Thursday, April 3, 2014

Around The World in Widescreen: By William O Donnell

Around The World in Widescreen
My good friend Gorehound Mike seems to have a lock on coverage and reviews of the US/Asutralian/English speaking countries’ wild, weird, and wonderfully wacky films, so he asked me to do a column for him about the  world-wide weird and wonderfully wacky cinema masterpieces
“For Your Height Only/Challenger of the Tiger”
Mondo Macabro. those renowned purveyors of cinematic strangeness, strike again with this double feature—
Sorry, had to get that out there right away.  Weng Weng is, of course, the star of For Your Height Only.  A Flipino/US co-production that shamelessly rips off a James Bond movie title (from the same release year!) to tell the story of a diminutive secret agent (Agent 00) and his attempt to save the world from the megalomaniacal Mr. Giant and his gang of ruthless thugs from blowing up the Earth… or something.  Of course, he has an array of trial-size gadgets (X-ray specs!  The tiniest sniper rifle ever!  A jetpack!) to aid him in his mission, which seems to consist of dick-punching every villain he comes across and seducing a woman or two, even managing to win over a woman who describes him as “cute, like a little potato.”  Love finds a way, of course, because how can the ladies resist a line like “Well, shall we get it on?”  Action sequences, and chases of some sort or another abound, and Agent 00 even has time to cut loose on the damcefoor at a disco.   It doesn’t matter that Weng Weng gets the drop on all the henchmen he encounters (after all, the dick-punch is the great equalizer), or that the wires on the jetpack can be easily visible, or that the theme is just different enough from the James Bond theme that this film’s makers don’t get sued.   What does matter, is that this is pure, unabashed, escapist fun from start to finish. 

It’s a pity Weng Weng wasn’t present in the next movie to dick-punch the bad guys into submision.  “Challenge of the Tiger” begins with scientists who have just invented a serum to sterilize every man in the world.  Bypassing the obvious question (“Why?”), these scientists fret and wring their hands over the possibility of their invention “falling into the wrong hands.”  From there, we cut to the leads:  Bruce Le, who also choreographed the martial arts/co-wrote/directed (and went for coffee, too, for all I know), and also looks for all the world like an Asian Joey Ramone, and Richard Harrison, who resembles Timothy Dalton with lighter hair.  The division of labor becomes clear pretty quickly, with Bruce Le’s character establishing himself as the ass-kicking part of the duo, and Richard Harrison’s character is the “smooth talking” ladies’ man.  This movie is at its best when it keeps to Le’s chop-socky action sequences.  Scenes in which Harrison does the fighting are sadly lackluster.  The henchmen are the sorriest looking bunch.  The skeevy thugs of “For Your Height Only” are more convincing.  If this were more quirky, or better yet, if Weng Weng were present, or even better, both, this movie would be much more entertaining.  As it is, you might want to fast forward through this to find out whether Le and Harrison succeed in preventing the world from shooting blanks.         

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