“Flying Tiger” takes a relatively familiar storyline and pumps it full of fine acting performances and graceful cinematography. That familiar storyline I am speaking of involves a boy with the incredible gift of flight, living in a small town and trying to keep it a secret from the local residents (and even some members of his family). Sounds and feels a bit like television’s “Smallville” but has more of an independent filmmaker’s touch. Here, the characters are more interesting and thankfully, his flying ability isn’t used to try and create the only attention-grabbing element of the film.
Mark Fairchild (Purkeypile) discovers that his son has a unique flying ability at an early age. In an effort to keep it a secret from the world, he moves his family out to a small town and purchases acres and acres of land so that his son can practice his gift. As Seth (Schany) enters his teenage years, he finds his skill a little bit harder to disguise.
Mark does his best to keep his son out of sight, he even finds himself constantly driving through his land looking for trespassers that may accidentally see this miracle. One day he stumbles upon Jimmy, a wacky and bearded artifact hunter, seeking Indian relics in a pond and throws him out of his land. Jimmy returns curiously, pondering what it is exactly that Mark is trying to hide. Jimmy then begins an unending quest to return to the property and sooner or later, he finds clues about Seth’s secret identity.
As “Flying Tiger” begins, you almost expect some superhero happenings, yet, they never come into fruition. This isn’t a story trying to label Seth as remarkable; it is simply one of those stories about someone a little different than the rest of us. Sure that may sound like the average family friendly fare, which it is, but it doesn’t spew out all of the cheese, sentimentality and moralization the genre is known for.
The editing may not be perfect but the film has a lot of good going for it. One of the best shots of the film is an early matte painting showing a fossilized dinosaur in the clearing of an archeological dig. It’s a huge and the director knew what he wanted to show and it was done without compromise. Matte paintings were used all throughout “Flying Tiger” and thankfully, it’s hard to tell.
Another fine element is the performances, especially the character of Jimmy, played by Casey Clark. He does an admirable job of mixing enough unique traits to a somewhat clichéd character – the wacky and annoying scientist type – to keep you thoroughly entertained each time he hits the screen.
“Flying Tiger” also has one more thing going for it –director Keith Morris chose wisely with his preference of never actually showing the boy fly. Doing too much would just take away from the rest of the story, and doing it cautiously may also distract the viewer’s attention. Perhaps that this choice was due to budgetary concerns but nevertheless, it worked so much better because of it.