Tigertail (film)

Last updated
Tigertail poster.jpg
Official poster
Directed by Alan Yang
Written byAlan Yang
Produced by
  • Charles King
  • Kim Roth
  • Poppy Hanks
  • Alan Yang
CinematographyNigel Bluck
Edited byDaniel Haworth
Music by Michael Brook
Distributed by Netflix
Release date
  • April 10, 2020 (2020-04-10)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

Tigertail is a 2020 American drama written and directed by Alan Yang. The film stars Tzi Ma, Christine Ko, Hayden Szeto, Lee Hong-chi, Kunjue Li, Fiona Fu, Yang Kuei-mei, James Saito and Joan Chen.


Tigertail was released on April 10, 2020, by Netflix.


Pin-Jui is a young boy from a poor family living in Huwei ("tiger tail"). His father died when he was a year old, so his mother sent him to live with his grandparents who work in a rice field removed from Huwei. There, he meets a similarly aged girl, Yuan Lee, from a wealthy family. They spend an idyllic few years together, but after he returns to Huwei, he loses touch with her.

Years later, after Pin-Jui and Yuan have grown into young adults (Hong Chi-Lee and Yo-Hsing Fang), they reconnect in Huwei and begin an intense romance. Pin-Jui feels they can never marry, however, because of the economic disparity of their families. During this time, he works at the same factory as his mother, Minghua (Yang Kuei-mei), doing manual labor.

The boss of the factory tells Pin-Jui that he has heard that Pin-Jui wants to go to America, to which the teen replies it is his dream. The boss tells Pin-Jui to meet his daughter Zhenzhen (Kunjue Li as young Zhenzhen). During dinner, Pin-Jui and Zhenzhen make small talk but seem unable to connect. After dinner, Pin-Jui rushes to see Yuan, who wonders why he is late. Pin-Jui lies that he was just at home and forgot the time. Afterwards, Pin-Jui shows Yuan his home. One day at the factory, Minghua gets into an accident and hurts her hand. This prompts Pin-Jui to marry Zhenzhen so that he can move to America and provide a better life for his mother.

Pin-Jui and Zhenzhen get into a car for the airport, and while riding, he sees a woman who looks like Yuan seeing him.

After moving to America, the couple move into a small apartment, and Pin-Jui gets a job working at a grocery store. Zhenzhen stays at home and cleans. Feeling lonely, she begins doing small loads of laundry to see other people. She eventually meets Peijing, another Taiwanese woman, at the laundromat and they become friends. While hanging out, Zhenzhen confides in Peijing that she doesn't connect with Pin-Jui and wants to become a teacher. Peijing tells her that they will begin to connect over time and encourages her to pursue a teaching career. While Zhenzhen is at dinner, Pin-Jui calls his mother and tells her she can come to America. His mother declines, however, saying she likes it in Taiwan and neither speaks English nor has friends in America. After coming home from dinner with Peijing, Zhenzhen finds Pin-Jui at home, where he immediately asks where she has been. Zhenzhen tells him she was having dinner with Peijing and that she wants to become a teacher. Pin-Jui discourages her from pursuing teaching, thinking she will have little time to take care of the children they will have. Though she tells him that they do not have kids yet, she gets pregnant soon after, and they move out of their small apartment.

Pin-Jui (Tzi Ma as the older Pin-Jui) and Zhenzhen (Fiona Fu as the older Zhenzhen) have a daughter, Angela (Christine Ko). Growing up, the father and his daughter have an estranged relationship. In a flashback, Angela forgets part of the song she plays at a piano recital, to the embarrassment of her parents. She cries in the car on the way home, and Pin-Jui tells her crying will not solve anything. After the children are grown up, Zhenzhen tells Pin-Jui she wants a divorce because she feels Pin-Jui treats her like a servant and seems to care only for himself.

Angela moves into an apartment with her fiance Eric (Hayden Szeto), and her father visits her there. He expresses reservations about Eric, saying her fiance does not work as hard as Angela.

Later, Angela picks up her father from the airport, as he has returned from a trip to Taiwan to attend his mother's funeral. She did not know he went to Taiwan and asks why he did not tell her about the funeral. He tells her that she did not know her grandmother. After Pin-Jui is dropped off at home, his ex-wife calls him to say Angela has been having a hard time at work. Pin-Jui says he did not know and Zhenzhen asks for him to connect with her more.

Pin-Jui asks to have lunch with his daughter, and they spend most of it in silence. She eventually says Eric left her, but feels Pin-Jui does not comfort her. She leaves the lunch abruptly in frustration.

One day, Pin-Jui looks up Yuan (Joan Chen) on Facebook and they begin messaging. When she comes to New York from Maryland, they decide to meet at a Chinese restaurant. They talk about the past and missed opportunities and she says she is happily married, and he admits his difficulties in connecting with his daughter. She suggests that he open up to Angela about his life.

