Sunday, January 1, 2017

Search For Weng Weng (2013) reviews

"The reviews are in!" THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG 


1Kult.com (Lucas Balbo) [French] “...Do not miss this incredible saga on the smallest movie star.” 

366 Weird Movies (G. Smalley) “...an unexpectedly substantial, insightful, and even moving documentary… In Search of Weng Weng proves to be almost as much about the Filipino soul and the social context out of which Weng Weng arose as it is about the life of the forgotten celebrity.”

10K Bullets (Michael Den Boer) “There are equally obsessive filmmakers whose will go to great extremes to even the most unlikely of stories. Case in point, The Search for Weng Weng. Content wise, this film delivers the goods and then some… an extraordinary film and a true labor of love that cult movie enthusiasts are sure to thoroughly enjoy.”

Arts And Opinion(Daniel Charchuk) “Leavold’s film plays out less like a structured biography than an archeological excavation, discovering scraps of information along the way. Though this allows the movie to feel fresher than your conventional bio-doc, it also gives it a rough, shaggy feel that hews closer to the types of B-movie exploitation flicks it’s honouring. This coherence of content and form, however unpolished, elevates the work, if ever so slightly, from a typical cult icon portrait to something more fascinating and essential.” (Nancy Snipper) “Few documentaries bring to light in such a big way, the sad and incredible story of the littlest Pilipino in history.”

Arts Hub (Tara Watson) “...a promising tale with a captivating story but confused in both structure and purpose… While Leavold’s efforts and dedication to his subject are commendable, the resulting documentary lacks focus and climaxes without a true sense of who the real Weng Weng actually was.” (2/5)

Asia Cine [Spanish] “A wonderful experience even for the people who hardly know who Weng Weng is. Not only a portrait of a used and abused man but about a political-social-cinematographic age of Philippines, an experience that is worth to be seen in every possible places.”

The Austin Chronicle (Richard Whittaker) “It initially pales in comparison to Mark Hartley's hyper-kinetic and definitive guide to Filipino-shot U.S. exploitation cinema, Machete Maidens Unleashed! It also feels like it will be hard pushed to sustain a 90-minute runtime, especially when the hunt for Weng Weng seemingly comes to an unexpectedly brief resolution. However, that's exactly when the story gets interesting.”

Back Seat Mafia (Rob Aldam) “Whilst it’s a fascinating story, it’s short of major revelations. However, it is a well-made portrait of a unique character.”

Battle Royale With Cheese (Rosalynn Try-Hane) “...moving, funny, touching, sometimes clumsy but above all passionate about discovering the fate of Weng Weng… It is an enjoyable, interesting and informative documentary about Weng Weng and the Filipino film industry and a must watch for anyone interested in learning more about this part of the world or just seeing the results of a 7 year quest by a passionate cinephile.”
 
Beneath The Underground (Jim Morazzini) "A fascinating look at a unique figure, THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG is a must see for fans of classic exploitation films and weird films in general."

Beyond Chron (Peter Wong) “For sheer bizarreness, S.F. IndieFest hits a high mark with Andrew Leavold’s documentary… Leavold shows the story behind the film’s star is also something worth noticing.”

Beyond The Gore “Initially I thought this was a spoof documentary of a spoof film, I didn’t even believe the press release! It was only when I did a bit of research I found out that indeed the search for Weng Weng was the labour of love it was advertised to be… I am in no way a sentimental person (or so my dearest tell me), but it was difficult not to feel inspired by Weng Weng’s story and Leavold’s documentary was the perfect medium through which to tell it. (5/5)

Black Belt (Craig D. Reid) “...a far-out documentary… When wacky meets crazy like it does in this movie, the results are entertaining, and just when you think it can’t get any nuttier, it does.”

The Brisbane Times (Natalie Bochenski) “This film is destined to become an Australian underground classic… This labour of love is a fascinating portrait of the Filipino film industry and an extraordinary account of an inexplicable cinematic phenomenon.”

