For Y'ur Height Only: If Ed Wood had been given the chance to make an unofficial James Bond movie in the late-1970's, this could well have been the film that he eventually turned in. It's a strange hybrid of spy adventure, comedy, and martial arts movie, starring Filipino actor Weng Weng.
Weng plays Agent 00, who's on a mission to stop Mr Giant and Mr Keiser from exporting heroin, and to save Dr Cola in the process. At least, this is what it seems to be, because in all honesty, the plot is barely in existence. Irrespective, this is a hilariously inept, and drastically convoluted film, that is so utterly bad, so truly useless, that it's almost a work of genius!
As Exploitation movies go, I don't think this is really a true exploitation film. But here, no one's really being exploited, unless you count the viewer. It's really more of a straight action title. The cast and crew seem to be playing it quite seriously, and don't appear to be trying to spoof the genre, nor is there gratuitous violence, nudity or gore. And yet, despite saying that, as you watch this total disaster unfold, you have to wonder if Weng knew he was leaving this movie as his legacy.
Weng, you see, was just under three feet tall. He was originally a Customs Officer at the local Phillipine airport, but he kept trying to break into the media. Through contacts with local TV and movie stars passing through the airport, he managed to get noticed by producer Dick Randall, who came up with the idea of Agent 00 specifically for Weng.
As films go, this is on a trashy, un-PC level that even John Waters and Bernard Manning, couldn't aspire to. In fact, what we have is one of the finest, most frivolous and inept movies I've ever watched, but a film that is so bad, it's complete genius! For starters, no one can act! Weng is given as little dialogue as possible, so that he only has to worry about giving a convincing performance in the lead role. The other cast are no better. But what makes this film so truly inspired, is the fact that whilst most of the cast appear to have spoken English during filming, they've all been dubbed over by other people who bear no resemblance to who they're supposed to be playing. In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that the entire cast of the film, have been dubbed by a team of three or four people max. Conversations between two or three characters on-screen, sound like they are being performed by one actor, putting on terribly bad voices. To make matters worse (better!), sometimes the same character's voice changes part-way through the movie, as if the original dubber that day was ill, and someone was asked to take on the role on a temporary basis. On top of this, the dubber's voices bear no resemblance to the characters. Undercover agent Irma (actress Anna Marie Gutierrez) has her voice performed by someone who sounds not unlike Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II! It's bizarre! Background characters who appear for just a few seconds, are often overheard not talking, just mumbling because the dubbing artists couldn't be bothered to come-up with relevant dialogue to fill the scenes. It's completely crap, and yet, I'd go so far to label it as a genuine work of genius! Nothing else can sum it up!
This film is truly "out there"! It's ultimately nothing more than a Phillipine version of Bond, even down to the characters, the gadgets, the bedding of women in the middle of scenes, and the retro rip-off of John Barry's famous Bond theme tune. And yet, I love it! There's something so bad about it, you can't help but enjoy spotting all the things that are completely wrong with the production. From clichéd characters, scene rip-offs from other films, continuity errors, stunt gaffs. It's all there, and I'm certain that you'll spend 88 minutes doing exactly what I did - which was laughing at a film so bad, even Alan Smithee wouldn't want to put his name to it!
With all that said and done, I need to talk about the disc itself. Just prior to the start of the film, Mondo Macabro have put a short disclaimer, stating that the disc has been taken from the best available master print, but that the picture quality varies and should not be compared to modern day movies. They also apologise to viewers, and hope that the picture quality won't put off fans from watching this title. I can see why the disclaimer is necessary, because the print is very soft, with a lot of glitches. There are bad edits, where the master print has probably been composited from different print sets. There's a fair amount of scratches and marks on the prints, plenty of grain, and lots of other image problems. The nearest I can compare the film too, is an ex-rental VHS tape. It's not good at all, but there is a certain charm to watching such a bad film, in such a battered print, especially as it's 25 years old since it was made. The audio is monaural, split into a left and right stereo channels, but it's clear, hiss-free and does the job. There are plenty of occasions when the dubbing doesn't match the cast's lip movements, but it's tolerable, in a hokey kind of fashion.
The extras, are reasonable, but nothing special: a couple of sets of on-screen text files, about Weng Weng and Dick Randall, plus a short stills gallery, which is nothing more than publicity scenes taken from the film. In all honesty, I have to say that there is likely to not have been any extras available, unless Mondo Macabro had made a documentary featurette themselves, which is unlikely to have been financially worthwhile. So it would be wrong for me to slate the disc for the lack of extras. My only real complaint, is that the disc is labelled as "For Your Height Only", and the onscreen title of the film, is "For Y'ur Height Only". I don't know why the onscreen title varies, but it does beg the question why nobody checked this out. Secondly, the tagline states that Weng Weng is three feet tall, but the back cover of the disc states he's just over two-and-a-half-feet tall. Again, it would have been nice for Mondo Macabro to have double-checked this.
