The Paper Tigers review – martial arts team reunites in likable comedy

Quoc Bao Tran’s tale of three ageing men who meet up again when their old teacher dies is formulaic but charming, with some great fight sequences

Quoc Bao Tran, a promising film-maker whose previous work includes editing and action coordination, makes his writing-directing debut with this highly likable if formulaic action comedy about three middle-aged guys reunited when their old martial-arts master dies suddenly. The word on the internet is that Tran has been trying to get backing to make this for years, but the Hollywood studios he approached wanted him to whitewash it by casting at least one famous Caucasian actor. But Tran insisted on having the core trio played by two Asian Americans and one Black American and raised the budget partly through crowdfunding. The fact that none of the stars are huge names, and look just like schlubby dudes you might see on your street, makes this all the more accessible as a story about men who were once great athletes but have let their skills rust over a bit over the years.

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