Brutal As Hell (Tristan Bishop) “As a documentary, The Search For Weng Weng is a little rough around the edges (not unsurprising for what is essentially one man’s obsessive seven year quest), but keeps the interest due to a quick pace and the use of hundreds of clips of Weng Weng in action… The only real criticism I could give here would be that Leavold seems to be a pretty interesting and entertaining chap himself, and more of him on camera would have been nice to see, but when you have a documentary subject as rich and strange as Filipino B-movies… it doesn’t really matter all that much.”
 
Cebu Daily News (Gerard Pareja) [Cebuano]

Cinema Bluster (David J. Sharp) “Leavold’s intentions certainly are not nefarious or untruthful, but certain questions should be laid upon the accuracy and validity of not just the events but also as to whether or not these are the actual people that worked on these films. Nothing in The Search for Weng Weng assures the viewer that they are able to trust the information or the people, so you have to let go and accept everything on face value, which does not make a good documentary… The Search for Weng Weng is not a bad film by any means, I just don’t know if the viewer should trust it or not.”

Cinema Sentries (Luigi Bastardo) "...one of the finest documentaries ever produced about a time when Filipino cult/exploitation cinema was at its height... Personally, it was a sheer delight to watch a fellow cinemasochist/video store reject achieve such an amazing accomplishment as The Search for Weng Weng, and I cannot recommend this niche documentary on a world of cinema few contemporary explorers dare to venture in highly enough."

Cinema Crazed (Emilie Black) “The film is a good example of a fan documentary that is well made and brings something to entertain even people who are not into the genre or star being documented.”

Cinema Fantastique [French] “Nostalgic without being backward, The Search For Weng Weng is a rare and imperfect film, and as for the Weng Weng man, it is mostly his defects that make him so seductive.”

Cinemadrome (Robert Monell) “...wonderfully unpredictable, authoritatively detailed, relentlessly upbeat documentary… an exhilarating trip into the tangled underbrush of Asian cult cinema. In the central ring of this colorful circus is a small man behind a cult movie legend whom one director calls ‘a very, sad, lonely person’, now rediscovered, along with a large chunk of delirious Filipino genre cinema, in this documentary.”

Cinescribe (Nausica Zaballos) [French] “...the result of an obsession and rehabilitation work, is above all a seriously investigation by an obsessive...” 
 
City On Fire (Paul Bramhall) "...it’s an unknown journey into the unexpected, which is never anything less than entertaining, constantly propelled forward by Leavold’s unabashed enthusiasm to discover the truth, no matter how long it takes. When he does, the final product is one that not only serves to satisfy people’s curiosity about what became of Weng Weng, but also serves as a fitting tribute to his life." 8/10

Critic After Dark (Noel Vera) “...what Leavold reveals in his prodigiously affectionate piece of cinejournalism is that there are arcane pleasures to be found in this more disreputable branch of Philippine cinema… It's as if Leavold were practicing a paraphrase of Jean-Luc Godard's dictum: the best way to pay tribute to a beloved movie (and the wild and rollicking cinema behind it) is, in effect, to make another movie.”

Cult Montreal (Alex Rose) “It stands as an invaluable document of international cult cinema, to be filed alongside Mike Malloy’s Eurocrime!… and Mark Hartley’s seminal docs Machete Maidens Unleashed and Not Quite Hollywood.”

The Cultural Gutter (Keith Allison) “Far from his passion for movies resulting in a sedentary life, this film fan’s film fandom took him on a trip the likes of which few will ever experience. It is an adventure that not only makes a great film; but also would never have happened without film.”

Cyclic Defrost (Bob Baker Fish) “...equal parts a tale of Leavold’s unchecked obsession, a detective tale, uncovering Weng Weng’s strange and somewhat tragic life, and a history of the Filipino film industry, which at the peak of its powers was releasing over three hundred films a year for its domestic audience. Leavold weaves these multiple strands together effortlessly, there’s a real sense of discovery here...”

Daily Grindhouse (Matt Wedge) “If ever there was a documentary that could have been made specifically for us here at Daily Grindhouse, it is The Search For Weng Weng. If that’s not high praise, I don’t know what is.”

Dazed Digital (Sophie Brown) “Ultimately the film is a celebration of these brilliant, much-loved cult B-movies from an expert in the genre, and an utterly compelling story about an iconic actor named after a notoriously strong cocktail.”

Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! (Todd Stadtman) “Leavold’s documentary offers a testament to the worthiness of international pop cinema (or what some, Leavold included, might call ‘trash’ cinema) as a focus of close investigation… I think it’s perfectly reasonable to consider documentaries like it and Machete Maidens Unleashed as standing alongside “serious” works like Eleanor Coppola’s chronicle of the production of Apocalypse Now, Hearts of Darkness as essential filmic records of the Philippines’ cinematic history.”

Digital Retribution (Devon Bertsch) “For foreigners the film is a poignant tribute to a man that deserved more than he got out of life, and for Filipino people it's an absolutely gut wrenching tale. The Search for Weng Weng is a remarkable achievement and testimony to what two goofballs can achieve if they put their minds to it.”

Early Bird Film (John Noonan) “Equal parts fascinating, funny, heartbreaking, and a crash course in the history of Filipino cinema, The Search for Weng Weng could easily have been an excuse for pointing fingers and giggling behind hands. In reality, it’s a lovely documentary that will be fascinating, even to those not familiar with his work.”

Eastern Kicks (Stephen Palmer) “...there is so much to love about this movie, the love of the subject by the director is clear and honest. You do not have to be interested in obscure cult Asian cinema to enjoy this film. It is the story of a person and of a country. A little treat that deserves the love it is getting around the world.”

Eat Drink Film (Kelly Vance) “...bright, energetically entertaining...”

EFilmCritic (Jay Seaver) “It's not without bumps, as Leavold, something of an underground filmmaker, is filming his own quest and finds himself going around in circles a bit, often returning to the same point, letting information that will be contradicted stand, and ultimately allowing a lot of the uncertainty of making the film overshadow what he's learning during the making of it. It perhaps reflects the way he learned things, but it doesn't really feel like he's avoiding the straight line for a purpose as opposed to being new at this.”

El Blog Que Falta En Sitges [Spanish] “Peculiar and endearing, The Search of Weng Weng is a nostalgic and passionate look at B cinema.”

Fake Shemp (Glenn Cochrane) “...well filmed, extensively researched and humorously told. It's also tragic and heartbreaking and all the while surprising… The film is wonderful.”

Film School Rejects (Rob Hunter) “...an engaging look at one man’s obsession and one nation’s brief dance in the cinematic spotlight, and it will most definitely appeal to genre fans and folks who thoroughly enjoyed the loving retrospective compilation, Machete Maidens Unleashed.”

Filmbuster(d)s [Italian] “Andrew Leavold is a lunatic, and anyone who knows him will confirm it.... a film buff at the last stage, one that if he met Tarantino it would make an interesting discussion that would last for years...”

Film Juice (Ed Boff) “This film comes highly recommended for casting light on a much-underrepresented tradition of films… The story of one actor is a gateway into the wild world of Filipino films, making for truly fascinating viewing with some great bonuses on the DVD to boot.” (4/5)

The Film Stage (Amanda Waltz) “Leavold accomplishes what he set out to do, an admirable feat considering the few resources at his disposal. More importantly, he succeeds in spurring a dialogue on Weng Weng’s role as a representation of the Filipino spirit, which, in the grand scheme of things, is more than any film scholar could possibly hope for.”

Flick Feast (Chris Binding) “a funny, honest and ultimately fascinating portrait of both the actor and an underrepresented film culture, with Leavold reaping boundless filmic treasures on his travels… perhaps director Leavold’s greatest achievement is re–situating this contextual understanding of Weng Weng from that of ‘court jester’ to one of the most important figures in Filipino film history. Bet you didn’t see that coming.” (9/10)

Forces Of Geek (Dean Galanis) "Perhaps a wee bit of trimming would have helped, but overall Leavold has made an involving and eye-opening doc."

FourThreeFilm (Brad Mariano) “...this is a film of snowballing ambition, of an Australian B-movie guru’s obsession that becomes a fascinating insight into Filipino film culture; a rabbit hole of discoveries that, quite literally, goes all the way to the top… this is exciting filmmaking with high entertainment and academic value.”

