Monday, March 1, 2010

The Impossible Kid (Philippines, 1982)

My guess is that, if you don’t know who Weng Weng is by this point, you’re probably not the kind of person who’s going to care who Weng Weng is anyway. And if that’s the case, you obviously came upon this blog by mistake, perhaps thinking that it was a commercial site for some kind of overzealous pest control company or something.

Then again, I may be wrong about that. After all, those who keep abreast of internet memes and those with a taste for obscure cult movies are not necessarily one and the same. Just as, conversely, it’s a rare type who will go from chuckling at the exploits of Weng Weng or Little Superstar in a two minute YouTube clip to actually seeking out one of their movies. (I am one of these kinds of people. Can you guess which one?)

If you are, in fact, that impossible creature who does not know who Weng Weng is yet actually wants to, I’m not quite sure where to begin. What detailed information there is on the web about him – at least in English – is almost inevitably the result of the efforts of one mad Australian, and any biography I might attempt would merely be a paraphrasing of his words. So here’s a link to Andrew’s blog, and, from yours truly, a thumbnail:

At first an embarrassment to Imelda Marcos – who made a pet project out of promoting Filipino cinema only to see her beloved Manila International Film Festival serve as the launching point for the international success of a zero-budget midget spy film – and later a force to be reckoned with – as evidenced by her later pairing up with him for a famous rendition of “My Way” – Weng Weng, an extremely tiny man with some apparent martial arts training, was a very big deal in the Philippines for a very short time during the 80s. And the starting point for said big deal-ness was For Y’ur Height Only, a 1981 film in which he portrayed a 2 foot, 9 inch tall super spy with the code name Agent 00 – a film whose hastily produced, 1982 sequel, The Impossible Kid, is the subject of my post today.

The first thing to note about The Impossible Kid is that it is actually quite enjoyable. And it is enjoyable because its makers made the wise decision to play everything perfectly straight. As a result, it’s a pretty standard, low budget 80s action movie whose hero – to use the appropriate PC parlance – just so happens to be less than three feet tall. And while the comedic contrasts that result from that fact are inevitable, they are never forced, with our hero’s size more likely to be presented as an asset to his work as a high flying Interpol agent than an impediment. (He is easily concealed, for one thing, and can make narrow escapes that are considerably narrower than what his less compact counterparts can manage.) All of this has the astonishing result that, by the end of The Impossible Kid, you actually find yourself kind of buying into the whole concept.

Of course, when you have Weng Weng fronting your movie, you really don’t have to strive much to underscore its novelty, as the man is as much a human special effect as he is an actor. Though the condition responsible for his size is described as a form of dwarfism, his body is pretty much normally proportioned, which, combined with his face’s apparent inability to assume anything resembling an actual expression, gives him the appearance of being a living action figure. For the viewer, there’s a resulting cognitive dissonance that occurs whenever he steps into a scene alongside normal sized props and actors, and that dissonance is compounded a thousand fold when he then proceeds to spin kick and karate chop everyone in that room as if her were some kind of toddler-sized Battle Top.

Anyone who’s already seen For Y’ur Height Only will have a good idea of what the action in The Impossible Kid comprises. Once again we have lots of Weng Weng being tossed around and punching bad guys in the balls. He also gets a cool toy motorcycle to tear around on, which is used to especially good effect in a scene where he pulls up alongside a big rig filled with bad guys and tries to get them to pull over. Said bad guys this time around are a gang lead by a hooded figure called Cobra, who are responsible for kidnapping and assassinating a number of the P.I.’s leading citizens as part of a sweeping extortion scheme. Once Weng Weng is put on the case, we get the expected roundelay of murder attempts, tight squeezes and fevered chases, all given an added injection of surrealism by the fact that one of the participants is just really, really small.

The Impossible Kid sustains its Bond-in-miniature conceit to the point of going above and beyond to present its hero as pure sexual chocolate, so that Weng Weng can go nowhere without being pursued by besotted, full-sized and full-figured women ready to melt into his diminutive arms. Whether they do this out of some kind of misguided maternal feeling or are simply attracted to the idea of a man who can be fit in his entirety into their vaginas I’m not sure. But the movie’s brassy theme song, featuring the Philippines’ answer to Shirley Bassey hollering “I love you, Weng Weng!”, certainly goes a long way toward putting the exclamation point on the idea.

In closing, my purpose on Earth here today is to tell you people – whether you are ignorant entirely of Weng Weng, or are merely a Weng Weng dilettante whose all like “Oh OF COURSE I know Weng Weng” despite never having sat through one of his films in their entirety – that Weng Weng’s Agent 00 movies are not merely the tiresome novelty items that you very justifiably assume them to be. They’re actually a lot of fun. Now, whether the same can be said of Weng Weng’s crack at the Western genre, D’Wild Wild Weng Weng, is a question that will have to be addressed another day.



memsaab said...

Dilettante that I am, Weng Weng is now inextricably entwined in my mind with Master Raju Shrestha, his small child doppelganger.

WW tempts me, yes he does, but I don't have TIME for all the films out there I want to see!


Todd said...

I understand. But Memsaab, like Imelda Marcos, you will someday have to reckon with Weng Weng. I suggest that you start hording shoes for the occassion.

the jaded viewer said...

Ahh the mini me of the 70s. The fact that Weng Weng starred in his own movies makes Verne Troyer look like a nobody.

Todd said...

It appears that nothing written about Weng Weng is complete without mentioning the fact that, while Verne Troyer is shorter than Weng Weng, Weng Weng is the shortest actor ever to appear in a leading role in a film.

Keith said...

Weng Weng was also a capable man of action and stuntwork. Impossible Kid is a great film, if for no other reason than it seems like someone watched For Y'ur Height Only and thought, "You know what's missing? Tits." And the scene where Weng Weng drifts down into an overly affectionate German guy's arms is...haunting.

Todd said...

OMG! "What a pretty boy! Where did you come from?" Let me also note that the guy was shirtless and really hairy. Add to that the fact that Weng Weng seemed to be enjoying the attention. Haunting, indeed.