Documentary Films: The Search For Weng Weng

As a reviewer, I sometimes struggle to find an interesting movie to watch. I have a fear of the unknown, especially when it comes to movies I haven’t heard about. It, like most fears, is not rational but it has it clutches on me.  Often times, when you get mysterious screeners, you end up watching a film that is not very good. This is not one of those times. The Search for Weng Weng is one of the more comprehensive and engaging documentaries I have seen about cult cinema and b-movies in sometime.

Directed by Australian filmmaker and cult film aficionado Andrew Leavold, The Search For Weng Weng is about Leavold and his search for information about the life and films of the Filipino actor known as Weng Weng.  Weng Weng was a martial artist listed in the Guinness World Records as the shortest adult actor in a leading role. While searching for information about the man, Leavold takes us on a journey not just through Weng Weng’s life but also through the history of Filipino B-Movie cinema.

As someone who is unfamiliar with Weng Weng’s story and much of Filipino cinema, Leavold tells an engaging and fascinating story about the world’s most unlikely action star. The interviews in the film are funny and revealing. We not only get to learn about who Weng Weng was as an actor, we get to learn who he was as a person. I am thankful that Leavold managed to get folks who are very willing to speak up about such a memorable and interesting figure in Filipino film culture.

This film is a crash course to a style of filmmaking that many of us westerners are not exposed to or know about. I haven’t seen anything nearly as crazy as some of the archival footage of Weng Weng shown in this film. I must confess that I have not seen or heard of any of Weng Weng’s films. After seeing this documentary, I have made it my mission to see these films in any way, shape or form.  I am sure that those who enjoy B-Movies like I do will get the same feeling after watching this.

What ties this film together is the passion and dedication Leavold has not only for the titular subject but also for the genre of movies he was a part of. You can feel Leavold’s clear passion for Weng Weng’s story emanates throughout every scene in the film. He is very interested in letting us know about who this man was and what kind of films he made.  I appreciated about the film did not follow the structure or tone that similar documentaries about cult films have done. I liked that this does not see Weng Weng as a punchline or a joke shared between weird friends. It was not made to make fun of this man or the type of film he was a part of.  This was a clear labor of love and it feels like it. I hope that you seek this film when it comes out as both Leavold and I see Weng Weng as an interesting character of cult cinema that more people need to know about.  
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Liam S. O'Connor