The Paper Tigers is a different kind of martial arts comedy. Much like Stephen Chow, director Bao Tran’s movie has a laugh with the genre instead of poking fun at it. Along with being funny, the movie will provide a heartwarming story and some great characters. But with all the attention on the writing, does it deliver the right amount of action?
Three former kung fu students (the titular group) hear about the murder of their former master. There is only one thing to do. As expected, they all agree they must seek vengeance. The difference in The Paper Tigers (making its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival) is these great martial artists are all normal middle aged men.
The characters are very well developed. The Paper Tigers fit into the suburban world the movie takes place in. For example, Danny is fighting with his ex wife over custody of their son. All the while, work takes him away from his child whenever he wants to spend quality time with him. It is not the most original background, but it also is not one visited often in the genre. There already is more to the character than “martial arts bad ass”.
The Paper Tigers is also very funny. The opening montages seems to hint at what the audience is going to see. Plenty of sight gags that primarily rely on old kung fu movies. The script is not about developing comedy but laughing at a once popular genre.
While the film does have some laughs at the expense of martial arts movies, it does not rely solely on them for its humor. There is a genuine comedy to The Paper Tigers that makes the story that much more enjoyable. From physical comedy to pure wit, the movie is filled with laugh out loud moments.
For fans of martial arts, there is also plenty of great fight scenes. This is not a comedy that is thinly veiled as a kung fu movie. Choreography is very important for any action movie, and The Paper Tigers is no different. While the action moves at a more methodical pace than a typical Shaw Brothers film, it still is very entertaining.
The Paper Tigers is a rare martial arts comedy. There have been kung fu movies that have injected laughs into their storytelling, but not counting spoofs, the action has always taken a premium. Characters are also much deeper than are usually seen in the genre. Thanks to some skillful writing, the movie will appeal to a wide audience.