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Glossary of HK Film Terms
A newbie guide to some of the more popular (and even ridiculous)
mentions in HK Cinema and its analysis.

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ATV - Hong Kong's other television studio. Though they have arguably similar programming quality, TVB routinely wipes the floor with ATV, usually doubling or tripling their average ratings points.

Brilliant Idea Group
- Also known as BIG. Writer-director Joe Ma and Mei Ah Film Distribution are the primary forces behind this company.

BOB - Best of the Best film production group. A company formed in the late nineties by director Andrew Lau, writer Manfred Wong, and multi-tasking automaton Wong Jing. BOB was the driving force behind the Young and Dangerous series, as well as Storm Riders and A Man Called Hero. Currently affiliated with StarEast, BOB is best known for their opening credit flourish set to the "Best Partners" tune of Aces Go Places fame.

Cinema City - Formed in the early eighties, Cinema City was behind the the popular Aces Go Places series starring Sam Hui and Karl Maka. Maka was one of the co-founders of the company along with Dean Shek and Raymond Wong Bak-Ming (who would go on to found Mandarin Films). Tsui Hark and John Woo worked for Cinema City earlier in their careers. 

Cop Soap Opera - A term used frequently on this site referring to police films that dramatize the lives of cops and their wives, girlfriends, parents, pets and/or financial difficulties. There are usually bad guys in these films too, but the main focus of the Cop Soap Opera is the existential angst of the modern day Hong Kong cop. Or something like that. See The Final Option, Option Zero, or Expect the Unexpected for examples. 

crap - This term is not a standard Hong Kong term nor is it something that really needs defining. It is, however, very frequently used throughout this website to describe various films. This may apply to a film's empirical quality (i.e., production values or subject matter) or to its overall subjective quality (i.e., the movie is awful). So just because we say Naked Killer is crap doesn't necessarily mean that we think it's a bad movie. However, we think China Strike Force is crap, and that means it sucks.

Feel 100% - a popular comic book about Generation X love and romance in Hong Kong. Since 1996, there have been three movies using the Feel 100% comic as its direct inspiration. The term is used liberally throughout this site to describe just about any modern day comedy dealing with omnipresent Generation X love/romance issues. 
 
flower vase - A term used to describe female film roles which amount to little more than appearing onscreen and looking very pretty. Another term for this would be "scenery."

Goo Wat Jai - The Cantonese term for modern triads, which gets a mention in every other film that comes out nowadays. The Young and Dangerous movies are actually titled Goo Wat Jai 1, 2, 3, ad nauseum. 

gweilo - Literally "Ghost Man." While initially used as a derogatory identifier for Caucasian males (the female version is gweipor), this term has since become not necessarily negative, and has become standard shorthand description for pretty much any Caucasian person in Hong Kong. 

jade girl - A term used to describe the "girl next door" type. Popularly applied to celebrities like Miriam Yeung and Gigi Leung.

Jiang Hu - Also known as "Gong Wu." There is no true English translation for the concept of Jiang Hu, and it's been rendered in subtitles as anything from "The Underworld" to "The World of Martial Arts" to "Emprise's Field" (in Tsui Hark's classic The Blade). Basically, it's a term meant to describe a portion of the world that has its own mores, ideals and social concepts. Think HK's modern Triad societies and you'll get the idea.

Lee Ka-Sing - An important person to mention because his long-acknowledged position as the "richest man in Hong Kong" means he gets a mention in nearly every other Hong Kong film made. For a more direct reference, catch He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father, where Tony Leung Chiu-Wai gives a poor Lee Ka-Sing (Waise Lee) real estate tips, thus insuring Lee's eventual dominance of the real estate trade.

  Milky Way - Well-regarded film production group run primarily by Johnnie To Kei-Fung and Wai Ka-Fai. Primarily the source of Hong Kong's recent internationally acclaimed gangster epics (The Longest Nite, The Mission), the group has added comedies (Needing You) and even smaller independent works (Spacked Out) to their catalog of films.

mo lei tau - "Makes No Sense" is a reasonable translation for this term, which refers to the special brand of comedy made popular by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi. This is comedy made up of non-sequitors, anachronistic fourth-wall references, and lots and lots of Cantonese wordplay. As such, it's nearly impossible to translate into other languages, which is why Stephen Chow was unpopular outside of Hong Kong during the early nineties. 

revealing points - Credit goes to Sanney Leung of HK Entertainment News in Review, who brought us popular English usage of this term used by Hong Kong's notorious entertainment press. The "points" referenced are usually the nipples of female or male celebrities, though it can apparently be applied to other private parts as well.

Sky King - A term applied to certain members of the Hong Kong entertainment circle, specifically Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Leon Lai and Aaron Kwok. The title is an approximation of the literally translated "Heavenly King." It's widely known that there are only four real Sky Kings, though a "Little Sky King" label does pop up occasionally.

Sky Queen - See Sky King. The female equivalent of the "Heavenly Queen." The identities of these women are less established than those of the big four Sky Kings, though unofficial popular consensus seems to dictate that Sammi Cheng, Faye Wong and Kelly Chan are those deserving of the title.

StarEast - The primary people behind BOB (Wong Jing, Manfred Wong) are the instigators of the latest Hong Kong studio which doubles as a management company for Hong Kong's plentiful cast of idols.

Takuya Kimura - When the late nineties Japanese Drama (or Soap Opera) craze hit HK, every other film contained a reference to the popular member of Japanese band SMAP, who also starred in the immensely popular dramas "Long Vacation" and "Love Generation."

triads - For the truly uninitiated, this term may seem unusual but it becomes very familiar very fast. The Triads are Hong Kong's mafia, popularized in movies like Young and Dangerous and A Moment of Romance.

TVB - Hong Kong's primary television station/studio which produces TV serials that are more popular locally than most Hong Kong films. Many popular HK actors got their start at TVB, including the likes of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Maggie Cheung, Chow Yun-Fat and Stephen Chow.

UFO - The United Filmmakers Organization. Founded in the early nineties by filmmakers Peter Chan, Lee Chi-Ngai and Jacob Cheung, producer Claudie Chun, and actor Eric Tsang, the United Filmmakers Organization was responsible for numerous highly regarded HK films of the nineties, most notably He's a Woman, She's a Man and Comrades, Almost a Love Story. UFO's primary focus was sophisticated urban comedy-dramas centering frequently on the "yuppie" population of Hong Kong. UFO was acquired by Golden Harvest in the late nineties and has since been used as a label on the occasional "prestige" project.

wuxia - A genre classification which encompasses certain types of martial arts films which were popularized in novels by authors like Jin Yong (AKA: Louis Cha). The primary crux of these novels/films is usually a costume martial arts story bearing certain iconography (i.e. a revenge plot). Also known as "swordplay" films or "Flying Kung-Fu Movies" for those who like their definitions loose.

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