Thursday, 1 May 2014

Glossary for Chinese Language Film


Below are terms and abbreviations I used in my movie reviews. These terms are useful in discussing Chinese language cinema.

SB (邵氏) : Shaw Brothers Film Studio.

Shaw Bros logo

GH (嘉禾) : Golden Harvest Film Studio.

Golden Harvest logo

JC (成龍) : Jackie Chan.

HK (香港) : Hong Kong.

Hongkies (香港人) : Hong Kong's locals. Funny, I know. The word originated from "Hongkongers", I believe. Not to be confused with Honkies.

Xia (俠) : Person, usually a martial artist, lived by the codes of honour, righteousness & gallantry. Not dissimilar to Japanese bushido (武士道).

Nu xia (女: Female xia. I write it as nuxia.

Cheng Pei-Pei in Come Drink with me
Cheng Pei-Pei in Come Drink with me

Jian xia (劍) : A xia who carries a sword. Swordsman or swordswoman.

Jet Li in Hero
Jet Li in Hero

You xia (遊俠) : Wandering, or roving xia. A wandering swordsman. Like ronin in Japan.

Do (道) : "The way", as in "bushido" - the way of the "bushi", which is martial artist in Japanese or "wuxia" in Chinese. Also, judo, and taekwondo.

Wu (武) : Martial. In Japanese, it's 'Bu', as in bushido.

Wuxia (武俠) : Martial xia. Aka swordplay, an action sub-genre.

Wushu (武術) : Martial arts.

Wulin (武林) : 'Martial Forest', the world of martial artists.

Shaolin (少林) : 'Little Forest'. The oldest Chinese martial art establishment.

shaolin monk
Shaolin monk

Wudang (武當) : Second oldest Chinese martial arts school. Founded by Zhang Sanfeng (張三豐). He's also the father of Taijiquan (太極拳 or Tai Chi Chuan in Cantonese). Tai Chi Master (1993), starring Jet Li is a loose biopic of Zhang Sanfeng.

Martial artists practising Wudang wushu
Martial artists practising Wudang wushu

Jianghu (江湖) : 'River, lake'. A fringe society where unattached (not belong to any school) martial artists roam. Sometimes, used interchangeably as 'wulin'. Modern day gangster's term for the underworld where codes of brotherhood and honour are regarded highly.

Kung Fu (功夫) : Cantonese (from HK) slang for 'wushu'. Chinese Mainlanders now also use this word because of the popularity of HK cinema. Also used to denote the kick-boxing sub-genre.

Kungfu : My way of writing 'Kung fu'. It'll get merged one day, like 'bed' and 'room'.

Shifu (師父) : Master/teacher/mentor of martial arts. Literally means "Teacher-Father". The fellow students in a martial art school is addressed each other as brother and sister.

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith in Karate Kid as Sifu and apprentice
Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith in Karate Kid as Sifu and apprentice

Sifu : Cantonese pronounciation of 'shifu'. I use this word.

Qing gong (輕功) : Literally Light Skills, sometimes translated as Light Body Skill, Leaping Skills, to enable martial artists to leap from ground to rooftop in a single bound in wuxia flicks. Don't confuse 'qing gong' with 'qi gong', which is a different form of martial art. Qinggong is more of a martial art skill while qigong is a school of martial art.

This video shows some real-life Wudang qinggong.

Shenmo (神魔) : "Gods and Demons" -  a sub-genre of the Chinese fantasy genre.

Moleitau (無厘頭) : My shorthand for mo-lei-tau. An unique brand of Cantonese humour started with the Hui Bros, refined and popularized by Stephen Chow.

Chollywood : HK film cinema. Chinese language films in general. Not a term in general use, but I try to introduce it.

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