Review: “Tiger Cubs” (By Canto)

Tiger Cubs <飛虎>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2012

Producer: Lam Chi Wah
Genre: Action, Police Procedural Drama
Number of episodes: 13



Joe Ma as Senior Inspector Chin Hon To, Special Duties Unit (SDU) A Team Leader
Jessica Hsuan as Senior Inspector Chong Chuk Wah, Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) Team Inspector
Him Law as Asst. Sgt. Yu Hok Lai, SDU A Team Assaulter
Oscar Leung as Asst. Sgt. Chong Chuk Yuen, SDU A Team Sniper
Vincent Wong as Asst. Sgt. Yau Chun Hin, SDU A Team Sniper
Christine Kuo as a flight attendant, playing the love interest of Joe Ma’s and Oscar Leung’s characters.
Kenneth Ma playing a violent criminal, together with his wife, played by JJ Jia
JJ Jia playing the wife of Kenneth Ma’s character
Mandy Wong as Probationary Inspector So Man-keung, A Team administrative support technician


The first episode averaged at 29 points and the last episode peaked at 30 points, making it one of the highest rated TVB series of the year.

First and foremost, Tiger Cubs is a thrilling, adrenaline pumping ride all the way from the start to the finish, for those who like this genre anyway.

Male audiences love this series for its action packed, and police action. Female audiences love, well, just love the men in the series.

What’s good about this series:

  1. With a budget of over $15 million HKD, each episode took $1 million HKD to make, three times more expensive than an average TVB drama production and it shows in the quality of the film. It has an almost movie-like feel in some scenes, the sets, and the action sequences.
  2. Each episode also starts with a crime and concludes with the solving of it in 1-2 episodes, lending to the fast paced action for today’s impatient viewer. It was quite satisfying for us who had been weaned on fast TV, to have a new crime to look forward to each episode and have SDU and OCTB resolve it by the end of 1-2 episodes.
  3. Men, Men and More Men

There are men galore to fill up every female viewer’s taste and preference in this series. We shall do a further analysis of them:

Joe Ma:  As the SDU A Team Leader, Senior Inspector Chin Hon-to, he is a physically capable and work related excellent police officer. He is also strong, demanding, to the point of being a slave driver to his subordinates, but really you know, it’s because he cares for them and want to ensure that they are trained and fit for the dangerous work they do. For all his manliness and capability at work, he is somewhat clueless about love, courting women and doing romantic gestures, etc.

For his proposal to Christine Kuo’s character, he even had to ask his subordinate, his good friend Asst. Sgt. Chong Chuk Yuen, played by Oscar Leung, to plan and orchestrate the whole proposal scene, (which I felt was quite cheesy by the way), which of course led the girl to fall in love with the guy who planned it, not her boyfriend.

Later Joe develops a love arc with Senior Inspector Chong Chuk Wah, OCTB Team Inspector, played by Jessica Hsuan. Both of them are workaholics, so their romance and love will be one filled with criminals, unsolved crimes and police action, which suits them just fine.

Him Law: He is cute and the most beefy of the lot, with his well worked out pecs and legs. There are lots of gratuitous shower scenes of him and Vincent Wong for a TVB series.

He is from a well to do family and at first he was rash, impatient, impulsive and arrogant. He clashed with his Team Leader and insisted that Joe Ma was picking on him unfairly when the latter was just being strict with him in order for him to learn teamwork and discipline.

He acts passably well, he was believable as a testosterone charged, rash young man. I think many girls fell for his cute face and muscular body. Later on he fit in with the team and even struck up a close friendship with Mandy Wong’s Probationary Inspector So Man Keung.

Oscar Leung: My favorite of the group, he played Joe Ma’s good friend, later turned reluctant love rival, and Jessica Hsuan’s younger brother.

He is one of the most experienced sniper on A Team, and the scenes where he is waiting, hiding and concentrating as a sniper, he looks really cool. Oscar Leung has bulked up for this role and he looks very good. Not only his body but even his face looks broader and manly.

He loves to wink and he did it once or twice on the show and I believe that’s the reason why Christine Kuo’s air stewardess role fell for him.