Angela hosts a Chinese New Year party for family and friends. Her mother, now a teacher, attends with a new partner, who clearly makes her happier than Pin-Jui did. After the party, Pin-Jui stays to his daughter's surprise and opens up about his tragic past. He eventually takes her to Taiwan — including his hometown — and begins to tell his life story.



In May 2018, it was revealed that Alan Yang would write and direct Tigertail, for Netflix, [1] making it his directorial debut. [2] In August 2018, John Cho, Christine Ko, Tzi Ma, Kunjue Li, and Hayden Szeto joined the cast. [3] [4] [5] In September 2018, Joan Chen, Lee Hong-chi, Yo-Hsing Fang, Fiona Fu, Margot Bingham, Yang Kuei-mei, and James Saito were announced as the rest of the cast. [6] In February 2019, Jessica Gomes announced on her Instagram as part of the cast. [7]

Principal photography commenced on August 27, 2018, in New York and Taiwan. [8] During post-production on the film, Cho's scenes were cut. [9]


The film was released on Netflix and in select theatres on April 10, 2020. [10]

Critical reception

Tigertail received positive reviews from film critics. As of July 2020, 81% of the 74 reviews compiled on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, and have an average score of 6.98/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Uneven yet revealing, Tigertail offers a well-acted -- and ultimately valuable -- look at the immigrant experience in America." [11] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 65 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [12]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Hole</i> (1998 film) 1998 Taiwanese film

The Hole, also known as The Last Dance, is a 1998 Taiwanese drama-musical film directed by Tsai Ming-liang. It stars Yang Kuei-mei and Lee Kang-sheng.

<i>Boxer from Shantung</i> 1972 Hong Kong film

The Boxer from Shantung is a 1972 Hong Kong kung fu film directed by Chang Cheh and Pao Hsueh-li, and starring Chen Kuan-tai, Ching Li and guest stars David Chiang.

Simplified Wade, abbreviated SW, is a modification of the Wade–Giles romanization system for writing Standard Mandarin Chinese. It was devised by the Swedish linguist Olov Bertil Anderson (1920–1993), who first published the system in 1969. Simplified Wade uses tonal spelling: in other words it modifies the letters in a syllable in order to indicate tone differences. It is one of only two Mandarin romanization systems that indicate tones in such a way. All other systems use diacritics or numbers to indicate tone.

Tyzen Hsiao

Tyzen Hsiao was a Taiwanese composer of the neo-Romantic school. Many of his vocal works set poems written in Taiwanese Hokkien, the mother tongue of the majority of the island's residents at the time. His compositions stand as a musical manifestation of the Taiwanese literature movement that revitalized the island's literary and performing arts in the 1970s and 1980s. Hsiao's career in music included additional success as a pianist and conductor.

Cho Jung-tai

Cho Jung-tai is a Taiwanese politician. He served on the Taipei City Council from 1990 to 1998, when he was first elected to the Legislative Yuan. Cho remained a legislator through 2004, when he was appointed deputy secretary-general to the president during the Chen Shui-bian administration. During Frank Hsieh's 2008 presidential bid, Cho assumed the post of Secretary-General of the Democratic Progressive Party. He returned to public service in 2017, as secretary-general of the Executive Yuan under Premier William Lai. In 2019, Cho succeeded Tsai Ing-wen as leader of the Democratic Progressive Party. He remained leader of the party until May 2020, when Tsai resumed the role.

The Empress of the Dynasty is a Taiwanese television series based on the life of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. Directed by Li Yueh-fung and produced by Lin Hui-chun, the series starred Angela Pan as Wu Zetian. It was first broadcast in Taiwan on CTV from 18 November 1985 to 10 January 1986.

<i>The Crossing</i> (2014 film) 2014 Chinese film

The Crossing is a two-part 2014 Chinese-Hong Kong epic historical romance-war drama and disaster film directed by John Woo and written by Hui-Ling Wang. The film stars Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Song Hye-kyo, Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Masami Nagasawa. The film is based on the sinking of the steamer "Taiping" in 1949. The incident led to the deaths of over 1,500 passengers and crew. The film's first part was released in China on December 2, 2014. Part two was released on July 30, 2015.


Boysitter is a 2014 Taiwanese romantic-comedy television series created and produced by TVBS. Starring Annie Chen, River Huang, Melvin Sia as the main leads with Nita Lei, Yang Qing and Gao Shan Feng as the main supporting cast. The original title literally translates to "Pretty Woman Grabs First Marriage". Filming began on August 2014 and wrapped up in November 16, 2014. First original broadcast began on December 6, 2014 on both TVBS and CTV airing every Saturday night at 9:00-10:00 pm.

Events from the year 2016 in Taiwan.

The Rain of Sorrow is a 1965 Taiwanese film directed by Wang Yin, based on Chiung Yao's 1964 novel Fire and Rain. The film stars Wang Yin himself, as well as 21-year-old Gua Ah-leh in her acting debut.

