Hong Kong Movie Terms - Page 5

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rascal - Slang for a Triad member.

red pocket/packet
- In Chinese culture it is customary to give someone a gift of money enclosed in a red envelope on important occasions (birthdays, weddings, etc.). The term is sometimes used in crime movies to describe payoffs/protection money.

Repulse Bay - An upper-class area on the south side of Hong Kong.

rotter - A "rotten" person; used to describe the villain in some films.

roughie - Term for an ultraviolent movie; usually used to describe movies with sexual violence in them (e.g., rape, S&M).

RTHK - Acronym for Royal Television Hong Kong, a public television network that concentrates on producing programs that address social issues.

SAR - Acronym for special autonomous region; what Hong Kong is now termed under Chinese rule since the handover in 1997 whereby the Chinese government agrees to let things run "as they were" for fifty years.

SCMP - The South China Morning Post, a popular newspaper in Hong Kong.

Seven Little Fortunes - A troupe consisting of the best students from of Jim Yuen's Chinese Opera Academy. Members include: Yuen Wah, Corey Yuen Kwai, Yuen Bun, Yuen Tak, Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, and Jackie Chan.

sharper - A card shark (a gambler who cheats to win).

Shaw Bros. - The Shaw Brothers Studio, who were the king of the kung-fu movie during the '60's and '70's. They were notorious for being cheap and signing their stars/directors to long-term contracts.

Shenzen - A Chinese city on the border of Hong Kong; a popular entry point for illegal immigrants and exit for fleeing criminals.

shoe shiner - Someone who "sucks up" to those in power to better themselves; a kiss-up/boot-licker/ass-kisser.

shrimphead - Slang term for a man with a small penis.

sifu - Chinese for "master"; usually used to describe the head of a martial arts school. The Japanese version is referred to as a sensei.

snakehead - Someone who smuggles illegal immigrants to/from Hong Kong.

stained witness - Someone who testifies against a crime boss, and is thus marked (stained) for death.

Stanford database - This was one of the first major internet sites dedicated to Hong Kong movies; it was a searchable database ala the IMDB. It was taken down after Stanford decided the resources needed to be "used for other academic purposes."

squib - Term for a special effect which produces the effect of a bullet hit by electrically shocking a small packet of fake blood.

Suzy Wong - A Chinese woman who seeks out western men (most times servicemen), usually for financial reasons.

sync sound - Using the on-set sound in the final film; this technique was rarely used in HK until a few years ago.

Tai Seng - One of the main importers of HK movies into the US. Many people don't like them because they feel their tapes and DVDs are overpriced and have shoddy quailty, though by most accountsthey have been getting better recently.

tael - A measure of gold which weighs about 1.4 ounces. In modern dollars, they are worth about US$500.

teddy boy - A low level thug.

tape trading - Exchanging copied/bootlegged videotapes for other tapes.

The Two Tonys - Tony Leung Ka-Fai (pictured below left) and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, two of Hong Kong's most popular actors. In regards to their age and size, Ka-Fai is sometimes called "Big Tony," with Chiu-Wai being called "Little Tony." (There is also another Tony Leung in Hong Kong movies, an action director named Tony Leung Siu-Hung.)


Three Brothers - Films starring Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung (pictured left to right below), such as Wheels on Meals and Dragons Forever. The term comes from the fact that they were all "brothers" (classmates) at the same opera school.

three bros

Tianeamen Square Massacre - Refers to the student protests that took place in China in 1989 that ended up in a riot, with the army killing some of the students. Some films (such as Bullet in the Head) make allegoric/symbolic references to this event.

Tolo Harbour - The most polluted body of water in Hong Kong.

Triad - The name for Hong Kong's organized crime families. Originally they started as somewhat honorable revolutionaries in the early 1900's, but found that gun running could make them a lot of money and turned to crime after the revolution. According to The Illuminated Lantern, "The term 'Triad' was given by the Hong Kong government to Chinese secret societies based on the triangular symbol which once represented such societies. The symbol is the Chinese character 'Hung,' encased in a triangle, representing the union of heaven, earth, and man. So Triads even today are sometimes referred to as the 'Hung Society' or the 'Heaven and Earth Society.' The purpose of these societies, it is said, was the overthrow of the Qing [Ching] empire and the restoration of the Ming. The character 'Hung,' in addition to meaning the most auspicious and lucky color 'red,' also alludes to the founder of the Ming Dynasty, Hung Wu."

Triad Boyz - An offshoot of the heroic bloodshed genre started in the mid-1990's that focuses on young Triad members, usually making the Triads seem cool and hip; exemplified by the Young and Dangerous series. Also known as young rascals or goo wat jai movies.

true crime - A genre of films (such as The Untold Story) that are -- sometimes loosely -- based on real events/crimes. Usually they are packed with explicit sex and/or violence.

TST - Short for Tsim Sha Tsui; an area in Hong Kong known for dishonest shopkeepers; the eastern area (TSTE, or Tsim Sha Tsui East) is famous for its clubs, which attract both cops and Triads.

turtle's egg - A derogatory term, as in someone is "lower than a turtle's egg" (turtle eggs are buried in the ground and left by their mother before they hatch).

TVB - Acronym for Television Broadcasting Limited, which is the television arm of the Shaw Bros. studio, where many prestigious Hong Kong film actors and directors got their start.

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