Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY (1981)

A fine example of the spontaneous genius that can emerge from a cauldron of collaboration, FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY is a benchmark of the heights that only socialist ways can attain, a shimmery proto-star in the new redder, white and blue Amerika. Or something. It's tough to discern just how jokily the Filipino makers and actors intended this Bond rip-off to play...it's clearly a jocular riff, with midget(? Correct? Not dwarf? Because I have checked his proportions) Weng-Weng leading as a diminutive superspy. But the English dubbers have possibly upped the ante with dialogue like, "They said they'd peddle my pretty bod as a prositute!" and "You're such a little guy...very petite...like a potato." Divergent talents converge to create an entertaining whole, far beyond the black hole of joy that is THE NOTEBOOK (fuck you, Sparks). Cf GOLDEN QUEENS COMMANDO, if you have the ganas.

The plot is appropriately absurd. In a very-much mirroring of Bond, Agent 00 (who always introduces himself, brilliantly, as "Secret Agent 00"), is given weapon after hi-tech weapon, to be used ONCE and then disposed and forgotten, a la disaster capitalism and THE A-TEAM and Wal*Mart. The mise-en-scenez are also episodic, with precious little relevance to a coherent plot. More or less, FOR Y'UR is a strung-together collection of "hey, we have this midget, so what now?" kinds of low-concept conceits. But scenarios are overplayed far less than one might expect—the sliding across the floor gag being a notable exception.

As I said, the funny business definitely gained market capitalization once the dubbers were brought on board. Consequently, we have Filipinos who sound like Speedy Gonzales as well as Andy Kaufman's Tony Clifton character. In lesser hands, this might have been a dreary yawn, but FOR Y'UR originators and translators make the extra effort to throw as much inane bullshit at you as possible. And, really, is this WORSE than the Brosnan Bonds? Some of you might feel reticent to delight in a spy flick which uses a midget as its main gimmick. You should read THE LIVES AND LOVES OF DAISY & VIOLET HILTON and reflect what "normal life" would be for an extraordinary person. $6.25 to cashier at a Dollar General and people would continue to stare anyway versus flying across ravines on a mini-jetpack and making more paper than a scrapbook factory.

FOR Y'UR HEIGHT is an exploitation film of rarefied life, fun all the way through. Highest recommendations to all, but especially those looking to embark on a journey through the cinema of Southeast Asia.