Christine’s character was throwing herself at him, which he tried valiantly to reject her because she used to be Inspector Chin’s fiancée, and there is a code of honor between men, you know, good friends do not steal each other’s women.

In fact, Oscar Leung’s character had met Christine Kuo first and fell for her at first sight, but he never told her of his feelings, and Joe Ma professed his interest in her first.

I also like Oscar’s synergy with Jessica Hsuan. He is a good actor, and he brings to life his characters with some of his unique qualities,  cheerfulness, and cuteness. In my mind, Oscar should always be this fit, and stop playing lousy, wastrel characters, which he did well as well. I think he is a talented actor and hopefully, over time will be given chances to prove himself as the lead rather than secondary characters. He acts so well that he is in danger of being typecast and hated in lousy roles.

Vincent Wong: I should make a brief commentary about him too, as I know that some female viewers prefer him. Depending on your taste, he is a nice change for some from the over testosterone filled Him Law. He is a sniper and often works with Oscar Leung on stakeouts.

Unlike the other SDU men, he has the most insecurity because his father and elder brother are both outstanding police officers and he feels the pressure if he cannot perform as well as them.

He lends a bout of insecurity and vulnerability when he doubted his own abilities, nothing that good o’ Team Leader Joe Ma could not pep talk out of anyway. He is a genuine nice guy who goes out of his way to help even poor, old people like volunteering his time and weekends with them.

In terms of physical attributes, he looks tall, and his body as fit, which I guess was the reason why he got the shower scenes with Him Law. He is more lean than bulky, which some girls prefer.

His chance to shine was in the last scene where Kenneth Ma and JJ Jia tortured him. One really felt sorry for him then, and we agreed that he succeed as a SDU and his family would be very proud of him.

I thought Vincent Wong delivered his performance. He is gradually becoming a suitable actor, as I remember he delivers adequately in roles in other TVB series too. What he is needs is perhaps a more magnetic and dynamic screen presence which for now he seems not to command yet.

I could go on about the rest of the characters, which are all interesting, for example, Kenneth Ma’s turn as a sexy, rough, violent villain. He was slightly maniacal with his wife on screen, played by JJ Jia. He was very good as a crazy, violent terrorist which made my heart beat faster whenever he came on screen. Was it because I was afraid of what the crazy man would do to harm the innocent? Was it because of his cool, almost shaven head?

Jessica Hsuan puts in a solid performance as expected from a veteran actress of her caliber, but gives it an interesting spin as a slightly suicidal OCTB Team Inspector. I think the depressive, suicidal dimension to her character, out of a place as a police officer, was interesting. How would you handle a police officer, dedicated to her duty and harbors a secret death wish? She feels guilty about failing to save her fiancé when he was killed in a terrorist attack.

Christine Kuo generally failed as a cute, bubbly air stewardess which should gain more sympathy, but instead turns off due to poor acting. Many females felt that she was overly bimbotic in her portrayal. Actually for her role, a better actress would be able to portray great dynamics with both Joe Ma and Oscar Leung, and still gain some sympathy from viewers when she was rejected repeatedly by Oscar. Come on, so gorgeous and still rejected? Bet that does not happen much in real life! She did not annoy me though; speaking on behalf of the guys out there, I think she has a great figure, with a sweet face and is gorgeous.

If there is anything that I could fault is that police and action-packed series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those who prefer deeper meanings in their dramas. In some scenes, the poseur of the SDU’s coolness is slightly overdone and repeated. Okay, okay we get it! They are cool, manly and Tiger Cubs!

But for those who like this genre, in all it was a very satisfying and thrilling ride from start to finish.

This review is written by Canto, a Contributing Writer at 

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  1. The beginning and ending episodes were good, the middle faltered in usual TVB style.

    Kenneth (& JJ) and Natalie Tong were probably the more/most stand-out gueststars for me. My suggestion to TVB would be to adopt the format and try to get some bigger names to guest star for an episode. The non-committal aspect plus a chance at doing a fun villainous character might actually be sellable concept. Similar to how they are able to get big names to attend their variety shows.

