It was back in 2015 that award-winning filmmaker Bao Tran graced netizens with an amazing original kung fu action shortfilm titled The Challenger. To that end, I got to achieve quite a bit in interviewing Tran and performers Andy Le and Unlucky Stars actor Ken Quitugua and assuredly, I can attest that this project has a much more prospective and grand reach.
I'm talking feature film status with The Challenger, clocked at an energizing 8-minutes, serving as a narrative prologue toward Tran's vision for the ambitious kung fu comedy, The Paper Tigers. With a tagline hailing "A Kung Fu Comedy That's Woke AF", Tran will direct from his own script which centers on Danny and his friends - two washed-up, out-of-shape kung fu brothers as they band together to reawaken their abilities and avenge their master's mysterious death.
Quitugua, who starred in Tran's acclaimed action noir, Bookie in 2009 among numerous martial arts shorts hailing from online action staple Zero Gravity, is directing the action sequences. Producers Michael Velasquez and Al’n Duong who produced The Challenger will serve as producers for Tran's new movie alongside, popular character actor Yuji Okumoto of The Karate Kid II fame also producing. XYZ Films, the instrumental company behind the push for The Raid 1 & 2 as well as the Mo' Brothers-directed Iko Uwais-led actioner, Headshot, has hopped aboard for the film's North American sales rights.
"THE PAPER TIGERS promises to be an entertaining action movie that portrays complex characters of color in a progressive light." says Tran. "If you’ve been following the #OscarsSoWhite and whitewashing casting controversies you’ll know that we can’t trust big Hollywood studios to tell our stories responsibly – which is why we’re doing it ourselves. This is pop culture as activism, and we hope you'll join our fight."
Representatives at XYZ Films add: "THE PAPER TIGERS combines the sort of good-natured stunt action that has made Jackie Chan an international icon with the classic buddy comedy underdog story. This is pure feel-good entertainment that we believe will leave audiences around the globe cheering."
You can pretty much watch Bookie and The Challenger to get your own feel for how Tran treats martial arts action. At best, he's one of the best - a fact to which anyone who covers martial arts movies would agree, and if a film like The Paper Tigers is his next step, I'd say it's worth supporting.
Thus, the official website is now up and running as is their non-profit fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, where your donations are tax-deductible and eligible for corporate matching programs. Feel free to visit the page as well as the film's official website to help lend your much-needed support for an original martial arts action movie by an inspired, prime director.
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