The Paper Tigers (2020) [Fantasia Fest 2020]

Having grown up as kung fu experts, three men face the fact that they are aging and not in their prime anymore when their Sifu passes away and they have to make sure his memory is respected.

Written and directed by Quoc Bao Tran, The Paper Tigers deals with many themes most will see with aging, like losing some capacities, not being top shape physically and mentally anymore, legacy, family, and what really matters in life. This drama with action sequences as well as some comedy is a well-done film that comes and grabs the viewer early on and takes them along for the ride, speed bumps and all. The story is charming and honest; it’s human with a side of funny. Most importantly, it comes off as real and in touch with reality. The writing here is good, it’s real, and it’s something that a story like this one needed to be told properly. Of course, the directing is also on point and very connected to the story.

The three leads here are played by Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, and Mykel Shannon Jenkins and they connect well together and with the audience, bringing a sense of realism to their characters, letting them be vulnerable at times and letting them have flaws. This is something that a lot of films seem to go either too perfect or too flawed and here it is just in the right balance in these leads’ performances. Their teen versions are fun to watch with that immortal vibe they have while their child version are just about right for the parts. The cast of The Paper Tigers goes through life as a team to create a vision as a team that works well and creates characters that are easy to work with and follow through to the end.

While The Paper Tigers is not a straight-up martial arts action film, fans of such films should love this one as it has some fighting, a lot of heart, and it’s about the right things in honor and family. It’s one of those films that comes of a bit odd at times, but it greatly adds to its charm. It’s the kind of film that is safe to watch as a family but is also perfectly fine for anyone who is not looking for a family film. It’s the kind of film that leaves you feeling good through a story that is fully executed with values that are relatable and a cast that gives performances that are just right for the story. It’s not perfect and that kind of the point in that the leads aren’t perfect, they aren’t trying to save the world, but they might just save their own world by the end of the film.

The Paper Tigers family lost their first assistant director tragically recently, please visit the GoFundMe set up to help out his loved ones.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs every year, and this year runs virtually from August 20th until September 2nd.