FrightFest (Richard Street) “Generously illustrated with clips and stills, The Search For Weng Weng is certainly not without interest, especially for fans of Filipino exploitation movies, though I'm not sure how much appeal it might have to someone who doesn't like trash cinema and/or has never actually heard of Weng Weng. What it never manages to do, however, is make me want to see any more of his films...”

From Beyond (Mikael Hammarberg) [Swedish] "It is not the prettiest or most creatively cut documentary, but the content is so strong that it does not matter that it has a fairly linear approach... I recommend the documentary to both the avid movie geek, but also to those who appreciate a good story about a person they probably had no idea that he even existed." (7/10)

Gentle Geek (El Nioco) [French] “Driven by the real affection and nostalgia of a man, the documentary portrays just an actor and melancholy become Proust's Madeleine for many followers of moviegoers curious movies, and stands as a rare wealth of information on the phenomenon of Philippine cinema. WE LOVE WENG WENG!”

Good Movies For Bad People podcast  "On this One Shot Review, Christian checks out the North American DVD release of The Search For Weng Weng (2014), a documentary that uncovers the life story of the 2 and 1/2 foot tall international man of mystery known only as Weng Weng."

Gruesome Magazine (Adam Thomas) "If you want to be introduced to an exciting world of film you may not know about, or simply want to learn about an unconventional action star who lived and breathed fun and entertainment like few others before him and since, then I cannot recommend The Story of Weng Weng enough. Trust me. Totally worth it." (4/5)

HK And Cult FilmNews (Porfle) “...isn't just a filmed biography, but also a detective story in which the director, obsessed with his subject, tracks him down as Holmes might track Moriarty. The result is a true story with equal shares of triumph and tragedy, and an opportunity to get to know this sweetly likable little man who made a big mark on the Filipino film industry while gaining fans all around the world.”

Horror Buzz (Brian Tull) "This one really blew me away, it’s a fantastically paced documentary... The combination of Leavold’s skill and cunning as a documentarian and Weng Weng’s undeniable charm and magnetism are a match made in heaven."

Horror Cult Films “For fans of B-movie and cult cinema, The Search For Weng Weng is a must-watch documentary.” (5/5)

Infernal Cinema (James Simpson) “Leavold’s documentary really is a labour of love, he genuinely loves these films and has affection for Weng Weng. His excitement and devotion is infectious as the viewer too will become caught up in the search for Weng Weng. When the feature ends the viewer will get the impression there is so much more that needs to be said. Hopefully a sequel of sorts could happen.”

I Reckon That (Margaret Wieringa) “Initially, I found the narration by Andrew Leavold to be annoying but as the film continued I warmed to him. By the time he ended up in the home of Imelda Marcos, celebrating her birthday, I was pleased he had put himself into the film as it added a layer of absurdity to the story. However, I felt it was about thirty minutes too long – the story had been told, and there was far more repetition than was needed. I do always like a documentary that introduces me to something new, though, and now I am most keen on seeing some of Weng Weng’s films for myself.”

JB Spins blog, and on the Libertas Film Magazine (Joe Bendel) “It will sound like a bit of cliché, but the journey is what is important in Search, rather than the ultimate destination. Along the way, Leavold tantalizes viewers with truly bizarre film clips, while treating his subject with scrupulous sensitivity. It is a tricky balance to maintain, but he pulls it off. The result is a big, entertaining valentine to B- movies that opens a strangely insightful window into the contemporary Philippines.” (A-)

LA Ciné Salon (Samuel B. Prime) “Ernesto's story is told with genuine curiosity and poetic sensitivity… Leavold's film is one of those rare branches of the documentary form that can unpretentiously call itself ‘personal essay’ as he as filmmaker is indivisible from the film and its subject.”

L'Eventail (Marcel Croës) [French] “He is here brought back to life thanks to a film which I would like to see projected in our cinemas, as I have no doubt that it would regale the B-grade aficionados.”

Les Nuits DuChasseur de Films [French] "...definitely bizarre, wildly hagiographic, and notwithstanding very instructive."

Media Critica (Philip Zoratti) [Italian]

Michael D's DVD Review (Ray Nyland) “The story Leavold pieces together is both extraordinary and tragic… an obvious labour of love for Leavold, one could say an obsession, which could have got out of hand. It nearly does, but instead the result is a fascinating documentary with a cast full of eccentric characters, including Imelda Marcos herself, who talk about the Filipino film industry and its highs and lows, all wrapped around the life and fate of one small actor.”

