After struggling for a long time to get his debut film made, director/screenwriter Bao Tran can walk away with a sense of statisfaction. While this is in no way a perfect film, it is one which is an enjoyable and easy watch, which is, for an action/comedy, high praise.
Time possesses that magical quality of changing things. For instance, if you were once a kung fu prodigy things like time, marriage, age, and family might wear away that fighting edge. As teenagers Jim (Gui DaSilva-Greene – Step Up All In), Hing (Peter Adrian Sudarso – from television’s Power Rangers Ninja Steel) and Danny (Yoshi Sudarso – from television’s Power Rangers Dino Charge) were all about kung fu and their master, Sifu Chung (Roger Yuan – Shanghai Noon, Skyfall). Time and life has changed that and the three have drifted apart from their Sifu and each other.
What brings them back together is the death of Sifu. All now middle aged, Hing (Ron Yuan – Mulan – 2020, Independence Day: Resurgence), who has put on a bit of weight and has a busted up knee, finds Danny (Alain Uy – from television’s True Detective), who is divorced with one son, and then they get Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins – Double Jeopardy, Undisputed III: Redemption), who teaches jiu jitsu at a small gym. The three are going to attend Sifu’s memorial service.
There they find out that Sifu did not have a heart attack, but was probably killed. That old devotion to their master kicks in and despite being seriously out of fighting shape the three vow to find out who is behind Sifu’s death.
Some might think that calling a film a crowd pleaser is a bad thing. It isn’t! Who doesn’t want to have fun at the cinema? Not all films have to be a staid period piece with loads of anguish and serious dialogue. That is exactly the type of film which The Paper Tigers is. Only the most curmudgeony types won’t enjoy it.
Though the three guys started off as kung fu prodigies life, as it often does, gets in the way. The three characters here are not exactly winners. They are just average guys. Which is why you end up cheering for them. As totally relatable it makes the characters not one of your typical hard edged martial arts experts. Still, like many of us, part of their youth lives inside of them.
Nothing too complex here. A simple story, but not in a bad way. Throw in a couple a really likable actors, some cool kung fu fights and a bunch of laughs and you get a fun watch.