The review for The Tiger’s Apprentice focuses on heartwarming fantasy animation that centers on Team Cat.

The review for The Tiger’s Apprentice focuses on heartwarming fantasy animation that centers on Team Cat.


This animated film, which is both charming and unoriginal, has been released just in time for the lunar new year and the February school break. It can be compared to a store-bought Chinese steamed bun – too sweet, but addictive. The plot, based on a book by Laurence Yep, follows the life of Tom (voiced by Brandon Soo Hoo), a teenager living in San Francisco with his grandmother, Amah (voiced by Tan Kheng Hua). Amah is a quirky old woman who insists on covering their 19th-century home in good luck decorations, leading people to mistake it for a shrine and leave oranges at their doorstep.

The purple stone in Amah’s possession has the ability to transform into a phoenix, making it a highly coveted magical object sought after by the shape-shifting villain Loo (played by Michelle Yeoh) for her nefarious plans. Fortunately, Amah has a close-knit group of animal-human hybrids, resembling the Avengers, who can switch between their human and animal forms at will. One of the prominent members is Hu (played by Henry Golding), the tiger who is also the film’s namesake. In his human form, Hu is a handsome and paternal figure, but his strong-willed and independent feline nature requires him to become a better mentor for his new apprentice, Tom, in order to stop Loo’s wicked schemes. It is evident that this movie was created by individuals who are all on Team Cat.

The remaining 11 mystical animal-human hybrids represent the creatures in the Chinese zodiac. However, in a significant portion of the film, characters like Pig (Deborah S Craig), Dog (Patrick Gallagher), Snake (Poppy Liu), Horse (Diana Lee Inosanto), and others are imprisoned due to Loo’s actions. This leaves the tiger, the magnificent dragon (Sandra Oh), the sly rat (Bowen Yang), witty monkey (Sherry Cola), and bitter rabbit (Greta Lee, underutilized) to assist with training Tom and fighting against Loo. Additionally, there is Tom’s love interest, Rav (Leah Lewis), who skateboards and plays guitar, adding to the already vast scope of the film. While it is exciting to see the Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper, known for its unattractive appearance, being destroyed in the finale, the overall visual style of the movie is fairly generic.