Monster Kid ClassicHorror Forum (John Harrison) “Highly recommended viewing for anyone interested in the history of exploitation and low-budget cinema, especially that particularly strange and eclectic brand known as Mondo Macabro (basically any weird or wonderful cinema from countries not known for their genre filmmaking).”

Movie Talk “Leavold’s journey to uncover the man behind the enigma is full of incredible characters, from the veteran stuntmen, editors and actors reminiscing in a shopping mall, to the 83-year-old former First Lady Imelda Marcos describing the actor as the embodiment of the Filipino spirit during her birthday celebrations. There are also some very poignant scenes: but none more so than when Leavold visits Weng Weng’s final resting place, in a city cemetery where entire families live amongst the graves.”

The Movie Waffler (Eric Hillis) “In a year that's given us documentaries on the career of Brian De Palma, Truffaut's famous Hitchcock interviews and the coercion of a South Korean filmmaker and actress into shooting propaganda movies for their Northern neighbour, all are beaten into second place by an exploration of the career of one of cinema's unique stars, Filipino action star Weng Weng.”

NEO Magazine (Calum Waddell) “Weng Weng’s story does not quite sustain the running time of this documentary – whilst an unwise attempt to glorify the Marcos administration as champions of the arts (at the expense of human rights?) leaves a sour taste.”

Nerdly (Mondo Squallido) “...a wonderful experience... A personal piece of filmmaking that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the cult film documentaries that are out there!”

Movie City News (Gary Dertzka) “Fans of exploitation flicks will savor The Search For Weng Weng not only for its portrait of the artist as a small man, but also for Leavold’s exploration of the country’s cinematic history.”

Ninja Dixon (Fred Anderson) “It’s so much details and stuff and twists and love in The Search of Weng Weng… it’s almost a supernatural experience going through the rise and fall of Weng Weng and finally see him for what he really was, not just like a very, very short guy on the silver screen.”

OnafhankelijkFilmmagazine's Inde Bioscoop (George Vermij) [Dutch] “This at times conventional documentary is a beautiful tribute to an obscure footnote of cinema that shows how fame can be fleeting. But despite the volatility, certain films are inexplicably timeless.”

On Rembobine (Gilles Rolland) [French] “This look of melancholy which seems to shine permanently in the eye of Weng Weng does not detract from the sympathy it releases nor from the strength of the documentary which seeks above all to rehabilitate the story of a man who deserves more... If the story is sad enough, the director's intention is praiseworthy and makes it possible to remember Weng Weng and his films... a simple and generous actor. A hero of modern-day dandruff.”

The Outre Eye OfDaniel XIII “...a heartfelt and beautifully crafted tribute to a true icon of our beloved exploitation genre!”

Pappa Alskar (Anders Fletcher) [Swedish] “The greatest triumph of the documentary is that it not only has opened my and many others' eyes for the little guy, but Filipino film greatness. The Search for Weng Weng is a beautiful, sometimes sad but informative and inspiring tribute to Weng Weng and Filipino film and film culture. It is a passion project without equal and a must for those who have an interest in film history.”

PJ Shadow (Peter Jetnikoff) “...between the exploitation of presenting the clips, the obscured interviews, and the genuineness somewhere in the cracks of what's left I felt mostly that I was being asked to indulge the filmmakers. Look at us! We've made something worthy AND entertaining! ...Is it personal? Sure but what if you don't like the person (and I don't mean Weng Weng)?”

Pop Culture Beast (Michael Doherty) “The subject is clearly a passion of the filmmaker’s, and as a result this is an enjoyable movie.”

