Directors: Eddie Nicart & Bruce Le
Mondo Macabro

Dipping once again into the moldy library of Dick Randall, the world’s most craptastic producer, Mondo Macabro has finally unearthed two schlocky, entertaining features that ring true to the label’s love for weird international cinema. Previously issued on a barebones bootleg disc, FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY is one of the Holy Grails of Asian cult cinema, and the kung fu classic CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER features some of the wildest scenes of any film in the genre!

Agent 00, aka Weng Weng, is a 2 ½ -foot tall international super spy with a face only a mother could love and the wiles of an alley cat. He is assigned to take down an international drug ring that is smuggling heroin inside loaves of bread. Along the way, he assassinates a mob boss intent on killing beautiful Lola and gets into all kind of scrapes. Thankfully, he has a myriad of gadgets at his disposal, including X-ray glasses (which he tests on a pair of beautiful secretaries), a poison detector ring, a jet pack to fly over the bad guys, a flying hat, a killer pen, and his trusty belt buckle.

FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY would make a killer double feature with a similar gimmick-driven spy spoof, Doris Wishman’s DOUBLE AGENT 73. Both films are filled with hilarious dubbed dialogue, bizarre editing, cheap camerawork, barely-there performances, and bargain basement production values that make the finished product such an entertaining piece of crap. Shot in the Philippines, land of a thousand exploitation masterpieces, this one is no exception. The pace is brisk, firing the ridiculous action scenes at the audience every couple of minutes and keeping things interesting in-between by inserting slapstick humor, dubbed dialogue which sounds completely improvised, beautiful damsels in distress, and random shootouts and villains into the mix. The whole thing doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it’s an outrageous, one-of-a-kind ride that is mandatory viewing for the jaded cult film fan.

Weng Weng was obviously not cast because of his pert acting abilities, and is barely given any dialogue. Instead, the film focuses on the eye-popping stuntwork this little guy does all by himself, the outrageous fight scenes with the midget martial arts expert kicking ass and biting buns, and somehow he manages to attract a legion of attractive babe followers. A welcome sense of humor is written into his character, as he winks and smiles at his opponents before attacking; however, most of the humor is unintentional, as Weng Weng seems oblivious that a movie is being shot around him and he definitely gives Chesty Morgan competition in the bad acting category.

Desperate for more kooky spy action? Look no further than CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER, co-written, choreographed, co-produced, directed by, and starring Bruce Le, the most successful Bruce Lee-a-like of the kung fu genre! Two scientists invent a sterilization drug that causes impotence in any man who takes it…and are promptly shot by two burly bad guys who barge into their lab! Assigned to track down the stolen serum are Hong Kong agent Wong and his womanizing partner, Richard Cannon, who travel all over the world, following false leads and various villains and femme fatales on a wild goose chase to the final showdown with the big boss.

Kung fu films are usually a dime a dozen, so the genre’s popularity has mostly flown over this writer’s head, but CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER is an entertaining mix of martial arts, Bond-style action, and nude ladies that emerges as a solid exploitation flick. The story of a world domination scheme is a mere clothesline on which to hang the countless fight scenes, cheesy nude and sex scenes, and hilarious dubbed dialogue. Topless women play tennis, frolic in a pool, and make out with Richard Cannon in slow motion to a cover version of Bobby Bloom’s “Montego Bay”; Wong dukes it out with an enraged bull in a bullring; a Doberman growls with the dubbed-in sounds of a poodle; Cannon screws every lady he runs into, including Miss Spain in a bubble bath; great footage is shown of Hong Kong street life; Isaac Hayes’ “Run Fay Run” is used with no regard for copyright and classical music popular from Findlay films accents a fight scene; Cannon is double-crossed by a sexy Hong Kong dame and kung fu fights in nothing but a towel; CHINESE HERCULES star Bolo Yeung and producer Dick Randall appear; two motorcyclists chase Wong and Cannon around Macao; and more brainmelting surprises pop up to amaze unprepared viewers.

The real surprise here is seeing two American acting studs, popular from Italian films, appearing in this Hong Kong film: Richard Harrison and Brad Harris! Harris was a popular muscleman in peplums beginning in the 60s, and still looks good here as a shades-wearing bad guy; he even has a weight-lifting scene! Mustachioed ladies man Harrison would appear nude in D’Amato’s ORGASMO NERO around this time, so any shame he may have had at the start of his career was out the window by 1980. Harrison retired as exploitation died in the late 80s and now lives in California; Harris, often confused with the late Gordon Mitchell, still gives interviews for magazines, websites and DVD releases.

A disclaimer precedes FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY explaining that the transfer was made from the best elements possible, but is still below usual Mondo Macabro standards. This is true, as the only material available was a tape master, but it is still much brighter, clearer, and more colorful than the previous bootleg disc. There aren’t any obvious signs of wear or tear, save for a few white lines during the opening credits, and grain is kept to a minimum. CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER, letterboxed at 2.35:1 in its original Scope aspect ratio, looks stunning, apparently from an original negative. Colors are sharp and bold, the image is clean and bright (save for brief instances of dirt and a few print jumps), and this is one of the loveliest transfers for a kung fu film on any DVD.

DVD Maniac Ian Jane contributes an entertaining tongue-in-cheek essay on his love for Weng Weng, but the joke wears thin due to the piece’s length. Pete Tombs and Julian Grainger’s essays on Dick Randall, Weng Weng, and bios of Bruce Le and Brad Harris are much better, and packed with information in Tombs’ wonderful writing style. Some of the nuggets included: TIGER was co-directed by Italian director Paolo Solvay; Richard Harrison directed the infamous topless tennis sequence; Weng Weng was a customs officer before breaking into movies. Separate stills galleries for both films are composed of lobby cards and promo stills. The Mondo Macabro promo reel plays out this stellar double-feature disc of Asian cult madness! (Casey Scott)

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