At 2-foot, 9-inches, he was the shortest-ever lead actor in a leading role and small enough to have slipped between the cracks of film history if not for Australian cult video store owner Andrew Leavold, who spent seven years rifling through 30 years of Filipino pop culture to document the brief fame and eventual downfall of the Philippines’ most famous export, the enigmatic Weng Weng. In doing so, Leavold fashions a poignant cautionary tale about the fickle nature of fame.
Born Ernesto de la Cruz (September 7, 1957), the martial-arts trained actor is best known for appearing in a series of James Bond spoofs, beginning with 1981’s For Y’ur Height Only, in which he played the pint-sized secret agent 00. But his fame was short-lived. He died, aged just 34, on August 29 1992, following a heart attack.
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 Monster Pictures two-disc DVD includes an audio commentary, extended and deleted scenes, an interview with stunt man Eddie Nicart, a Q&A session, I Love Weng Weng music video, image gallery and the 1982 D’Wild Wild Weng (which looks just like the YouTube one).