To consolidate workload with the amount of films I watched over the course of the 2020 Fantasia Festival, I have combined a couple reviews of films together in one post.
THE PAPER TIGERS
The Paper Tigers is a movie that looks at three former Kung Fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men. When their master is murdered, they go on an ill-advised mission to find out who killed him, but they must juggle their dead-end jobs, dad duties, and old grudges in order to do so.
Writer/director Quoc Bao Tran has made an original take on the revenge movie and the “getting the gang back together” film. This is funny, exciting, touching, and sad look at three men getting over issues from their past to solve the murder of the man who taught them everything they know. Normally in revenge movies, the person extracting the revenge is physically intimidating or a pro with a weapon and can easily take down anyone in their way. Not this one. These are men well beyond their primes who are missing a step or two. They are out shape, have to wear knee braces, and with one false move they could tear a muscle. And even with knowing this and knowing the threats they face could be fatal, they still risk it all to avenge their master. The mystery of who killed their master isn’t the main point of The Paper Tigers. This is a movie that looks at friendship, regret, and forgiveness while also featuring terrific comedy and exciting fight sequences.
Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, and Mykel Shannon Jenkins star as our three former prodigies and they are all excellent. Each man portrays regret and guilt, but also deliver funny lines and great physicality to their performances. Yuan was my favorite of three as he plays Hing, the one person in the trio of really believes they can still do good and still lives his life through the teachings of their former master.
I really had a great time with The Paper Tigers. Tran’s script is funny and original, yet full of relatable themes and emotion. The acting is uniformly great and the fight scenes are thrilling and well-choreographed, particularly the pool fight and final rooftop battle. Quoc Bao Tran is a talent I will be keeping an eye on in the future.
MONSTER SEAFOOD WARS
Here’s the premise for Monster Seafood Wars: A sushi delivery boy accidentally drops his meal of mixed seafood into the Sumida River. Some time afterwards a gigantic mutated squid monster arises from the depths and begins to wreak havoc upon Tokyo. It sound preposterous, but this was a movie I was really excited for and was hoping for some B-movie, midnight movie madness.
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough midnight madness for this movie to fully work. I absolutely loved when the film focused on the monsters, which consist of the a giant octopus, squid, and crab, all from the sushi that was dropped into the river. I’m pretty sure the monsters were just actors in suits, but they’re ridiculous and fun. The battle sequences are cheap fun and make no sense, but are fun and would be infinitely more fun with
However, all the fun and chaos is only a fraction of what happens in the brisk 86-minute film. The film has a bit too much plot for its own good and not a lot of it is interesting or compelling. There are some homages to classic Godzilla films, but none of it really clicks. This should have been a simple movie about the seafood monsters destroying Tokyo and the government assigned task force taking it down. Instead, the movies tries to do a lot more when it didn’t need to.
I was fully sober when watching Monster Seafood Wars, and maybe that was the problem. Maybe this is the midnight movie that requires you to be in a different mind-state when watching. I just don’t know if
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