  2. I will miss Tiger Cubs! I hope they will come up with a sequel and feature more great guest performances 🙂

    1. I think they will do the sequel. As the end of episode 13 – their is a highjack in the midair they want the plane returns back to HongKong. In the plane Joe was proposed to Jessica and it is so funny when those guys with gun demand the plane returns to HongKong – Joe and Jessica’s face crack you up….

  3. Christine Kuo is a miss-cast! The series did really good. TVB could have done a 20 episodes if they include character background and other training.

    Rating: 4 out 5

    Do the sequel, a must!

  4. The one time I hope for a sequel. I hope Jessica can use her friendship’s card. 🙂

  5. Great series!

    Enjoyed all the performances even though some story lines were extremely cheesy, thought they pulled it off quite well.

    Jessica’s Madam Jo is miles ahead of Fala Chen’s Madam Jo which was better than Kate Tsui’s pouty lipgloss and catwalk hair.

    1. Totally agree. Jessica did excelent job in drama. Highlight by her solid performance. Better overcast Joe and make them great pair.
      Kudos her. TVB must keep her as lead role in similar roles. I look fwd to see her in sequel.

    2. I didn’t think Jess’ Madam Jo was anything special but ofc she was better than Fala’s Jodie. First of, she’s been in the industry for a lot longer and has portrayed many professional characters. Second, Fala’s Jodie was terrible.

      I also didn’t care for the tacked on “romance” between her and Joe Ma because they had very limited chemistry. However, I absolutely loved her with Oscar Leung. A lot of the Joe Ma scenes should have given to Oscar instead, and the show would have been stronger for focusing on their sibling relationship instead of a bland romance.

      1. Jessica and Joe tacked on romance still more natural than Wayne and Maggie tacked on romance in FF3….I guess I really didn’t like FF3 all that much.

      2. I’ll take your word on that since I didn’t bother to watch FH3

      3. Both Joe/Jessica and Wayne/Mandy’s romance were unconvincing lol

        TC would be less boring if there wasn’t any romance. Or maybe do a sexual tension thing like with Him Law and Mandy Wong. More interesting, in fact. It keeps the audience guessing.

  6. The case that really stood out for me was the one with Natalie Tong. I think she takes on villain roles quite well. Yoyo Chen isn’t bad either.

  7. In this drama, OCTB team acts professional lead by Jessica. Much prof and great than any TVB action police drama. I like the team wearing suite. All looks fit and good esp. Jessica. Her cloths in this drama are very fit and nice. Jessica is still best actress among current falas. Much solid performance in term of facial, action, emotion than Kate & Fala.
    Natatia & Kenneth portraited best guest roles. I like them the most. All guests act good. Christine Koo is the worst actress in acting. Wonder why not pick others like YoYo?
    Why TVB must put new febies in too much?
    Vincent & Mandy are good new commers, Him Law is second. Joe did good job. I wish he looks handsome a bit to influent me but he fails 🙂
    Jessica puts him up as they make great chemistry couple. Without Jessica, Joe can’t delivery the role. I like Louis Koo to replace him 🙂

  8. Jessica Husan is best for this kind of action drama series. She is good in portraying some strong, stubborn and well-educated characters, such as police inspectors, lawyers, prosecutors, etc.

    1. @sandcherry
      I disagree about that. I think Jessica is much better off with roles like the one in Dicey Business, or Golden Faith.

    2. She used to be good at those… now she looks just bored or annoyed of these roles. It’s a shame. I don’t know what to do with her anymore.

  9. This is first time that Jessica takes detective role. I think only Jessica can be fit with Joe as Joe is too tall, and who can be fit with him? Fala? Jessica is good co-star with Joe in the past. This role in the drama requires both physical and emotion for Madame Chong. It’s action but the actress must show lot of emotion and in variety of senses that needs acting a lot. Jessica is so good in the last two episodes. Eps 12 is that she dues with the past and find out the truth. Didn’t you see that she’s very good in learning script for the role? Lot of words, terminologies. We all know Jessica had acted in lawyer roles which talks in prof words. In Eps 13, Jessica did action with gun, phone, leadership skill, car driving…. I’m really surprise that she has body physically fit for the role as she mentioned that she has zero exercise. But she looks fit and great in madame. She dresses so prof and good.

