April 26, 2020 (NYC)– The Paper Tigers is a winner! When I heard that the film’s Writer and Director, Quoc Boa Tran, opted to take The Paper Tigers off the Hollywood studio track and produce this martial arts movie project using the Crowd-Funding route I became very curious. Before seeing the film I had very low expectations for it. I presumed that while the story was interesting, that the film would play out as a low budget, well intentioned, poorly executed project. Nothing could be further from the truth. This film is a testament to the creative vision of its creator and the clear “buy in” of the cast and crew. This is one of the best films I have seen in years.
The story is simple-“Three childhood kung fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men—now one kick away from pulling their hamstrings. But when their master is murdered, they must juggle their dead-end jobs, dad duties, and overcome old grudges to avenge his death.” The strength of this movie rests not in the story, but in its execution. The acting, the dialogue, the fight choreography, and the cinematography all come together for a memorable and enjoyable movie experience.
Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, and Mykel Shannon Jenkins have a natural chemistry to their interplay that really works. Each of the actors brings heart and humor to their respective roles. Together there is a synergistic effect that is more than the sum of the individual parts of any one actor. The characters are flawed, but genuinely likeable human beings. Unlike many martial arts films, these characters are not caricatures but relatable men struggling with aging and life issues. They are also not conventional martial arts action heroes, but believable in their roles, and that is part of the charm.
Matthew Page, known to many as YouTube sensation, Master Ken, shines in his role as Carter, the benign nemesis of the Paper Tigers. He is witty, awkward, and, clearly, in on the joke. His scenes are very memorable.
While the film is a story about aging, family, and fraternity it is still a martial arts film and the film contains its share of martial arts action. The fight choreography is very good. What I enjoyed the most was that the fight choreography was in step with the theme of the characters’ aging struggles. As a middle aged martial artist I could empathize with the challenges the main characters’ faced. You feel the actors’ pain, even before they threw their first punch.
The film is very well scripted. It is quite humorous at times. Poignant at others. The consistent theme, “Kung Fu without Honor is Just Fighting” is something most Taekwondo-ists and traditional martial artists can relate to, regardless of style. We are also a martial art deeply steeped in tradition and respect. Taekwondo practitioners won’t need to know much about Kung-Fu to relate to the practitioners and masters in this remarkable film.
The Paper Tigers will be in theaters and on VOD May 7, 2021. I highly recommend it. This movie will make you feel good and warm your heart. I look forward to seeing it again!
The Paper Tigers is a Winner!
-Review by Marc Zirogiannis
Hear our review of The Paper Tigers on Our Weekly Podcast:
As teenagers, kung fu disciples Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) were inseparable. Fast forward 25 years, and each has grown into a washed-up middle-aged man seemingly one kick away from pulling a hamstring—and not at all preoccupied with thoughts of martial arts or childhood best friends. But when their old master is murdered, the trio reunites, soon learning that avenging their sifu will require conquering old grudges (and a dangerous hitman still armed with ample knee cartilage) if they are to honorably defend his legacy
Run Time: 108 minutes
|Directed by||Quoc Bao Tran|
|Produced by||Al’n Duong
Quoc Bao Tran
|Written by||Quoc Bao Tran|
|Starring||Alain Uy as Danny
Jae Suh Park as Caryn
Joziah Lagonoy as Ed
Roger Yuan as Sifu Cheung
La’tevin Alexander as Ray
Matthew Page as Carter
Yuji Okumoto as Wing
|Music by||Daniel L.K. Caldwell|
|Edited by||Kris Kristensen|
Persistence of Vision Films
|Distributed by||Well Go USA Entertainment|
*Presented by Bet Online