Radio Times (Jamie Healy) “Andrew Leavold embarks on a big search for one of the world's smallest film stars in this enjoyably offbeat documentary… The director intersperses the film with badly dubbed clips from Weng Weng's cheesy movies, but he also shows a lot of affection and respect for his subject, and his enthusiasm ultimately proves to be infectious.” (4/5)

The Reprobate (David Flint) “This tale of unlikely stardom, exploitation (in all senses) and localised cinema eccentricity is told in an entertaining, well humoured manner by Leavold, who is both narrator and on-screen investigator in this story… He's not here to mock Weng Weng, but neither is there that sense of condescending false respect that many a documentary covering 'unusual' people engages in… In the end, The Search for Weng Weng is more the search for the lost cinema history of the Philippines… another is a growing list of excellent documentaries covering previously forgotten, localised film genres.”

Rock! Shock! Pop! (Ian Jane) "...as moving as it is fascinating as it is frequently hilarious. Leavold’s love for the subject matter comes through in a big way and it’s hard not to come away from this with an appreciation for Weng Weng’s struggles and successes."

Row Three (Kurt Halfyard) “Leavold’s research contributed to Mark Hartley’s film in enough capacity to get him an Assosiate Producer credit on the 2009 documentary. But his own movie is a more intimate affair. Covering the life and legend of Weng Weng is more introspective, trashophile soul-searching and laced with a melancholy upon discovering various truths and circumstances in the young actor’s strange, wild and short life.”

San Diego Asian Film Festival blog “What’s really captivating about Weng Weng’s story is its unpredictability: you really don’t know what’s about to be uncovered next… The film becomes more than a search for the miniature actor. It sums up all of the reasons that keep us going to the movies: adventure, curiosity, change, and yes, even midget Filipino versions of James Bond, if that’s your thing.”

[re]Search my Trash (Mike Haberfelner) “...this is a movie as entertaining for the B-movie afficionado as it is informative for the film scholar with a predilection for the obscure - and for all those who are just into Weng Weng, this movie offers such a wealth of information compiled nowhere before.”

Senses Of Cinema (Chris Berry) “If it comes anywhere near you, do not miss Andrew Leavold’s Searching for Weng Weng… To his credit, Leavold adds depth to what could otherwise have been a sensationalist piece by including interviews with Filipino critics who speak about their discomfort at the Western world’s fascination with Weng Weng and what it says about their imagination of the Philippines.”

Shameless Pile Of Stuff ‘The documentary tells Weng Weng's story that is quite tragic but also warm and delightful. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and so it was also in the Filipino movie industry.”
 
Sight And Sound (Anton Bitel) “...while Leavold’s question to Imelda Marcos might at first seem surreal, in fact it cuts to the very heart of his documentary. Overlapping to a degree with Mark Hartley’s Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010), Leavold’s quest to uncover the man behind the legend becomes an affectionate if bittersweet history of Filipino exploitation cinema – and, of course, stars like Weng Weng were the most exploited of all, by money-grabbing producers, by rubbernecking viewers and even by heads of state.”

Spoiler Free MovieSleuth (Liam S. O’Connor) “...one of the more comprehensive and engaging documentaries I have seen about cult cinema and b-movies in sometime… 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… This was a clear labor of love and it feels like it.”

Spot Philippines (Oggs Cruz) “...a film that reveals as much of being Filipino as the life and demise of Weng Weng… The most amazing thing about The Search for Weng Weng was how it told a very Filipino story, one that is so familiar since it ponders on exploitation, missed opportunities, fortune and tragedy within show-business, but from foreign eyes… Leavold has created a masterpiece out of an obsession.”

Starburst (Martin Unsworth) “...not only executes its task admirably, it exceeds by becoming a compelling, thought provoking, and ultimately touching look at the cultural traditions of a country not widely recognised for its cinema. Told with great humour, but never degrading nor mocking... it succeeds in shedding light on its subject and treating Weng Weng with respect and great compassion.”

Starburst (Jack Bottomley) “...takes what many would call garbage and delves into it to find something rather poignant and rather fresh. This documentary is not merely a jokey look at a gimmicky intercontinental star but is a glaring assessment of prejudices, fame and exploitation… a must-see example of underground documentary filmmaking and hard work paying off!”

Syowing (Reymundo Salaoblog) “...this documentary is very rich; ‘eye-opener’ is a term that I could not stop describing it. It tells the tale of how exploits and exploitation comes together. The fantasy and illusion of a superstar, the debt of utang-na-loob, the facade of a family (in the guise of the greedy producers) that abuses its children, the irony of art, and the much greater irony that it took a couple of Australians who cared to snap us out of our daily lives and make us remember this great little guy who needed to be put on the map and the history of Philippine cinema and international cult cinema.”

