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Chinese Mandarin DVDs Question


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#1 of 12 Bob Ross

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Posted April 06 2002 - 03:36 AM

I am interested in getting Chinese Mandarin movies with English subtitles as a supplement for learning the Chinese language.

I have looked at several Asian DVD web sites (in the U.S.) and most of the movies are from Hong Kong with the audio in Mandarin/Cantonese with English subtitles. I have read that Cantonese is the primary language spoken in Hong Kong. Are most of these Hong Kong videos recorded in Cantonese and dubbed in Mandarin for the second sound track? If so, that would not be desirable for me.

In order to get what I want, I am not sure if I will need a Region 3 (or all region) DVD player. I do not want to incur the extra cost without reason. If the actors in Hong Kong movies speak in Mandarin (i.e., are not dubbed in Mandarin) would there be any reason for getting Region 3 DVDs anyway?

I rented Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on VHS and it worked out well for me. However, I watched it with a Chinese friend and she said that the accents were not the best Mandarin accents. This causes me to wonder if there would be an advantage of Region 3 movies if I could get them. On the other hand, maybe trying to get Region 3 movies would not be worth the trouble.

Comments will be appreciated.

#2 of 12 Peter Jue

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Posted April 06 2002 - 04:09 AM

This sounds like a great way to learn Mandarin!Posted Image Unfortunately, the vast majority (99.9%) of Hong Kong movies are shot with Cantonese and later redubbed in Mandarin. The only films that would have been filmed in Mandarin are films originating from Mainland China or Taiwan. Again, the problem is that the amount of those films pale in comparison to the massive output of Hong Kong.

Getting a region 3 player would not make much sense. The legitimate region 3 releases in Taiwan or Mainland China are usually just Hong Kong movies dubbed in Mandarin only, meaning that it only contains the Mandarin track. Besides, most of those films shot in Mandarin are available on HK region 0 DVD's anyway. Examples are the Peony Pavilion 2 DVD set, Hou Hsiao Hsien's Millennium Mambo, Xiu Xiu, any of Zhang Yimou's films, etc.

You're best bet is to look for region 0/1 releases of films shot in Mainland China or Taiwan, such as The Road Home or Yi-Yi. The only real reason for getting a region free player, in my opinion, is to import R2 Japanese DVD's and R3 Korean DVD's.

#3 of 12 Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 06 2002 - 05:52 AM

Yes, 95% of the films shot in China are Cantonese in Hong Kong. CTHD does not have the best Mandarin accents because none of the actors spoke native Mandarin, and all spoke Cantonese Posted Image

Good for you for not trying to learn off of dubs Posted Image But I'm afraid you're pretty much stuck in that regard. Might I suggest you learn Cantonese instead? Posted Image

#4 of 12 Bob Ross

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Posted April 06 2002 - 10:01 AM

Peter and Jeff,

Thanks for your most helpful responses. No, I do not intend to learn Cantonese also. One language is enough (maybe too much).Posted Image

Thanks for the movie titles Peter. That gives me a good starting point.

#5 of 12 Peter Wong

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Posted April 08 2002 - 02:48 AM

I probably sound foolish mentioning it, but I believe most of Zhang Yimou's films are in mandarin and have been critically hailed. I'm sure you could find Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, and To Live at a local blockbuster.

#6 of 12 Yee-Ming

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Posted April 08 2002 - 04:10 PM

any particular reason why you only want movies shot in Mandarin and not dubbed? of course, there'll be a small lip-sync issue, but I've never found it particularly disturbing; I know Mandarin, but not Cantonese, so I've always watched Hong Kong movies dubbed, and in any case the two are quite similar in terms of structure.

as for accents, I'm no expert but yes, CTHD was particularly bad; however, the dubbed versions of other movies usually use professional dubbing artistes rather than the actual actors (who's Mandarin may not be up to scratch), so accent-wise I've never thought there was a problem with dubbed versions. CTHD is possibly unique in that Chow Yun-Fat personally speaks the Mandarin dialogue, whereas in most other HK movies he's dubbed by someone else. and if I'm not mistaken, often by the same dubbing artiste (at least it sounds like the same guy to me )Posted Image

#7 of 12 Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 09 2002 - 03:41 AM

Because Mandarin is not the language the movie was shot in and intended to be originally seen in. Cantonese is.

Just turn on the subs and listen in Cantonese

#8 of 12 PhilShen

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Posted April 09 2002 - 10:11 AM

Another DVD suggestion: Shower (aka Xizao) - funny & heart warming.

If you aren't aware, there is a subtle difference in the Mandarin accents of people from Taiwan and often different parts of mainland China. So...I guess you'll have to watch movies produced in both places, although "Beijin" accent is supposed to be the most official.

Also, I wouldn't worry too much about the dubbed Mandarin in HK films. AFAIK, even though Cantonese is the main language for HK movies, some of them are looped by the actors or by other voice talents (in effect dubbing themselves).

#9 of 12 Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 09 2002 - 11:11 AM

It's not the point that the movie is not shot synch sound. The point is the original language of the film

Yes, the Bejing accent is the one to learn, just don't expect to be able to speak to everyone, because there are about 1500 major dialects of Mandarin in China Posted Image

#10 of 12 Yee-Ming

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Posted April 09 2002 - 04:47 PM

sorry, I meant that if Bob's intention is to learn Mandarin, does it make that big a difference? I thought
the point is that he wants to listen to accurate Mandarin dialogue with accents of a suitable standard.

I know we all prefer movies with the original language (my personal example would be Nikita, even though I don't understand French, the English dub was just plain awful), but for the purposes of learning Mandarin, save for the lip-sync issue, which is not as severe as say an English dub, wouldn't it serve the purpose?

point taken on accents. although I don't think its accurate to say there are 1,500 dialects of Mandarin, more like 1,500 Chinese dialects (are there that many? I thought it's more like several hundred).

IIRC Mandarin itself is technically a Chinese dialect, same as the rest, but it was "elevated" to becoming the de facto national language, with the rest now considered regional dialects. after all, the written script for all is substantially the same, although usage of certain words may be slightly different.

#11 of 12 PhilShen

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Posted April 10 2002 - 08:12 AM

Quote:
after all, the written script for all is substantially the same, although usage of certain words may be slightly different.
Well... there is the Traditional Chinese (Used in Taiwan still) and the newer Simplified. (Pushed by mainland) IMO it's not the same because I'm only used to one of them. Which does HK use?

#12 of 12 Yee-Ming

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Posted April 10 2002 - 04:28 PM

IIRC, strangely a bit of a mix. they used to use traditional, but with China taking over I think they're moving towards simplified.

the "difference" is more a political issue, with China having decided to simplify the script, and Taiwan (for obvious reasons) refusing to follow suit.

actually, once you know the basic principles behind how script was simplified, you can usually figure out what the equivalent character was (either way).