Eye of the Tiger

It’s not long before Tiger Cage begins dishing out cliches in bunches, mimicking western cinema’s cop drama with a retiring chief on his last day, preparing for a wedding, when he’s gunned down in the street. At best, that’s hokey, but in Hong Kong’s style, it’s wildly, uncontrollably theatrical.

Tiger Cage pre-dates the country’s flashy police procedurals like Internal Affairs, mixing the martial arts choreography with eccentric gunplay. Shoot-outs happen primarily on open streets, civilians ducking for cover in sequences of mass chaos. It’s borderline ludicrous given the danger and pitiful police work, but a treat to watch.

Better films of Tiger Cage’s ilk stage grander fights and wilder stunts

Of the heightened drug war era, Tiger Cage looks inward for the nation’s narcotics trade, following corrupt officials dealing with western traders for a payday. After building camaraderie during a bachelor party, watching this team collapse as they doubt one another’s intentions or frame their friends adds a natural dramatic edge to this story. In an emotionally turbulent twist(s), multiple key characters see their grisly demise, meaning to Tiger Cage, any character is expendable.

Back-and-forth investigations involve a VHS tape holding video of police in illegal deals, a familiar routine that’s less about than the tape than it is a means to setup the action. Better films of Tiger Cage’s ilk stage grander fights and wilder stunts, but that doesn’t demean the work performed here. Some dazzling vehicular strikes, brutal kicks, and frenzied, multi-staged gunfights breed the needed excitement. Better-than-average thematic elements – from botched romance to growing distrust – heighten the impact, doubly so since Tiger Cage doesn’t let anyone feel safe.


Using a thickly-grained film stock, Shout’s encode isn’t necessarily up for the challenge. Grain is reduced to noise frequently, sloppily compressed. This reduces texture overall, although mastering skews toward the softer end of things.

Flattened color reproduction brings minimal spunk to the flesh tones and primaries. Other than Hong Kong’s glowing neons, color looks sparse and dull.

Likewise, black levels don’t shine either, mediocre at their best depth. Contrast fares better, the best part of this merely okay presentation.


The ultimate example of the “tin can” effect, Tiger Cage sounds worse than many budget-less Shaw Brothers productions from the ’70s. There is no range evident in the score, every instrument strained, flat, and at worse, even obnoxious at the highest peaks. Dismal dialog reproduction sounds as if heard between two cans and a string.


Over the dubbed English cut, critic David West offers his thoughts in a commentary. An interview actor Vincent Lyn is following by another with Frank Djeng. Shots from a Taiwanese edit join the various trailers.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Tiger Cage
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A wild anti-drug cop drama mingles with the traditional Hong Kong action flair to make Tiger Cage a genre delight.

User Review
3.5 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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