Saturday, 22 May 2010

Ip Man Fail

I just finished watching Ip Man on DVD. It was a good movie, but the subtitles were literally the worst I have ever seen in 20 years of watching many, many subtitled Chinese movies. I'm accustomed to confusing, silly, stilted, and absurd subtitles, but these were simply gibberish. My wife provided a running translation of the Cantonese but the Japanese left us both bemused.

It's hard to convey the awfulness ... None of the characters were named; the names were just translated into English and rendered without capitals, so the protagonist is referred to variously as "leaf teacher" and "leaf ask", his son is rendered as "leaf quasi", another character is just "wood", a villain is "three general", but some characters get names like "LIU2 BAO3". Word order is basically completely random. Martial arts challenges are described as "exchanging views" or "vexing". People kept saying "are you dry" --- I have no idea what that was about. Forget about punctuation.

I'm actually curious about the process that could lead to such terrible results. There's must be fifty million people who could do a better translation, not to mention Google Translate, so how did they end up with someone doing it this badly? Maybe the DVD I borrowed is actually an illegal copy, but why would they make their own subtitles? And surely there are Laotian street kids who can do a better job than this.



9 comments:

  1. Certainly doesn't sound like other subtitled Chinese movies I've seen!

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  2. "are you dry" is probably from "你干嘛", which is Mandarin for "what are you doing", in a rather harsh tone. It's often miswritten as "你干吗" which literally translated is "are you dry".
    Sounds like I won't be watching Ip Man with English subtitles then :)

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  3. That's interesting. I have seen quite a few Cantonese films myself but I haven't really encountered such horrendous translations..

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  4. Go to btjunkie, or pirate bay and check the comments. You'd get detailed info about the subtitle quality and where to download better subtitles if the ones included weren't good enough.
    I think Ip Man 2 was released recently as well. You can wait a year for the dvd release in your area or go watch it now.
    FYI. There is nowhere on my island to buy a legal dvd of any film I've downloaded this year. I'll _probably_ spend about $300+ on legal dvds/blu-rays when I take a vacation up north to Florida... in 2012.

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  5. I remember watching Ip Man at a cinema in Sydney (big chain, too) but I never had a problem with the subtitles - at least, I didn't walk out of the movie thinking wow they were really awful, how'd they screw that up. They made sense and people were named correctly. Sounds like the DVD you have is dodgy.

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  6. The official Australian region DVD has great subtitles, and a special feature by Sifu David Peterson, a former student of Wong Shun Leung who teaches Wing Chun here in Melbourne. I think you got a dodgy disc :)

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  7. If you could give me the Picture of the Disc, the publisher and other extra detail.

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  8. How come the subtitles at the end of mine says "you dont deserve to learn chinese martial arts, including the most illustrious action star of all Bruce Lee." Thats sounds like they were telling everybody thats not full asain shouldnt get to practice chinese martial arts

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