Tuesday, 26 February 2013

For Your Height Only


Title: For Your Height Only
Director: Eddie Nicart
Released: 1981
Staring: Weng Weng, Yehlen Cathral, Carmi Martin, Anna Marie Gutierrez, Beth Sandoval, Max Alverado, Mike Cohen, Tony Ferrer, Jim Gaines, Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia, Romy Nario, Ruben Ramos

Plot: When Mr. Giant kidnaps the brilliant scientist Dr. Van Kohler (Cohen), in a bid to get his hands on the N-Bomb, superspy Agent 00 (Weng) is despatched to stop him.

Review: Possibly one of the better known Filipino genre movies no doubt largely in part to it’s 2’9 leading man and cult figure Weng Weng, with this film being possibly his most well-known. So with Emily (Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense) looking at “The Man With The Golden Gun” as part of her 3rd Annual shortening. A full month of films devoted to the vertically challenged, be they dolls, trolls, spiders, monkey butlers, bratz, cats and more! What better time to revisit this shall we say unique film.

Setup exactly the same as the Bond movies it spoofs even shamelessly using the Bond Theme, with the title being a deliberate (and not to say obvious) play on “For Your Eyes Only” which was released the same year as this film, so hence we Dr. Van Kohler is kidnapped by the forces of evil, which in this case look like pretty much every other generic crime movie gang even to the point where they don’t even bother with an actual name for their organisation, though they do have a magic mirror which flashes on and off and serves as their sole source of communication with the illusive Mr. Giant. Still despite kidnapping Dr. Kohler it is still pretty confusing what their actual goal is  seeing how at one point it seems to be about flooding schools with drugs hidden inside loafs of bread, which is kind of a questionable plan seeing how kids don’t usually have access to large amounts of cash to buy drugs, which no doubt explains why they then change I to threatening the world with the N-Bomb, a device which is not only explained as to what it actually does, but never appears on screen and seemingly exists in name only.

While the villians attempts at actually villainy might be shall we say slightly unfocused, at least when it comes to the character of Agent 00 it is alittle more on target, as he is introduced in classic Bond style, lounging around the pool with a couple of bikini clad ladies, as despite his short stature he certainly never seems to have any problem with the ladies especially as he gives even Bond’s seduction skills a run for their money over the course of the film. Equally like Bond, Agent 00 has his own set of gadgets which are introduced via possibly the most vague gadget briefing ever, as he is passed the gadgets often with only a brief outline of what they do or in some cases such as his x-ray glasses no information atall other than “Pretty Cool, Huh?” as Agent 00 just gives a knowing smile. It is actually kind of handy that he knows what half of these things do as the audience is certainly never filled in, often only finding out when he uses them for the first time. The gadgets he is given, though seem like such a mixed bag, while frequently there to give another knowing nod to Bond, as Agent 00 not only gets his own “Thunderball” style jet pack but also a remote control hat seemingly modelled after Oddjob’s bowler hat from “Goldfinger”, only with non of the same deadly potential as this hat just floats around in front of the bad guys, who due to their pathetically cowardly nature are intimidated enough by this cheap effect of a hat on a string to just run away, leaving me now with the belief that flying hats are clearly a lot scarier to Filipino gangsters than the rest of the world!

Such randomness seems to come as standard with the majority of Agent 00’s gadgets, meaning that we gets scenes such as when he uses his x-ray glasses, which not only allow him to see the bad guys hiding in his hotel room, but also them naked seeing how x-ray works only on fabric and not actual human skin. Agent 00 also has his own mini PPK style pistol aswell as a quick assembly mini machine gun, yet when neither is available to hand, he never seems to have trouble finding a miniature weapon nearby, as seen during the climatic raid on Mr. Giant’s island hide away were he takes on a number of samurai warrior armed with a mini Katanta which seemingly appears out of nowhere. Needless to say either without his weapons he is just as capable with his martial arts skills, which are surprisingly nimble with the scenes were he gets to show off these skills, actually being one of the better handled and more coherent of the film, which randomly skips between random scenes on almost the same whim that “Sister Street Fighter” memorably did. Considering that Weng Weng was an avid martial arts enthusiast it is unsurprising hat these scenes are handled a lot better than most of the film, as he showcases not only surprising speed, but also a Jackie Chan style fluidity even as he utilises his surroundings frequently to his advantage, much like his height which seems to be a real weakness for the gangsters he faces, who frequently seem to be overwhelmed in these confrontations.

The real humour of the film though is with the questionable dub track, which it is hard to tell if it is supposed to be so intentionally funny or something which was added later in distribution. Either way it contains such gems as

"You're such a tiny little guy, though. Very petite, like a potato".

"why, he's making a monkey out of the forces of evil"

Or my personal favourite which is said in reference to a crime scene photographer

"I wonder if she does Bar Mitzvahs".

As I said it is hard to tell how much is planned, especially when the film features so many moments of physical comedy, such as a running joke about Agent 00 banging his head while sliding across the floor.

For all the randomness in the film, it is really a credit to Weng Weng that it is actually as watchable as it is, as he owns the character of Agent 00, as he confidently struts around n polyester suits and turtlenecks, often wearing sunglasses which almost cover his entire face, while making even somehow making more random moments of the film slightly more plausible than they could have been, no doubt thanks to his own abilities as an actor / martial artist and the end result despite the obvious budget restraints is the sort of enjoyable nonsense that you hope to find when hunting down these kinds of movies and while it is certainly not a lone example of dwarf-sploitation (if that’s the right term) with films like “The Terror of Tiny Town” and to an extent “Electra Glide In Blue” being other key examples, while Weng Weng would go on to make a sequel to this film “The Impossible Kid” aswell as the western “D’Wild Wild Weng” before his star began to fade, while this still remains one of the better and certainly more fun examples of the genre.

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