The Paper Tigers is one of those movies that, after watching it, you think, “that was a really good idea”. And it is, The Paper Tigers has a great premise, it’s just a shame about the implementation.
Danny, Alain Uy (“True Detective (TV)”, “The Passage (TV)”), Jim, Mykel Shannon Jenkins (“The Chain”, “Two Wolves”) and Hing, Ron Yuan (“Mulan”, “Siren (TV)”), are three kung fu prodigies of Sifu Cheung, Roger Yuan (“Mulan”, “Skyfall”).
At least, they used to be. Now they are just three older guys, shuffling about in life, literally for Hing as he has a bad leg. Danny is a divorced dad trying to keep on the good side of his wife to keep seeing his son.
Only Jim has kept up with any form of martial arts, but is more an MMA type fighter these days. Also, Jim and Danny haven’t spoken to each for quite some time.
The three are brought together by the death of their master, Sifu Cheung. They return to their former school to find that Carter, Matthew Page (“The Space Between Us”, “Waco (TV)”), the kid they used to regularly defeat, now in charge.
He wants some revenge and sends the trio on a wild goose chase to see who killed their former master, as well as getting some revenge himself.
I won’t spoil exactly what is going down in the movie, you’ll figure that out for yourself, but the trio must, in their own ways, find their path back to martial arts and defeat those in their way.
Writer and director Quoc Bao Tran (“The Challenger (Short)”, “Bookie (Short)”) apparently originally took the script to a major studio who wanted Bruce Willis and Nicolas Cage to front it, now there’s a movie to see.
However, Tran wasn’t to be swayed as his main protagonist was always an Asian-American. So, he did what anyone looking for money does these days, he took to Kickstarter.
The result is a somewhat mishmash of a movie. It’s overly long, coming in at nearly two hours and is billed as an ‘action comedy’, but sadly lacks on both fronts.
Yes, there are fight scenes, but don’t expect anything you haven’t seen before. They aren’t quick, they aren’t brutal, more family friendly and slow, which is a shame.
The movie is light on the laughs too, which is perhaps more of a shame. The jokes are there, they are just fall flat and are obvious, as is the majority of the film.
However, it’s not all bad, what Tran has done with a relatively meagre budget is very good and, and it’s a big green tick and, he films the action stepped back. There’s no shaky-cam here, you actually see the fights, the punches, the kicks, not missing them because you are zoomed in to nth degree.
I wanted The Paper Tigers to be much better than it is. It’s overly long and short on laughs and action. But it does have a lot of heart and is well put together, particularly for the budget.