THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG
• RELEASE DATE: Now Available on DVD (Click Here to Purchase a Copy)
• WRITTEN BY: Andrew Leavold, Daniel Palisa
• DIRECTED BY: Andrew Leavold
• STARRING: Weng Weng
-Reviewed by Daniel XIII
The world of exploitation cinema is a weird and wild place my creeps. Take for instance this lil’ nugget; did you know that in the early ‘80’s Filipino film makers made their own version of James Bond, but cast a two foot tall man in the lead role? Well, they sure as shit did, and next to nothing is known of Weng Weng; the actor that filled the (incredibly small) shoes of the lead role. So why was ol’ double Weng relegated to obscurity even in the country of his origin? That is the question that THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG sets out to answer…and oh what answers do we get!
Starting off with a bit of shame for “exploiting” Weng Weng’s disability for entertainment, we soon learn there is so very, very much more to the fascinating history of the diminutive star. Now while I disagree that he was exploited on the screen (he became a full-on celebrity with all that entails for shit’s sake, plus he was the hero of his films, the leading man!); there is no doubt he was exploited by the Caballes family who “adopted” him from a life of poverty and made him a super star, yet never gave him the money he was due…and believe me, the tale gets sadder from there.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that this is a complete downer of a flick; quite the contrary! As the story of Weng Weng’s life plays out we get absolutely absorbed into a tale of (possibly fabricated) wild womanizing, real life secret agent goings-on, religious mysticism, the insanity of the Marcos regime, and “fly by the seat of your pants” film making! A heady concoction indeed; and one that makes for an absolutely compelling watch!
While I would tell you to grab a copy of THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG based on the astounding strength and entertainment vale of the film alone; those rascally devils at Wild Eye Releasing have saw fit to include some great bonus content on this release as well! First up is a lively and uproarious commentary by director Andrew Leavold; next up are some extended interviews with Weng Weng’s brother (as well as his close friend) and Filipino director Eddie Nicart, and an additional interview with actor Palito. All add a great wealth of additional information to the legacy of Weng Weng. Also included are an audio only Q&A sesh with Leavold from the Sydney Underground Film Festival, a music video, and a weird trailer for another film from director Leavold.
So there you have it; if you are a fan of off beat cinema, THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG should immediately have a place in your collection; it’s a heartfelt and beautifully crafted tribute to a true icon of our beloved exploitation genre!