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Series / Tiger Cubs

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Tiger Cubs (飛虎, which literally means Flying Tigers in Chinese) is a Hong Kong TV series produced and created by TVB. A police procedural show that centers on the Hong Kong Police Force's elite anti-crime/terrorist unit called the Special Duties Unit (an alternative title given by TVB) alongside "The One", the title being rarely used in Hong Kong media), it first aired in 2012, with a second season in 2014.

In Cantonese, it's officially called Flying Tigersnote  or Special Duties Unit as well. The show centers on the SDU's officers and personnel as they are deployed throughout the SAR to battle against armed criminals and terrorists, as well as being called in to support their fellow officers when their expertise or manpower is needed when firearms are involved. The SDU frequently works alongside detectives of the HKPF's Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) in most of their cases. It also shows the lives of these officers in and out of work as they try to balance their personal and professional lives, despite their position in the force.

The first season, with 13 episodes, has finished airing on TVB with good ratings and a DVD release in Hong Kong and in the United States. Actor Joe Ma sang the opening theme of the first season called 身邊的依據 or "Surrounding Basis". For the second season, he sang 血與汗 or "Blood and Sweat" as its opening theme.

A second season has already aired in Hong Kong with a total of 10 episodes. While the majority of the cast reprises their roles in the second season, lead actress Jessica Hsuan could not return for her role as OCTB Senior Inspector Chong Chuk-wah.

Outside of Hong Kong, the show has officially been broadcasted in TV stations in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and in the United States. It's also known to be one of the most expensive dramas to ever be produced, with a total budget allocated by TVB at HKD$15 million, with HKD$1 million budgeted for each episode shot in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Police Force, like in all Hong Kong-produced movies and TV shows involving the force (except for those produced from overseas, like Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight), has cooperated with TVB by providing the needed training and equipment in order to help the actors portray themselves in the show as actual SDU officers in the HKPF.

Although the series ended after 2 seasons, its spiritual successors include Flying Tiger (飛虎之潛行極戰, lit. trans. "Flying Tigers: Stealth Battle") (2018), and Flying Tiger 2 (飛虎之雷霆極戰, lit. trans. "Flying Tigers: Thunder Battle") (2020),

This series contains examples of:

  • Absence of Evidence: In "Army Obsession", the OCTB has a hard time finding airgun BBs that were used to kill off several persons charged in court with several crimes before they were released to the streets. This leads to the conclusion that the suspects had taken the time to remove them from the ground and from the corpses to ensure that they would not be implicated.
  • Action Girl: In season 1, Madam Chong in almost every episode, and So Man-keung to a lesser extent due to her role as a technical support officer. In season 2, CIB constable Chung Wai-yan takes part in a lot of operations.
  • Addled Addict: The grandson and taxi driver in "Cracking the Drug Den", who gets high on cocaine.
  • Asshole Victim: All of the Fuerdais involved in "The 2G Kidnapping Case". They're rich, bossy, won't listen to instructions from the host and the police to protect them from getting kidnapped to the point of just wanting to get away from the police and act like nothing's happening. But that changes when they're taken hostage.
  • Big Brother Instinct: The normally reserved Madam Chong shows concern for Cheuk-yuen when he's sent to observe a possible drug facility in "Cracking the Drug Den", enough that Hon-to accuses her of assuming that he's doing it to get back at Cheuk-yuen, to which she doesn't answer.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: English and Cantonese for obvious reasons. In "The 2G Kidnapping Case", the Malaysian-Chinese nationals speak English and Cantonese, which is correct since Malaysia has a Chinese population and some parts of it do speak Cantonese as a regional language in Malaysia.
  • Brand X: Skylette Airlines in "True & False Drug Dealers", possibly for Cathay Pacific.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Happens to the armed suspects when the SDU deploys snipers in an operation.
  • The Bus Came Back: Tin-yu and his wife return in the final episode of season 1.
  • The Cavalry: Also as a Big Damn Heroes moment. In "Cracking the Drug Den", the SDU team come in just in time to kill the drug dealers as the OCTB officers are cornered and injured.
  • Character Development:
    • In "The Cop Who Stole a Gun", Hok-lai nudges Cheuk-yuen to check in on him after they get word that his sister Madam Chong is pursued by their target, indicating their relationship has become much friendlier after Hok-lai's initial hostility.
  • Character Tic: Cheuk-yuen's wink.
  • Cool Big Sis: Madam Chong/Cheuk-wah to Cheuk-yuen.
  • Cop Killer:
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Madam Chong is a very cool, reserved Senior Inspector. Hon-To defrosts her with a few bumps along the way. In season 2, Chung Wai-yan is also slowly defrosted by Hon-To.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: On a cruise ship in the 1st season finale episode "The King of Thieves Returns".
  • Dirty Cop: The HKPF thinks that Lam Shek-yung in "The Cop Who Stole a Gun" is one since he stole a revolver from the armory. However, he claims that Senior Inspector Chong Chuk-wah is responsible for ruining his career and destroying his marriage, as well as getting drunk, which is why he was "forced" to steal the gun.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Hok-lai is drugged and implied to be sexually assaulted by a Fuerdai, but the whole situation is treated as comedy.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Typical of TVB shows featuring drug use.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Justified since the show is centered mainly on the HKPF's SDU.
  • Face Your Fears: Man-keung manages to get over her fear of heights after a childhood accident in "I Want To Be A Cop" by jumping off the fourth story of the SDU building onto a landing airbag together with Hok-lai.
  • Fake Relationship: Cheuk-yuen and Man-keung pretend to date to deter Wai-wai from pursuing the former. It doesn't work.
  • Father to His Men: Hon-to is this to his team, tough love included.
  • Fiery Redhead: A dyed redhead, but Chung Wai-yan can be pretty fiery nonetheless.
  • Friendly Sniper: Chuk-yuen is one of the friendliest characters, and is noted to be have good relationships with his team and caring with newcomers to the SDU.
  • Fun With Acronyms: The SDU means Special Duties Unit and the OCTB means the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: The SDU are armed with Western-made weapons like Glock 17s, HK MP5 and KAC SR-25s while the bad guys are armed with AK-based rifles and IWI Uzis. The former is justified since the force was created and trained by British police officers stationed in Hong Kong when it used to be a British overseas territory.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Any time a character sports unnatural hair colours, they're a villain character. Cliche but understandable given cultural context that people with dyed hair are sketchy or "MK" (standing for Mong Kok, a district in Hong Kong known for triad associations).
    • Subverted with the episodes "Army Obsession" since the wargamer vigilantes are armed with several airgun versions of the AR-15. That is, until they were somehow able to acquire real gun parts covertly and change their weapons to actual firearms.
  • Gratuitous English: The official DVD English subtitles sometimes fall into this.
  • Handicapped Badass: The all-female team in "Disability Grant" in season 2 features a mute woman, a blind woman, and a woman in a wheelchair, who all manage to hold their own against the SDU team.
  • Hostage Situation: One of the few situations where the SDU gets deployed by the police.
  • Human Shield: A tactic armed suspects usually do when they're in a corner.
