Gotta give thanks to A.B Nayar for bringing this movie to my attention and putting “The Paper Tigers” on my radar. Me and my Grandma are suckers for well choreographed, hard-hitting, balls to the walls action set pieces as well as the influences of Chinese culture so as soon as I heard about this movie, I absolutely HAD to see it.
And my verdict? As a kung-fu throwback, a broad underdog drama and a partial Karate Kid/Cobra Kai throwback surrounding men who have relearn what it means to honor each other and fight for themselves, this kicked some major ass.....a good chunk of the time.
Each of its cast members had solid chemistry with each other, which in turn brought out very solid performances, the characters were memorable for the most part (would've liked a bit more depth to each of the 3 main characters) and the writing didn't feel pandering, managing to maintain sturdy surrogate balance between humor and drama.....the few bits of each that worked. Doesn’t always play ball with the comedy, since the splices of scenes that show the trio not being as flawless as they are is a nice touch but gets repetitive kind of fast. These fight scenes were truly worth the price of admission, but not so much so that they’d put the IP Man movies choreography to shame. But hey, I expected that. We can see the action fluently, nobody looks out of place outside of when they need to be and I admired the fact that they not only highlighted but centered this film around the reality that martial arts expert or otherwise, not everyone is invincible.
To me, it’s the middle where I started to get a little turned off. It gets more repetitive, the story loses track of where it’s supposed to go and a good chunk of its momentum is lost because of that. It does pick back up by the time we get to the last act but by that point, the entire film’s schtick had worn itself out. Not to mention with everything that happens or is just skimmed past, it feels very inflated.
What it does well, it does really well but when it drags, it really REALLY drags and in doing so, lose its focus as a result. With that being said, martial arts fan or not, there’s something for everyone here.