‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Did Hu Bring Tom Back To Life?


The Tiger’s Apprentice is based on a novel written by Laurence Yep, and it is centered around a teenager named Thomas Lee, aka Tom, who was just not ready to accept the fact that he was special and different from the rest of his classmates. Tom had powers, but he was in denial for the longest time. But now the time had come when his grandmother was going to have that big conversation with him and make him aware of his destiny. So, let’s find out what happened to Tom, if he was able to make peace with his reality, and if he was able to save humanity.

Spoiler Alert

What was Tom destined to be?

At the beginning of The Tiger’s Apprentice, we saw that Mrs. Lee’s car was being chased by ghost-like creatures called the Yaoguai. They wanted to stop Mrs. Lee and take the locket that she was wearing. The locket was called the Phoenix, and it was special because it had magical powers in it. The goddess Nu Kua used it to create humanity, and now the dark forces wanted it to destroy everything. That night, the warriors of the circle of twelve came to Mrs. Lee’s rescue, and somehow, they managed to save her and her grandson from the evil Loo. The narrative moved 15 years ahead in time, and Mrs. Lee’s grandson, Tom, was now a teenager. Tom knew that the entire high school used to call him names, and they bullied him by saying that his grandmother was a witch. Tom knew that his grandmother wasn’t like others, and she did weird things like hanging wind charms and doing strange rituals. But he loved her, and he hoped that one day she would give up all her weird practices and live like a normal human. Tom had no clue what future had in store for him. He came from a family of Guardians, people who had protected the Phoenix for a thousand years. His grandmother was waiting for the opportune moment to tell him that. She knew that a time would come when Tom would realize who he really was, but at that moment, he was in denial, and he was just not ready to accept the fact that he wasn’t normal like his peers.

Tom had a fight at his school, and he ended up doing something that surprised him, too. He pushed the bully, and that boy floated in the air and hit the ceiling. Tom knew that he had powers, but it was too bizarre for him to accept that fact. That day he came back home, he met Hu, who came to tell Mrs. Lee that it was about time she revealed to him what he was destined to do. But before Mrs. Lee could tell him anything, Loo, her adversary, attacked her house, as Tom had earlier taken down all the chimes that provided a protective shield. Loo killed Mrs. Lee that night, but Mrs. Lee managed to hand over her Phoenix locket to Tom. Tom’s life changed overnight, and he wasn’t able to process anything. Hu, who shapeshifted as a tiger, took him in his care and helped him make peace with the fact that he had powers and a purpose to accomplish in life.

How did Mrs. Lee’s death change Tom?

Tom was trained by Hu, who knew that unless and until the former accepted who he really was, he wouldn’t be able to harness his full potential. Hu told Tom that the locker was of utmost importance and that Loo would wreak havoc if she got it. The first time Tom came face-to-face with Loo was when he went alone to a castle and found out that Loo was Rav’s foster mother. A deadly battle ensued, and Loo, making use of her magical powers, trapped a lot of warriors in her umbrella. Tom realized what was at stake, and he didn’t know if he was even capable of doing what others wanted him to. Things were not right between Tom and Hu, and both had a lot of ego tussles and arguments. Hu was sick and tired of making Tom understand who he was, and Tom, on the other hand, believed that Hu was too hard on him at times. Tom wanted to avenge the death of his grandmother, but his heart and mind were not in sync. The belief that he could do it was lacking within him. Hu knew that, unless and until Tom was convinced, they would end up on the losing side. The evil was growing stronger every day, and they needed to protect the Phoenix to save humanity from perishing.

Was Tom able to defeat Loo?

Loo, in The Tiger’s Apprentice, was finally able to take the Phoenix from Tom’s save, and the latter felt really guilty after letting everybody down. He knew how much was at stake, and he had no clue if he would ever get a chance to redeem himself. But Tom did get a chance, and finally, he could feel himself connected to the Phoenix. He could sense it where it was and he was able to locate it using his psychic powers. Hu was taken into captivity during the fight, but his apprentices soon made sure that the entire army that was being held in that blue umbrella was freed. Tom could see the Phoenix, and he realized that he didn’t have to fight Loo to get it. He held the stone firmly in his hand and healed the phoenix that had turned all black due to all the hate that Loo filled it with. The Phoenix responded to its master, and it became what its master wanted it to be. Loo made it into a weapon to end humanity, while Tom made it an elixir from which all good things were born. At the end of The Tiger’s Apprentice, Tom was able to defeat Loo, and he also took back the phoenix stone, making sure that her army of demons rotted in hell.

How did Hu bring Tom back to life?

During The Tiger’s Apprentice‘s ending, Tom finally tasted victory, but the happiness was short-lived as he fell from the building and died. Hu was not ready to accept that, and he pleaded with the goddess Nu Hua to merge their souls so that he had a chance to bring Tom back to life. A similar thing had happened in the past when Hu gave his life trying to protect Mr. Lee and Tom. At that time, Mrs. Lee had merged her soul with him and brought him back to life, so it could be said that he carried a little of Mrs. Lee inside him. The goddess told Hu that there was a possibility that both of them would die, but he was ready to take the risk. Tom was brought back to life, and Hu gave him the keys to his shop, as he didn’t have a place to stay. Tom realized how Hu had been his guardian angel and how he was always there to protect him. Hu had turned white because of the merging of his soul with Tom, but then it was all worth it as now Tom considered him his family, and together they took a vow to fight evil and protect their world. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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