FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY dir. Eddie Nicart, 1979
For many years a James Bond spoof from the Philippines, little known outside of cult film circles, sat near the top of my “Must See” list. The reason was simple – it showcased the adventures of a safari-suited super spy who just happened to be three feet tall. When I finally located a copy it wasn’t the film itself that grabbed my attention, but the decidedly odd cover art.
As hinted in the title, the gimmick of For Your Height Only is it’s star, Filipino icon Weng Weng. The obscure UK video label that released the film (circa 1986) must have thought the addition of Roger Moore’s instantly recognisable mug, shorn of his luxurious coiffure and bald as a new born babe might get a few more copies flying off the rental shelves. Closer inspection reveals the image, snipped from a random Bond poster, is pasted over a fairly unaccomplished rendering of Weng himself. Such a cunning, if slightly cack-handed marketing decision immediately earned my undying respect.
The movie itself is a rare beast – actually living up to it’s legendary reputation. Produced in 1979 by notorious sleaze-hound Dick Randall, it chugs along at a disorientating pace, chock full of double-take moments, disco dancing and surprisingly well choreographed fight scenes. They even find time for a Thunderball style rocket pack sequence, swinging a clearly terrified Weng high above a river. It’s rounded out with a bizarrely scripted, but frequently hilarious dub track, featuring passable imitations of Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Katherine Hepburn.
Somewhat disturbingly, Weng Weng spends the movie being thrown around like rag doll, most of the time sporting a glazed expression like a heavily sedated Buster Keaton. Just to prove he’s in on the joke, we get the occasional sly glance or cheeky grin – especially after using his X-ray specks to ogle some naked secretaries. In fact, despite his diminutive size, nasal twang and passing resemblance to Andre Previn, he’s a wow with the ladies, who can’t get enough of the fella. Attacking the action sequences with aplomb, Weng clearly enjoys sprinting through henchmen’s legs and kicking them square in the balls.
Essentially a series of vignettes, the basic plot follows Weng on a mission to bust a scheme for world domination by the mysterious Mr Giant. (I won’t spoil Mr Giant’s identity for you, but it’s another reason to love this film!) Fact fans may like to know that the all-guns-blazing climax takes place at same location used for another seminal cult classic from the thrifty Randall – Bruceploitation epic The Clones of Bruce Lee.
Come back soon, for a little more on the amazing Weng Weng – officially the smallest leading man in cinema history!!