Coming from Well Go USA is this hilarious new kung fu comedy, written and directed by Tran Quoc Bao, and starring Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Roger Yuan and internet legend Master Ken himself, Matthew Page! Released in theatres and on demand from today, 7th May 2021!
Best known for his role as “Ernst Bodine” in the popular television series “True Detective”, actor and producer Alain Uy stars as “Danny”.
Actor, martial artist, director, stunt choreographer, and brother of Roger Yuan, Ron Yuan stars as “Hing”. Best known for his roles in the television shows “Sons of Anarchy”, “Prison Break”, and “CSI: NY”, Ron has also acted in numerous films, including Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Mulan”, “Drive”, “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist”, “Cradle 2 The Grave”, “Fast & Furious”, and “Blood and Bone”, to name but a few.
Mykel Shannon Jenkins stars as “Jim”. Having appeared in popular soap operas “General Hospital” and “The Bold and The Beautiful”, Mykel got to flex his physical talents as “Turbo”, ally to Scott Adkins’ Yuri Boyka in “Undisputed 3: Redemption”.
Veteran martial artist, actor, trainer, stuntman, and fight choreographer, Roger Yuan stars as “Sifu Cheung”. In a career spanning four decades, he has worked on productions such as “The Perfect Weapon”, “Showdown in Little Tokyo”, “Once Upon a Time in China & America”, “Lethal Weapon 4”, “Shanghai Noon”, “Batman Begins”, “Bulletproof Monk”, “Black Dynamite”, “Skyfall”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny”, “Accident Man”, “John Wick 3: Parabellum”, “Venom”, “Mulan” and many more.
Best known as the Internet comedy sensation “Master Ken”, Matthew Page plays “Carter”. A black belt in both American kenpo and Okinawan kenpo karate, Matthew has featured in productions such as “Breaking Bad”, “Flock”, “Odd Thomas”, “Lone Survivor”, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”, “The Space Between Us”, and “Waco”.
The film’s action director Ken Quitugua also stars as the main villain, “Zhen Fan”. Ken gained acclaim for his work on the viral martial arts movies “Unlucky Stars” and “The Challenger”. Actor Yuji Okumoto, best known for his intimidating movie roles, primarily as the villain Chozen Toguchi in “The Karate Kid Part II” and “Cobra Kai”, appears as “Wing”.
As teenagers, kung fu disciples Danny, Hing and Jim were inseparable. Fast forward thirty years, and each has grown into a washed-up middle-aged man seemingly one kick away from pulling a hamstring—and not at all preoccupied with thoughts of martial arts or childhood best friends.
THE PAPER TIGERS CLIP – Sifu is Dead
When their old master is murdered the trio reunites. To avenge their sifu, the Three Tigers will need to conquer old grudges, the shortcomings of age, and a deadly martial arts hitman, if they are to honourably defend their master’s legacy.
Enter an Ancient Palm Technique!
The action opens rather eerily in the dimly lit alleyways of Seattle, with veteran action star Roger Yuan the victim of what looks like a deadly, ancient palm technique.
Flashback thirty years, and we see he was the martial arts teacher to three young boys. A very clever VHS video sequence presents us with a history of their growth into teenagers and beyond.
The Three Tigers’ Genuine Martial Arts Skills
Occasionally humorous, it nonetheless reveals that the “Three Tigers” possess genuine martial arts skills, as a series of challenges and fights play out.
THE PAPER TIGERS CLIP – Sneak Attack
The now middle-aged and out-of-practice heroes reunite despite their differences, to take on three young upstarts who may know something about the circumstances behind their master’s demise.
Well-Presented Fighting Action
I always believe a good kung fu comedy always respects the art and takes the fight choreography seriously. Playing on what happens when old age catches up with you (I sympathise whole-heartedly with our heroes!), the fighting action is nonetheless presented properly, with some decent techniques on display.
Acrobatic vs Traditional Styles
The youngsters fire off fast, acrobatic, flexible kicks, whilst the old-timers rely more on traditional techniques, wits, and grit. It not only keeps things entertaining, but also makes the stakes more authentic for the Three Tigers.
Internet Sensation, Master Ken Delivers!
The Three Tigers face off with Carter, the victim of their youthful matches, played by Matthew Page of Master Ken fame.
This could have easily become a pale imitation of Page’s legendary Internet creation, but he creates something different, perfectly encapsulating the bruised ego of the former college jock looking for revenge.
This translates into the fighting, with Page keeping the techniques looking real whilst maintaining Carter’s swivel-eyed look of desire to finally beat his nemesis.
Brilliantly-Filmed Fight Finale…
There is a genuine sense of danger for the finale, which is probably the best-filmed fight of the movie. Pertinent use of slow motion not only illustrates Danny’s recall of his kung fu skills, but allows the audience to see how each technique is being applied and countered.
“The Paper Tigers” is an engaging comedy with decent action, a witty script, and most importantly, heart.
The natural chemistry between the three leads is the engine that motors this movie along, much like Clarkson, Hammond and May in “Top Gear” or Alan, Phil and Stu in “The Hangover”.
Our heroes aren’t perfect, and they don’t always get along, but they look out for each other and somehow manage to do the right thing, even when they get things wrong.
The performances all round are excellent; funny, dramatic and touching, all as and when required. Matthew Page nearly steals the show as he manages to be hilarious and yet keep it real at the same time.
The fight scenes are very well put together, with the younger cast members performing some thrilling, gravity-defying acrobatics, whilst the majority of the fighting remains grounded.
For those of you lucky enough to be able to see this in a theatre, I imagine there will be much laughter and cheering from the audience as the heroes fight their various battles.
I’m glad in a way that this film was made independently and that Hollywood didn’t get to dilute it. At one point it was suggested that all the leads be white with Bruce Willis in the main role! “The Paper Tigers” deserves to be a success and I genuinely hope it will lead to their further adventures!
- “Kung fu without honor is just fighting.” – Sifu Cheung
- “Listen, a lot of boneheads think they can solve things with their fists, like that guy back there right? You know what to do? You do what dad did, just be the bigger man and walk away.” – Danny
- “He’s a good looking kid. He doesn’t look like you at all!” – Hing
- “You look skinny, are you sick? You don’t look skinny, are you sick?” – Carte
- “Alright Kung Fu Panda. Why don’t you show us something?” – Elderly Coach
- Writer and director Tran Quoc Bao previously worked with several of the cast on his short film “The Challenger”.
- “The Paper Tigers” started out as a concept in 2011. Following the success of “The Challenger” in 2015, but struggling to gain funding from mainstream Hollywood, a pitch video was put together for a Kickstarter campaign to finance the movie independently.
- Tran Quoc Bao has previously worked under action legend Corey Yuen.