THE PAPER TIGERS Director Bao Tran On Finding The Perfect Blend Of Martial Arts And Comedy (Exclusive)

THE PAPER TIGERS Director Bao Tran On Finding The Perfect Blend Of Martial Arts And Comedy (Exclusive)

Achieving a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, The Paper Tigers delivers an extraordinary mixture of humor and martial arts, and to promote the upcoming release, we chatted exclusively with the director!

Martial arts films are still as popular as ever, with Cobra Kai dominating on Netflix. With filming recently wrapping on Season 4 of the Karate Kid spin-off, that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon.

Even Marvel Studios is getting in on the action, with the long-anticipated Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings set to finally hit theaters in September with a Disney+ streaming date announced for 90 days after.

Recently, a new martial arts masterpiece, The Paper Tigers, made an incredible impact on the genre, even going so far as to nab a coveted 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. As you can see from the trailer and official synopsis below, this film brilliantly balances comedy and action with an exceptional cast that knocks it out of the park.


 
As teenagers, kung fu disciples Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) were inseparable. Fast forward 25 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. But when their old master is murdered, the trio reunites, soon learning that avenging their sifu will require conquering old grudges (and a dangerous hitman still armed with ample knee cartilage) if they are to honorably defend his legacy.

After checking The Paper Tigers out for ourselves, we had to set up interviews to learn more about what makes the film such a hit. We were lucky enough to speak with producer Al'n Duong, stunt coordinator and star Ken Quitugua, and director Bao Tran, who detailed the filmmaking process for us.

Below, we have embedded the audio podcast to listen to what the director has to say as you read the included transcript. For those interested in the fully immersive interview experience, we have also added the full video at the bottom!

Literary Joe: The movie is incredible; how much editing did you go through to get to this perfect cut? Were there other parts you needed to take out to balance the comedy, or was this what you were aiming for the whole time?

Bao Tran: Yeah, it was a bit of a process. And then, as a bit of silver lining, when we shot the film, we were able to get everything done before lockdown here in Washington state because of COVID. So we were actually hunkered down in our post-production office, just cutting away for a while. So we didn't really have a deadline. And so that allowed us a little bit of time to work and fine-tune as you say and try to figure out how to get it right.

It was a process. We had a first assembly that was about three hours long, which is typically the length for assembly because you're laying down the facts of everything. And especially when you have the actors doing a lot of improvs. So we had a lot of these different options and stuff like that. And the story had some scenes that were eventually cut. So what we had to find a way to cut down for length, number one, and try and streamline the story. And number two, like you were saying, trying to find that balance of different moods and tones.

So that's always a fine point. Sometimes you tug too far on this one, or you go too far on the humor; it imbalances the whole thing. So finding that general central line for all those things was a bit of a process with our editor, Chris Christiansen, and just finding that. So yeah, it took a while, but thankfully, it sounds like it works. It seems like a lot of people are responding to it, so that's great to hear.

You can see the full video interview with director Bao Tran, producer Al'n Duong, and action choreographer Ken Quitigua below. As always, be sure to share your thoughts in the usual spot!


 
I had the incredible opportunity to speak with the team responsible for The Paper Tigers, an amazing martial arts film that blends comedy and action to deliver an experience worthy of a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. The director, Bao Tran, the producer, Al'n Duong, and the action choreographer, Ken Quitugua, all chatted with me about their experience putting the film together, the combination of martial arts that are involved, and the process it took to put together such a revered film. 


The Paper Tigers is available on digital now and on Blu-ray & DVD June 22 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

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