Hex Errors: A clutch of cracked subtitles

Hong Kong films were typically subtitled in both Chinese and English, often very quickly. Multiple gaffes are the inevitable result. Stefan Hammond has quite the collection.

By tradition, Hong Kong films were typically subtitled in both Chinese and English in on-screen prints and on VHS. This has changed as optical discs usually offer various options for subtitles. Translating Chinese into English isn’t simple, and multiple gaffes are the inevitable result. Especially when you are translating at the breakneck pace demanded by cost-conscious HK producers.  This splintering of the Queen’s English adds additional—if unintended— entertainment value for those of us who don’t understand the Cantoflow flying by. More Sex, Better Zen, Faster Bullets collects our favourite “hex errors,” divided into categories, and sprinkled throughout the book.

Screengrab A Chinese Torture Chamber Story

These cracked subtitles have created their own ecosystem, which has included, over the years, phony (overly long and unfunny) subtitles. In late 1998, the New York Times printed a list of purported Chinese translations of Hollywood movie titles. The “translations” came from a humour site and were fake fake fake.

Accept no substitutes!

Every Hex Error in More Sex, Better Zen, Faster Bullets appeared in a Hong Kong film and is reproduced with its original punctuation and (mis)spellings intact. Filmmakers make a greater effort nowadays, but many fans love the old-school cracked subtitles. Original punctuation, capitalization and spelling has been preserved, as has the title of the relevant film. To do otherwise would be cheating. Below is just a small sampling.

Battle Of The Sexes

“I know it, he’s not an idiot, he’s sexual detour”
Black Panther Warriors

“Don’t shout. Balls are not broken yet.”
“Yeah? My iron balls are like marshmallows now!”
Devil Cat

“Catherine is a nasbian!”
—Passionate Killing in the Dream

“I’ll jelled if you ask me out”
—Ghostly Love

A Pox On Thee!

“I promise to punch you less than before”
Give and Take…Oh! Shit!

“You mis-shaped my busts, beat it!”
—Street Angels

“But you, you’re stink”
—Ghost Story ‘Godmother of Mongkok’

Naked Wolfen Lust

“You know I always like little-snaking women.”
The Fruit is Swelling

“I am now going to whore in the coffee shop.”
—Troublesome Night 4

“Sex den, it’s great!”
The Occupant

Wiseguy Wisdom

“I know you, Tony is the nasty bad egg of Japanese triad society!”
Once Upon A Time In Triad Society

“We are progressive rascals. We are making an art film.”
Mahjong Dragon

“Is this your territory?”
“Yes, this is called Street of Copyright Infringement.”

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