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The Ending Of The Paper Tigers Explained

If you're ever in the mood to watch an action-packed movie, there are tons of great martial arts films to choose from. Aside from classics like Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon," some of the best martial arts movies are on Netflix or other streaming platforms for you to enjoy. One of Netflix's most recent additions is the martial arts comedy "The Paper Tigers," and it's currently heating up on the trending list.

"The Paper Tigers" follows three old friends named Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan), and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) who grew up fighting alongside each other in a kung fu trio known as The Three Tigers. As adults in the present day, the estranged friends reunite after their master Sifu Cheung (Roger Yuan) is killed. Unfortunately for them, they've been out of practice for years — but fortunately for us, plenty of hilarity comes from the three middle-aged men attempting to relive their youth.

"The Paper Tigers" is both heartfelt and hilarious, and is perfect for action fans of all ages. Here's the ending of "The Paper Tigers" explained.

There was a fourth Tiger after all

One of the key reasons The Three Tigers stayed together for so long was their belief that they were the only disciples of Sifu Cheung. However, once Sifu died, the group's old nemesis Carter (Matthew Page) reveals that Sifu did actually have a fourth disciple, who got too powerful for his own good. When Sifu tried to revoke kung fu from the mysterious fighter, he killed his master in defiance. The Three Tigers then set out to find their master's killer and get revenge.

Eventually, The Three Tigers find the killer in an underground dojo by listening for the hardest hits. They follow him to a restaurant, where Hing trails him to a restroom and witnesses yet another kill via Poison Fingers — he's so powerful, he doesn't have to do much to set heart attacks on his foes. To add insult to injury, when The Three Tigers corner the assassin in an alley, he reveals that he even has the official brand that Sifu gave Danny many years before as a symbol of his legitimacy within the dojo.

The truth of the fourth Tiger could've been used to tear the original trio further apart, but instead, they took the opportunity to prove their close bond, as well as show just why Danny earned the name Danny Eight Hands. 

The Paper Tigers is about friendship

The heart of "The Paper Tigers" is friendship. While the men's relationship evolved from a close brotherhood in youth to being basically strangers in adulthood, they were able to reconnect through their love for their master, and repair some wrongdoings along the way. Their friendship serves as a reminder that it's possible to come back from past trauma and come out stronger on the other side.

Additionally, the once-ultra cool and tough teens turned middle-aged men (who can hardly run after their opponents) had to go through a major reckoning after deciding to avenge Sifu. Aside from having to put their pride on the backend to ask Carter for his help, the older men had to face the reality of their being "old" and adjust to their under-used bodies. While they poked fun at one another for being out of shape or out of practice, they ultimately stood by each other as they worked to discover the truth behind Sifu's death.

Martial arts is used as a vehicle for growth

Another theme that runs through "The Paper Tigers" is the more obvious aspect of martial arts — though it's used for more than just the fun action sequences. Though the men started out in great shape and with seemingly grounded values, we find that they're far from that in adulthood. Danny's more focused on his job than his family, Hing is out of shape, and Jim has foregone kung fu and taken up other forms of fighting.

The grueling path the men take to re-learn their kung fu skills and avenge their master culminates in both a physical and spiritual transformation. By the end of the film, Danny makes much more of an effort to bond with his son, and the two even train kung fu in their garage together; Hing uses the healing skills Sifu taught him to work with the elderly; and Jim teaches martial arts to kids at the community gym.

Though their beloved Sifu is dead, The Three Tigers are able to finally utilize his teachings and practice kung fu with honor, as well as learn where their true values lay.