Often while growing up we become distant from the very people with whom we connected and related once, in our life. Ironically, no one is at fault in such a case. As we grow, our preferences change, our priorities change, and the connection we shared once, no longer ceases to matter. But the film The Paper Tigers stresses the fact that no matter how hard your life is or how much you are burdened with responsibilities, the feeling you nourish in your heart, shall thrive. Whether it’s your Friends, Love, or your Kung-Fu Values.
The Paper Tigers is a tale of friendship between three Kung-Fu prodigies who trained under the same master. The film is a hilarious take on events yet it delivers an important message. It marks the directorial debut of filmmaker Quoc Bao Tran.
‘The Paper Tigers’ Summary
Sifu Cheung was a Kung-Fu (Gung Fu) master who trained only three disciples all his life namely, Dai-Si Hang “Danny” (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan), and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins). These three child prodigies were best in their game and were often labeled as The Three Tigers. In 1993, a tournament created a rift between young Danny and Jim after which the group separated and none of them ever saw Sifu again.
In the present time, Danny is a washed-up middle-aged man who works in Insurance while balancing his father’s duty and an ongoing divorce. Danny is far from being what one might consider a fighter. His old pal, Hing arrives and delivers him the bad news i.e. Sifu is dead.
Danny and Hing attend Sifu’s funeral where three rookie kids proclaim themselves as the last disciples of Sifu Cheung. With their actions, they spoil the values of Sifu. Carter (Matthew Page), Danny’s competitor and principal of Kung-Fu school suspects that the death of Sifu Cheung wasn’t natural and these three rookie kids have something to do with it.
After a bit of hesitation, Danny and Hing try to investigate but their bodies are too old and weary to do so. Hing suggests that inviting Jim to deal with these shady kids would be a good idea. The approach ignites the rivalry of the past between Danny and Jim but they decide to put their grudges aside and investigate Sifu’s death.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘The Paper Tigers’ Ending Explained
The three shady kids were just buzzing around for the spotlight. Danny is convinced at last that Sifu died of a natural heart attack and never had any disciples other than the original three tigers. But his adversary, Carter reveals to the group that there was a fourth disciple that they aren’t aware of. Carter narrates his own encounter with the dubious figure who fought against all masters of Kung-Fu and thrashed them mercilessly. Sifu figured out his mistake training this questionable man and he decided to take back Kung-fu from him. The information links the man to Sifu’s death and the three tigers decide not to let their master die in vain.
The trio follows the fourth disciple through an underground dungeon to a grand hotel where he secretly assassinated a man using Sifu’s most prestigious technique, “Poison Fingers.” The technique inflicts a heart attack on anyone it is used, killing him later. Danny recognizes the technique instantly and the trio decides to face the assassin but they aren’t a match for his muscles and powers.
Danny punks off like the way he punked off from a fight during a tournament in 1993. Danny’s fear was the reason, Jim and Danny separated. In the meantime, Hing decides to face the hitman himself but he gets mercilessly thrashed. To preserve Sifu’s teachings and take revenge for his friend, Danny decides to fight the assassin.
Carter cherishes his endeavor as,
“When a man’s virtue exceeds his talent, he becomes the superior man.”
Danny’s eight-hands technique, has the power to slow time through his breathing. He uses the technique against the salient assassin and defeats him, leaving him pinned to the ground.
In the end, Danny opens a streaming channel to teach Kung-Fu to the world and brings back Sifu’s ashes to his garden to bless him in his endeavor. Jim indicates that Danny has become famous through his act. Hang, on the other hand, gets well and uses his knowledge of medicine to treat old people, like Sifu wanted him to (help the weak).
The Paper Tigers is much more than just a hilarious ride. The film thematically explores the efforts of building friendships between drifted friends. At its core, the film offers its protagonist a second chance to redeem himself. The climax is extremely likable though the journey is a bit frail.
The film has its dull moments and comedy is hit-and-miss. At times, it feels like an old Jackie Chan film, but just boring. The character of Carter brings humor and spark to scenes and his fortune cookie quotes are admirable. However, the three protagonists and their journey fail to generate interest.
For some motivation and Kung-Fu values, the film is tolerable and at moments enjoyable.
The Paper Tigers is a 2021 comedy action film directed by Quoc Bao Tran. The film is available for Video On Demand.
For more Quality Content, Do visit Digital Mafia Talkies | DMT