Monday, May 3, 2021

The Paper Tigers Review: A Middle Age Martial Arts Comedy Knock Out

Peter Adrian Sudarso	...	Teen Hing Yuji Okumoto	Yuji Okumoto	...	Wing Ron Yuan	Ron Yuan	...	Hing Yoshi Sudarso	Yoshi Sudarso	...	Teen Danny Jae Suh Park	Jae Suh Park	...	Caryn Matthew Page	Matthew Page	...	Carter Alain Uy	Alain Uy	...	Danny Roger Yuan	Roger Yuan	...	Sifu Cheung Mykel Shannon Jenkins	Mykel Shannon Jenkins	...	Jim Gui DaSilva-Greene	Gui DaSilva-Greene	...	Teen Jim La'Tevin Alexander	La'Tevin Alexander	...	Ray Raymond Ma	Raymond Ma	...	Sifu Wong Andy Le	Andy Le	...	Fu Brian Le	Brian Le	...	Boi Annette Toutonghi	Annette Toutonghi	...	Minnie Ray Hopper	Ray Hopper	...	Tommy Kieran Tamondong	Kieran Tamondong	...	Young Danny Joziah Lagonoy	Joziah Lagonoy	...	Ed Phillip Dang	Phillip Dang	...	Chief

Release date: May 7, 2021
Running time: 108 minutes
Written and Directed by: Tran Quoc Bao
Starring: Alain Uy (True Detective), Ron Yuan (Mulan), Mykel Shannon Jenkins (Undisputed III), Matthew Page ("Enter the Dojo" - Master Ken), Andy Le (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Yuji Okumoto ("Cobra Kai" & Karate Kid II)

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.

Ken Quitugua	...	Zhen Fan Mark Poletti	Mark Poletti	...	Teen Carter Tee Dennard	Tee Dennard	...	Booker Bryan Kinder	Bryan Kinder	...	Young Hing Richard Cranor	Richard Cranor	...	Kickboxer Malakai James	Malakai James	...	Young Jim Mai Nguyen	Mai Nguyen	...	Park Goer Quang Nguyen	Quang Nguyen	...	Sexy Cyclist Thao-Nguyen Tran	Thao-Nguyen Tran	...	Park Goer Tai Tran	Tai Tran	...	Park Goer Leo Banaag	Leo Banaag	...	Park Goer
The Paper Tigers starts off perfectly, with VHS home movies that are filled with character and 80s style.  The trio are shown in their martial arts prime, with the confidence and invincibility of youth.  It really gives you a vision of this trio and their tight bond growing up.  The VHS videos set the tone perfectly, as does the amazing 80s music that gets your blood flowing.  And then when it fast forwards to them not in their prime, the film shows its comedic roots.  Boisterous youths go to middle aged adults just over the hill.  And the concerns they have, especially those of Danny who is juggling a job, a kid, and a crumbling marriage, feel like those of any normal adult.  It is illuminating to see the person that he became versus the person he thought he would be.

But what The Paper Tigers has in spades is comedy and heart.  The movie is just funny.  The camaraderie between the trio in their youth and as adults is palatable and shows on screen.  The disciples have built up anger, love, and a shared knowledge that is instantly infectious.  And the over the top style has some call backs to old school martial arts movies, but with an added dry comedic style.  The movie riffs on fighting, on grudges, and on age equally well, making a melting pot of comedic gold.  And despite these character's ages, the kung fu action is exciting and enjoyable.  They are definitely not in their prime, but they still are fun to see when they let loose.

The story of this movie is long, but I didn't mind it at all.  There are a few fight scenes that seem a little drawn out, but it's a martial arts comedy movie so I can't begrudge the film for lingering on martial arts action.  And some of the fights use stylish cuts to slow down the action, which lets you get in the heads of the fighters but also makes for some action that is less frantic than I was hoping.  And a minor point, but the young characters in the VHS videos look nothing like their older counterparts, including some of their height.  But The Paper Tigers has a unique tone, great characters, and more heart than your average martial arts movie.  And it occupies a unique space that skirts the line between following your dreams and the realities of life.  

Paper Tigers will knock you out with its wonderful comedic style, over the top and over the hill characters, and the amazing camaraderie and heart of the main trio.

Watch it.

Todd Brown	...	executive producer Gildas Cheung	...	executive producer Al'n Duong	...	producer Eliza Flug	...	executive producer Dan Gildark	...	producer Andrew Jiang	...	executive producer Collin Manaois	...	executive producer Andrew Nevils	...	executive producer Yuji Okumoto	...	producer Christine Lee Risinger	...	executive producer Nick Risinger	...	executive producer Ninnette Robare	...	line producer: additional photography Hieu Tran	...	executive producer Mark Tran	...	executive producer Quoc Bao Tran	...	producer Arsenio Valdez Jr.	...	executive producer Michael Velasquez	...	producer Jennifer Wang	...	executive producer Kevin Woo	...	executive producer Derek Xu	...	executive producer Ann Yu	...	executive producer Ron Yuan	...	co-producer   Directed by  Quoc Bao Tran	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Quoc Bao Tran

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The Paper Tigers will be released in theaters and on demand on May 7, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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