The legend of “For Y’ur Height Only”
In the annals of cheap B grade movies, Weng Weng is the super spy to emulate.
Like Clint Eastwood he shoots off his gun more than his mouth, carries hackneyed miniaturized gadgets better than Bond, lands cracking kung fu round house kicks à la Bruce Lee and unwinds by out-thrusting John Travolta’s disco moves in a white polyester suit.
Weng Weng as the Chihuahua sized Agent 00 stands all of 3 inches short of 3 feet. You read it right; he’s 2’9″ tall. And he makes an entry as grand as that of Amitabh Bachchan in “Trishul”. Even more memorable.
At the end of a mission, this lean, mean fighting machine leaves behind a body count that makes Rambo seem like an incontinent choir boy with a toy gun.
He leaps off rooftops…
….lands nut cracking flying kicks…
…and hits the bull’s eye every time; all this while sporting a beatific smile straight out of a mythological TV serial.
With a God created face that only a parent could love,
…the ladies can resist only so long before succumbing to his charm: Weng is a Full on chick magnet.
Stating the obvious, “For Y’ur Height Only” (1981) is a James Bond parody (title inspired by “For Your Eyes Only” released the same year) with a liberal dose of the Weng aura.
For anyone weaned on classical cinema, watching a film so guileless and primitive will surely lead to a seismic disturbance in your cultivated aesthetics.
Weng looks into the camera and waits for direction so routinely it appears he isn’t even aware of a feature film being shot as opposed to a home video. Consistent with its erratic editing, pitiable production values, non-existent acting and dubious dubbing this gem selects itself for requisite viewing for “Bad Movie Night”; but it’s not about that at all.
Afflicted with a genetic condition termed as “primordial dwarfism”, Weng Weng (christened Ernesto de la Cruz) was born in 1957 and miraculously lived to see his first birthday as the divine ink went into overdrive while writing his future to compensate him for his physical inadequacies.
He trained to become a skilled martial artist and landed bit parts in Fillipino films which by the 1970’s had become the far eastern Mecca of schlocky, exploitation cinema peddling nudity and violence.
This study of this genre has recently been researched and chronicled in the documentary “Machete Maidens Unleashed”.
For Your Height Only launched Weng into the rarified atmosphere of super-stardom. Articles, interviews, TV appearances and luncheons with the President, he was made an honorary Philippine Secret Agent and presented with a custom-made .25 caliber pistol. He became the toast of the 1982 Manila Film Festival after which his legend grew from Uganda to Iceland.
The central premise of the film revolves around the drug lord Mr. Giant and his goons kidnapping an American scientist who has just landed in Manila with the formula for the apocalyptic sounding “N-Bomb”.
A series of banal cliches follow; shootouts and occasions to use his gadgets including the X-ray glasses gleefully tested on office secretaries…
…a killer pen, a poison detector ring and remote-controlled lethal flying hat.
All the stunts were performed by Weng including wheeling down a rope from a Ferris-wheel and being tossed around mid air with a jet pack on his back.
Being a brave-heart, if you can wager why the villain wants the formula (myriad of choices) and who stands in his way (ahem!), you have pretty much solved the puzzling plot till it hits you; it’s not about that at all.
It’s all about Weng, the hero with the “can do” spirit, with whom physiology has been brutal by running roughshod over his aspirations as a ‘normal’ person. He is the champion who refuses to acknowledge his short-comings and plays the action hero just as normally as Akshay “Khiladi” Kumar would.
Weng is the patron saint of less than mediocre mortals who, in all innocence, are ravaged by inherited mutation and birth defects. He actuates the inspirational possibility to excel in the face of fate decrying otherwise.
The pint-sized dynamo challenged all and won; in life as in film.
He was truly destiny’s child. Weng died in 1992, aged 34. The Weng magic was all about believing in yourself.
It’s a shame it took me so long to discover him.
You can also check out “The search for Weng Weng”, a documentary by Andrew Leavold.