  • In-Series Nickname: Besides the usual Cantonese diminutive of "Ah-X" for example Ah-lai for Yu Hok-lai, many characters have other nicknames, especially within the SDU team.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Averted, a majority of the bad guys managed to shoot well that a few SDU operators and OCTB detectives either get killed or are wounded in the course of the show's broadcast.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: In "Disability Grant", four women with various disabilities steal from morally-grey companies in order to donate to organisations in need.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The jewel thieves in "Here Comes the King of Thieves" leave evidence that they were staking out a location for a supposed armored car heist. The SDU and OCTB mobilized to stop it, only for them to find out that the thieves faked the supposed plan in order to rob a small expo where jewels were being showcased.
  • Killed off for Real: A few SDU operators are killed during several of its operations with one of them killed after being kidnapped aside from armed criminals, which reflects Truth in Television about the dangers of being an elite anti-crime/terrorist officer.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Sometimes the SDU uses this whenever they are forced to engage in close quarters. Luckily, they use a pistol with them to ensure that they aren't helpless.
  • Motive Rant: A few suspects do this when they're cornered. Some are a bit justified, while others are just plain crazy.
  • Mundane Utility: In "Uncovering Drugs Den", Alpha Team uses surveillance cameras to determine if Wai-wai is in a relationship with Chuk-yuen or not.
  • Oh, Crap!: Whenever the suspect uses grenades/surprise attacks against the SDU, which sometimes goes to This Is Gonna Suck.
  • Present Day: The show begins in the year 2011.
  • Real Men Cook: Chuk-yuen cooked, cleaned, and took care of his sister after the death of her fiancé, and continues to do so. He also stress cooks after he's denied the job promotion in "Cracking the Drug Den".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: There was initially a bus hijacking case in the final episode, but it was scrapped after producers decided it resembled the 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis.
  • Romantic Wingman: Cheuk-yuen is this for Hon-to. Unfortunately, this doesn't work out as planned.
  • Running Gag: Chong Cheuk-yuen tries to get away from Ting Wai-wai's romantic advances and his plot to mend the fence between her and his superior, Chin Ho-to.
  • Save the Villain: Happens a few times in season 1.
  • Shirtless Scene: Occasional but brief occurrences in the SDU locker room. Notable occurrences in "Disability Grant".
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Standard TVB trope. Chuk-yuen says this during Wai-wai's romantic advances in season 1, and is evidently proven wrong by season 2. Hok-lai has taken on this role in season 2 when asked about his friendliness to Man-keung.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: This sometimes happens when the SDU has a clear shot on the bad guy in a hostage siege and with permission from their commanders.
  • Shown Their Work: The tactics, uniforms and equipment are accurately shown since the Hong Kong Police Force has assisted the actors in their training to act like real SDU officers.
    • The mannerism of the officers in the show, such as the salute and addressing their superiors as "X sir" or "Madam Y", are also accurate since this is how the HKPF operates, which is from the British colonial legacy in the police force from when Hong Kong was a British overseas territory.
    • Using Cantonese and English for obvious reasons. Same goes for Guangdong-based people since they speak Cantonese as another major language in the province aside from Mandarin, because they are geographically near Hong Kong.
    • The portrayal of the Fuerdai in the show from "The 2G Kidnapping Case", although one of them is clearly said to be Japanese. But one can excuse this since the Japanese national may have a Cantonese-speaking mother aside from her Japanese father.
    • "Army Obsession" shows off Hong Kong law where it's mandated that an airgun that fires BBs from more than 2 Joules is illegal for sale/production/use in a wargame. The law currently states that 2 Joules and below is the standard.
  • Slipping a Mickey: A fuerdai spikes the champagne that she pressures Hok-lai to drink, making him more pliant.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Kary, a psychiatrist, and her engineer boyfriend both wear glasses.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Man-keung is the only female member of Alpha Team.
  • Spoiler Opening: Watching the opening and ending credits can shed some lights on what could happen next via scene previews in the next/future episode.
  • Suicide Attack: To Tin-yu in "Here Comes the King of Thieves" forces one of his hostages to don a makeshift suicide vest with a timer and a mobile phone he uses as detonator. Thankfully, the SDU doesn't shoot the hostage and Tin-yu shoves the hostage out of the getaway vehicle.
  • Taking the Bullet: A non-romantic example, Ben takes a bullet for Madam Chong in "Young Criminal",
  • The Lost Lenore: Madam Chong's fiancé who died in an explosion while picking up their rings. His death is the driving motivation for her workaholic, distant tendencies.
  • The Mafia: It's a police procedural set in Hong Kong, so of course there are mentions of the local triad organisations.
  • Title Drop: The title is mentioned several times in each episode.
  • Training from Hell: Getting to the SDU is no easy feat. Training ranges from unarmed combat, proficiency in small arms and on-foot navigation while relying on maps and compasses. It also includes physical feats while in the rain and shooting confidence by shooting at paper target next to the head of your colleagues.
  • Tricked into Signing: Fuk-chai, a neurodivergent man is tricked into signing away his land in "I Want To Be A Cop", an important plot point in the episode as his grandmother has no right to owning indigenous land due to her sex.
  • Urban Warfare: A given since Hong Kong is a city where most of the population live in urban areas, and that the SDU's combat tactics are meant to engage armed criminals and terrorists in the SAR. However, they are also trained to engaged hostiles in the rural parts of Hong Kong as well.
  • Villain of the Week: Part of the show's format, where there's a new criminal or criminal group to pursue every week.