Translation and Language Industry Observations

You have most probably heard of Hollywood and maybe even Bollywood…but what about Chinawood, the aptly given nickname for the Chinese film industry?

Did you know that Chinawood is the second largest movie market globally after the United States and boasts a staggering 60,079 movie theater screens across the country compared with 40,000 in the USA? Clearly an indication that the country values movies and its own movie making capabilities.

But what do we know about the Chinese film industry? We know that China produces a vast quantity of films; both for native audiences and dubbed for international release. Audiences seem to have developed a fascination for beautifully choreographed martial arts movies or perhaps they just like the idea of knocking a gigantean man down… Whatever the reason, we can all agree that our affair with Chinawood is only just starting.

But we would be mistaken to think that all Chinawood films are recorded in Mandarin. Surprisingly, many of the most well-known films from bygone eras were originally recorded in Cantonese and later covered with Mandarin voice overs. For example, Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon’ was originally recorded in Cantonese and later dubbed into Mandarin so it could be localized for a larger audience. In fact, Bruce Lee films were often a global hit leading them to be dubbed again using an English voiceover… or more correctly, an American voiceover. Thank you National General Companies for bringing us Bruce Lee films and allowing the non-mandarin speaking world to enjoy Lee’s martial arts magic.

Even Jackie Chan’s mother tongue was Cantonese and not Mandarin. The now world-renowned actor had to learn to speak Mandarin. Thank goodness that Chan learnt Mandarin, as well as learning English, as it is hard to imagine Chinawood and Hollywood without the antics of Jackie Chan.

In fact, Chan’s lingual diversity could be the key to his wider success, with the actor earning a great reputation for his voice overs in animation, such as The Kung Fu Panda. Although Kung Fu Panda may be remembered by some for Jack Black’s American voice-over, I think we can all agree that Jackie Chan’s brilliant voice over as Master Monkey is equally as memorable.  Jackie Chan’s voice not only brings Master Monkey to life by injecting humor and liveliness into this cheeky chappie but also succeeds in making the character far more enjoyable for audiences.

However, Jackie Chan’s animated antics don not stop there. Did you know that Chan voiced Mr Feng in The Nut Job 2? Chan was perfect in his portrayal of the small yet lethal Mafia Mouse, who- by the way- just happens to be a master of martial arts!

But we can’t simply limit our appreciation of Chinawood to martial combat films. Chinawood has ventured much further afield and collaborated to produce popular Hollywood hits, such as The Meg. The Meg proved popular at cinemas and amassed sales of over $44.5 million in its opening weekend in the US and further exceeded expectations with global sales of over $140 million, proving that the Chinese film industry can make its mark on more than just martial arts films.

The final flourish for Chinawood and China in general would have to lie in its breath-taking filming locations. We all know that the Great Wall is shot on the great wall of China, but did you know that some of the most spectacular scenes from Avatar are shot in Zhangjiajie national park in China? And let’s not forget Mission Impossible 3, also shooting a film scene in the beautiful water town of Xitang, a water filled paradise.

Whatever your fascination with the Chinese film industry may be, it is hard to deny the offerings of this predominantly Mandarin speaking nation. So, whether you are interested in acquiring fantastic Mandarin voiceover talent to help grow your business or order professional Mandarin document translation services, China definitely is not a market to be ignored.

The article is written by Voice Talent Online. Founded in 2003, Voice Talent Online is a voice over agency, video translation and subtitling company in the United Kingdom. We localize everything a company might need – whether a complete video translation package, a series of e-learning modules, a TV commercial or a video game voice over. We work in over 90 languages with over 1,500 hand-selected voice talents ensuring our customers can operate in new language markets with ease.

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