Fantasia 2020 review: ‘The Paper Tigers’ is a funny, action packed crowd-pleaser.

Synopsis

Action/Dramedy
Three childhood Kung Fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men – now one kick away from pulling their hamstrings. But when their master is murdered, they must juggle their dead-end jobs, dad duties, and overcome old grudges to avenge his death.

Making its world premiere at Fantasia 2020, The Paper Tigers is endlessly funny with amazing fight choreography. Any time a moment gets serious, a hilarious joke is cracked. It keeps the pace alive and well. Writer-director Writer-director Bao Tran has given audiences a real treat. When I told my husband about the plot, he lovingly jested “I liked it better when it was called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” And yes, it has a fantastic nostalgia that the series also possessed, and you cannot avoid comparisons to The Karate Kid. These are all genuine compliments. This film is sheer perfection for my generation because it feels like a love letter to martial arts films but has that extra something unique. As someone who is also currently binging Cobra Kai, The Paper Tigers arrives at the right moment.

The plot is unexpected. We get to delve into friendship, loyalty, parenting, and the reality of aging all through a mystery. There is nothing I didn’t enjoy about the film. The fight sequences are super engrossing and again, any moment that veers into the weighty territory is carefully cut with humor. The editing reveals more backstory information little by little with flashbacks all caught on camcorder footage. It’s a great touch. The Paper Tigers is an awesome introduction to anyone who hasn’t seen a martial arts film before. It will ease you into the genre all while capturing your heart… and make you laugh out loud. What more can you ask for?

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.