Despite that, the film is fun, and certainly worth buying, if you want something silly and easily enjoyed. It's probably best watched after a long drinking session, because if you try to approach the film seriously - as I originally tried to - you'll loathe it with a passion. Just don't expect anything special. This is a cheap and dumb film, to be laughed at, rather than with.
One final note: the film itself would probably rate a 12 certificate in the UK, as there's little to cause any major offence. There are a lot of scenes of Weng stomping, kicking and punching men in their groin areas, which parents may not approve of, but other than that, the film's no worse than most Bond movies filmed in the 1970's or 1980's. Having said that, the Mondo Macabro trailers are very graphic and explicit, so don't let your kids access those! (There looks to be some excellent titles due out in 2006, albeit in the USA, rather than the UK!)
Challenge Of The Tiger: After martial arts legend Bruce Lee died, the Hong Kong film industry desperately wanted to keep his name in the public concious. There followed numerous imitators, all taking on variations of his name, including Bruce Li, Bruce Le, and numerous others. None of them came near to the Master himself, despite the spurious claims of the movie executives, With all that said-and-done though, it led to a rash of movie rip-offs that are still released on DVD to this day, that try to cash in on his name. "Challenge Of The Tiger" is claimed to be Bruce Le's best film ever. Personally speaking - and I'm likely to be shot for saying this - the real Bruce Lee wasn't a particularly great actor! His stunts were outstanding, but as an actor, he just couldn't cut the mustard. So, I'm rather taken back when people try to extol the virtues of "Enter The Dragon", "Fists Of Fury", and his other major releases. As such, any film that claims to be one of Lee's imitators best films, is rather spurious in my mind. It's the equivalent of saying that one pile of dog shit is a nicer pile, in comparison to a pile of human shit. Whichever you favour, it's still just shit!
This bonus film, included on this Mondo Macabro DVD, is reasonable, but certainly not good or great, by any standards. It's the kind of martial arts movie, you might have rented from the local video rental store in the 1980's, because you'd seen all the other really good martial arts movies they had in stock.
Bruce Le, (whose real name is Huang Kin-Lung), is trying to stop an evil dictator's plan to take over the world, after a scientist creates a medicine that neutralises sperm, in both animals and humans, thus rendering all forms of reproduction futile. (Hey, I never said that the plot was going to be particularly clever, did I!) Just as Bruce Le is a pale imitator of the Master himself, so is this film.
Putting it bluntly, this is another rubbish martial arts film, that should clearly have been left hidden in a Hong Kong film vault somewhere, to slowly gather dust and eventually break-up into brittle pieces of celluloid. It's an 18-certificate disaster from start-to-finish, full of endless female nudity, dodgy sex scenes in soap-filled bathtubs, and chop-socky violence that looks as shoddy as hell! Bad acting, chronic dubbing, a plot so infantile, that you can almost see why Bruce Le is named as the writer and director, as well as the lead character. (Obviously, this guy was desperate to make a name for himself!) The fighting scenes, of which there are many, are all as dull as each other. They're made worse, by the fact that the dubbing is done so badly, (by English dub artists), that neither the voices nor the sounds are in synch, ending-up with a movie that lets you hear a punch long after you've seen it being delivered.
The film is also full of exploitation stereotypes. The evil foreigner. The overtly muscular bodyguard. The big, evil gangland boss. The pretty reporter. It's truly awful in every aspect. On its own, this film wouldn't even warrant a 50% reduction in "Poundland". Thankfully, it's an extra that can safely be ignored, as you have the superior "For Y'ur Height Only" to keep you more thoroughly entertained.
"Challenge Of The Dragon" is full of continuity gaffs, including dead people breathing, vehicles with their lights being on, then off, then on again in the same scene, and many, many others. The biggest gaff, though, is when the title of the film appears, followed by the onscreen cast list appears. The title has been inserted into the wrong part of the credits! After the cast list are shown, the words "… star in", and then the title should appear. Nope! We just get a split-second blank screen, before the credits continue, (and degenerate in quality, to the point, they become unreadable) instead! Whoops!
Although Mondo Macabro have released the movie in 2.20:1 Widescreen (non-anamorphic), the print is so battered and scratched, that it should really have been left in 4:3 instead. I think it looks worse in Widescreen, and there are scenes when the characters appear to be too short and fat. Could this be an encoding problem, or a piss-poor print?
Ultimately, if you want this disc, buy it for "For Y'ur Height Only", but try to get it at as low a price as you can, because overall, the disc isn't one of Mondo Macabro's best, which is a real shame. Hopefully, though, their 2006 titles will be a little more enjoyable.
Review by "Pooch".
|Released by Mondo Macabro|
|Region 0 NTSC|
|Extras : see main review|