Lee Fu-tien is a Taiwanese lawyer and politician.

<i>Where the Wind Settles</i> 2015 Taiwanese film

Where the Wind Settles is a 2015 Taiwanese historical period film directed by Wang Toon. Spanning the years from 1949 to 2010, the film chronicles the lives of several mainland Chinese people who resettled in Taiwan near the end of the Chinese Civil War.

Tsai Jui-yueh

Tsai Jui-yueh was a Taiwanese dancer and choreographer regarded as the mother of modern dance in Taiwan.

<i>Kingdom</i> (South Korean TV series) 2019 political period horror thriller series on Netflix

Kingdom is a 2019 South Korean political period horror thriller streaming television series, created and written by Kim Eun-hee and directed by Kim Seong-hun and Park In-je. It is Netflix's first original Korean series, which premiered on January 25, 2019. The series is adapted from the webcomic series The Kingdom of the Gods, which was authored by Kim Eun-hee and drawn by Yang Kyung-il. Set on a fictional, medieval-inspired Joseon, Kingdom explores the story of a Crown Prince, as he sets to investigate the source of a mysterious plague that begins to ravage his country. It stars Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, Bae Doo-na, Kim Sang-ho, Kim Sung-kyu and Kim Hye-jun.

Chen Chi-chung Politician of Taiwan

Chen Chi-chung is a Taiwanese politician. He is the Minister of Council of Agriculture since 14 January 2019 after being the acting Minister since 4 December 2018.

<i>The World Between Us</i> (Taiwanese TV series)

The World Between Us is a 2019 Taiwanese television series written by Lu Shih Yuan and directed by Lin Chun Yang. The series follows the aftermath of a mass shooting at a movie theatre and the fates of all involved: the killer, the victims, the victims' families, the media, and the legal defense team. Contemporary Taiwanese social issues are explored, such as the death penalty, mental health stigmas, journalism ethics, and media sensationalism.

<i>Crash Landing on You</i> 2019–2020 South Korean television series

Crash Landing on You is a 2019–2020 South Korean television series written by Park Ji-eun, directed by Lee Jeong-hyo and starring Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Kim Jung-hyun and Seo Ji-hye. It is about a South Korean chaebol heiress who, while paragliding in Seoul, South Korea, is swept up in a sudden storm, crash-lands in the North Korean portion of the DMZ, and meets a captain in the Korean People's Army. Over time, they fall in love, despite the divide and dispute between their respective countries.

<i>The Jade Pendant</i> 2017 film

The Jade Pendant is a 2017 American Western film directed by Leong Po-Chih and starring Godfrey Gao as Tom Wong, Clara Lee as Peony, following a tragic love story leading to the largest mass lynching in American history, of 19 Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles' Chinatown, in 1871.

The Anti-Infiltration Act is a law regulating the influence of entities deemed foreign hostile forces on the political processes of the Republic of China, including elections and referendums. The act was passed by the Legislative Yuan on 31 December 2019 and promulgated by the Tsai Ing-wen presidential administration on 15 January 2020.

The Central Epidemic Command Center is an agency of the National Health Command Center (NHCC). It has been activated by the government of Taiwan for several disease outbreaks, such as the 2009 swine flu pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. The head of the agency is Chen Shih-chung, the minister of Health and Welfare. The CECC is associated with the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.


  1. "Casting call seeks Taiwanese actors for 'Tigertail'".
  2. Davis, Rebecca (April 9, 2020). "Alan Yang's Directorial Debut 'Tigertail' Tells a Timely Immingrant Story". Variety.com. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  3. Kit, Borys (August 23, 2018). "John Cho, Alan Yang Team for Drama 'Tigertail' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  4. Haring, Bruce; D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 24, 2018). "Christine Ko To Play Lead, Kunjue Li Boards Netflix Feature 'Tigertail'".
  5. "John Cho to star in Netflix's 'Tigertail' from Alan Yang". UPI.
  6. Donnelly, Matt (September 12, 2018). "Alan Yang Sets Supporting Cast for Netflix Original Film 'Tigertail' (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  7. "Jessica Gomes Shares the Huge Fashion Trend She's Loving Right Now". E! News. 28 February 2019. Retrieved 2020-02-02.
  8. McNary, Dave (August 23, 2018). "John Cho, Alan Yang Team on Drama 'Tigertail' for Netflix".
  9. Alex Jung, E (March 26, 2020). "Alan Yang's Tigertail Is a 'Fever Dream' of His Father's Immigration Story". New York . Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  10. Yang, Alan (March 4, 2020). "Tigertail, my first feature film, comes out April 10 on Netflix and in select theaters. (1/7)". Twitter . Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  11. "Tigertail". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  12. "Tigertail Reviews". Metacritic . Retrieved April 18, 2020.