There’s a serious amount of fun to be had with Tran Quoc Bao’s The Paper Tigers. The writer/director/editor delivers a hugely energetic and entertaining comedy which is a joy to watch from beginning to end. The film transcends its low budget origins and manages to stand toe-to-toe with comedies with five times the budget.
Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) are three middle-aged friends who reconnect after 15 years in an attempt to discover who killed their former Master (Roger Yuan). The men were great Kung Fu stars in their youth, but they’re now well past their prime and finding it tough to get their edge back. Can they balance family commitments, injuries and overcome their disagreements to find the culprit?
The Paper Tigers feels like the kind of movie that Disney would have released under its Touchstone Pictures or Hollywood Pictures banners in the 1990s. It’s a feel good comedy with a lot of heart and plenty of brilliantly choreographed action from Ken Quitugua. Credit must also go to composer Daniel L.K. Caldwell for his colourful score and Shan Mayer’s crisp cinematography.
Bao has a mastery of the film’s tone and the three leads show some great chemistry as the bickering pals and you really believe they have a shared and complex history. Matthew Page also does good work as their long-suffering would-be nemesis. Everyone delivers.
The perfect antidote to the ills of 2020, Movies In Focus can’t recommend The Paper Tigers enough.