TemptAsian Film and Anime (Craig Nixon) “What an incredible documentary! Definitely one of the best I have seen for years.”

Thai Film Journal (Wise Kwai) “Wearing an actual pith helmet like he's on an archaeological dig, cult-video purveyor/filmmaker Andrew Leavold descends into the heart of darkness in his obsessive quest to untangle the shrouds of myth from bleak reality… Running just over 90 minutes, The Search for Weng Weng has a running time that belies the epic story of its making, which took eight years and cost Leavold mortages on his Brisbane video shop and brought him to kickstart the Kickstarter era in self-funded indie filmmaking. Such dedication definitely makes Weng Weng a doc you should order.” (5/5)

Toppraffel! (Pidde Andersson) [Swedish] “It is a strange and fascinating journey… This is not just a film about Weng Weng’s pretty tragic life and career, there is as much about the Filipino film industry - and particularly B-movie industry in the 1970s and 80s.”

Toxic Graveyard "This documentary is truly a preservation of unique information that could have only been unearthed by going to the source. It’s a bold move for director Andrew Leavold and we’re all the better for it."

Trash-o-Meter (Commodore Schmidlabb) “On the occasion of the German premiere of the film at the Berlin Z-inema I had the opportunity to chat with Leavold and can confidently say that I have never met in my life a bigger movie freak. His knowledge of (trash) film can only be described as profound... Leavold’s presence but is not a requirement to be able to enjoy The Search for Weng Weng. His enthusiasm for trash film in general and in particular Weng Weng carries over to the audience.”

UK Horror Scene (James Pemberton) “Leavold has crafted an interesting documentary here, which as well as looking at the life of a unique actor, also takes a look at the eventual downside of fame and the inevitable sad lonely end it can have for some… A unique and often interesting documentary looking at one man’s obsession with some of the world’s most unique and bizarre cinema, The Search For Weng Weng is definitely worth a watch and one that will reward you with repeat viewings.” (7/10)

Unification France (Isabelle Arnaud) [French] “... another extraordinary documentary. The search for the life of a Filipino dwarf actor. Interesting, funny and full of humanity. Now I can also say it: I love Weng Weng.”
 
Unseen Films “What makes this film so good is that despite being about the search for one man, the film encompasses so much more, the film is a cultural history of the Philippines and of the film industry… Think of the film as a perfect companion to Machete Maidens Unleashed since it takes a look at things from a personal level. A must see for any film lover who truly loves film.”

Variety (Dennis Harvey) "A surprisingly far-reaching investigation into the life of a forgotten icon of Pinoy exploitation cinema… This entertaining, good-humored yet respectful homage to a unique exploitation-film figure has been picking up fans on the festival circuit for some time (beginning in 2007 as a work -in-progress), and could parlay that attention into some limited theatrical exposure.”

Voir Montreal (Joseph Elfassi) [French]

Wicked Channel (James D) “Is this really a documentary, or is this an actor trying to fool me into believing it is? That is the feeling I left The Search for Weng Weng with… I am still confused as to what I should call this film. I will play stupid and say this is a documentary, but I just cannot feel, there is more to this film than what we got. That there is a hidden story underneath it all. That being said, I will watch it again with the Leavold commentary to see if he sheds light on this. This is the case of a very odd magic trick. I feel I saw what the right hand did, while the left one was trying to amaze me.” (8/10)

Yes! Weekly (Mark Burger) DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: "Deliriously entertaining at times, The Search for Weng Weng is tinged with tragic overtones, as the collapse of the Filipino film industry paralleled the collapse of Weng Weng’s career, leaving him impoverished and all but forgotten. Thanks to Leavold’s film, this cult star’s unique legacy has been celebrated in first-rate fashion."  ***½

Zuti Titl (Velimir Grgic) [Croatian] “...although a bit wordy, a fascinating insight not only into a crazy life and incredible career of cult icons of VHS, but also the golden age of Philippine cinema as well as a burst of crazy knowledge and adventure… Madness!

No comments: