  She and her daughter, Imee, recall Weng Weng with fondness.

Still, as we learn from Weng Weng’s brother and others, the diminutive star wasn’t happy. In fact, it’s likely he never had a single girlfriend, despite many kisses from his female costars.

Lest you think the film is a downbeat slog, The Search For Weng Weng features so many amusing – at times hilarious – clips from the star’s crazy (if inherently exploitative) action movies as well as an outpouring of love from friends, family and fans, that the end result is more uplifting than not.

The film also provides an interesting peek into the Filipino film industry of the time, which was one of a kind.

Perhaps a wee bit of trimming would have helped, but overall Leavold has made an involving and eye-opening doc.

 

The Search For Weng Weng is now available on DVD

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