    1. Jessica Husan acted so much better as a detective head than Fala Chen in “Lives of Omission” or Kate Tsui in “Forensic Heroes 3”.

  10. I loved all the casts except that bimbo Christine. She annoyed me whenever she spoke & cried. Hated her screen time with both Joe & Oscar. Joe & Jess pairing made them a cute couple. Noticed how they addressed each other in such a formal sir/madam. For me Joe looked exceptionally hot as Chin Sir. Good & smart looking!

  11. Natalie Tong Char Was Really A Standout. She had been portraying sweet innocent girls and had very little villian roles(exception of fh3).Shes a really good actress.Not many negative news.Yeah!Txb should try and promote her!!

  12. sequel please. i just love these type of no brainer endless action series. it’s like, i don’t have to use my brain to digest the storyline (unlike master of play or whb). it just comes to me.

  13. Thanks for the review.
    TC got my vote for best TV series of the year.
    I miss TC and is really looking forward to the sequel if it is really happen.

  14. I really liked the format of this drama, namely:

    1 – One episode per week. This ensures that TVB will keep each episode high quality so the audience will not lose interest.
    2 – It is case-driven rather than character-driven. Character-driven plot can be very boring if it’s done poorly, and as a crime drama, crime should be its main plot. (Which is why I really appreciated the style of “Every Move You Make” although many complained that it had poor character development… -_-)

    What I did not like about this drama is:

    1 – The unnecessary romance. Christine Kuo’s Wai-wai is a very useless character. This drama could have easily went on without the dramatic romance. In fact, Him Law and Mandy Wong’s non-existent romance was way more enjoyable, and I’m pretty sure most romance fanatics enjoyed their side-story more than Christine and Oscar Leung/Joe Ma’s. Although ManHim did not end up together, the sexual tension was still there, and it was implied that they will get together in the sequel, if there will be one.

    2 – Some of the cases were either very boring or poorly written, or both. Kenneth Ma and JJ Jia’s episode was also not as great as I had expected. It was, overall, a very illogical episode.

    My overall consensus of Tiger Cubs is: yes, it was very entertaining and enjoyable. However, the writing was a disappointment.

  15. I hope tiger cub shall have a sequel ,this drama i voted the best of 2012 ,the cast are good except the taiwanese actress christine kuo ,him law and mandy wong shall develop more scence ,i think 4 of 5 rating .

  16. I wish there will be the second season, waiting for Tiger Cub II that will be amazing.

  17. Jessica and Joe Ma are my favourite couple.They are very matching. I love the sequel and love the original cast,plus
    Bobby as guest…make Joe a little jealous, but please
    don’t kill any of the character. Jessica’s assistant is
    not bad.

  18. Each episode also starts with a crime and concludes with the solving of it in 1-2 episodes, lending to the fast paced action for today’s impatient viewer. It was quite satisfying for us who had been weaned on fast TV, to have a new crime to look forward to each episode and have SDU and OCTB resolve it by the end of 1-2 episodes.

    This is what my bf n I like the most about this drama. Those love relationships are annoying especially when it drags on forever.

    Christine is very annoying n not good looking at all. She reminds me of Anne heung. She looks like a mannequin that has gone under the knife. I like JJ. She good in acting.

    This is the first time that I see him law n Vincent in action. Not bad!

    I like Oscar a lot just hope he didn’t end up with that doll face Christine. Whoever thinks she is even pretty has bad taste in woman.

    Joe Ma does fit this role n I missed Jessica. I wished one side of her bangs is longer though.

    Great drama. The best one in a long time. Whoever is the director is a genious!!!

      1. Agh, seriously!? I was hoping he’d end up with Mandy. Am about 7 episodes in.

        Thanks for the review!

  19. From today news, look like seq is not started till next half year. Jessica said it has not confirmed any plan yet. Just wonder if she will sign any contract in advance with TVB?
    I think tvb should start seq soon ealier while audiences are still in favorite mood 🙂

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