Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Elektra: Forever the Dead Soldier is Wicked

Reader TK emailed me about Elektra DVD's cover starring Jennifer Garner.

At first I thought the cover was a Chinese bootleg copy due to its poor translation, then I realized it was a legit copy on sale at

The English title says "She's all that stands between good and evil", but the characters are translated as "Forever the dead soldier is wicked", which sounds like a caption for a zombie movie.

I am also wondering if the "wicked dead soldier" was referring to Jennifer Garner.

= forever; eternal
= die; dead; death
= fighter; soldier; warrior
= evil, wicked, bad, foul


  1. >I am also wondering if the "wicked dead soldier" was referring to Jennifer Garner.

    Yes. She died in Daredevil. In this movie she comes back to life. I guess she's wicked.

  2. I'm pretty sure it applies to Elektra herself. She dies a couple of times in the comic books, much like in the Daredevil movie. Each time rising to dispense wicked justice... Or so you'll hear. I thought the comics were kind of dumb, but the concepts were good.

  3. Tian,

    Even though your word-by-word translation indicates that this Chinese writing seems to really have some legitimate meaning, the fact remains that this is still a nonsensical gibberish written by someone with absolutely no knowledge of the language. Because this is not how a Chinese sentence is composed. A phrase like the one on this DVD cover never exists. You cannot put random words together, even though their meanings may be related, and hope they form a coherent and comprehensible sentence. A counter-example would be if someone who knows little English takes a phrase like "home sweet home" and rewrites it as "residence sugary residence" Even though "home" = "residence" and "sweet" = "sugary", you simply can't change the wording of the phrase like that. Certain words are to be used in conjunction with certain words under certain circumstances only. This is the same in every language.

    I've seen you do this kind of word-for-word translation a lot, but it's not enough. A language is not made up of words, but *correct constructions* of words.

    To be fair, there was recently a LeBron James Nike commercial featuring a Chinese theme, and I was stunned to see that all the Chinese phrases shown on the screen were not only syntactically correct and thematically relevant, but quite literate too. They were obviously written by people who know what they were doing. Maybe you should put up some screenshots of those and praise them a little.


  4. Kevin,

    These are just random phrases on the DVD cover, not necessarily to have any siginificant meaning.

  5. Tian,

    Sorry about the multiple posts before and thanks for deleting them.

    In regard to your point, when words are placed next to one another either vertically or horizontally the way they are done on this DVD cover, I take it to be a sentence. Hence, I expect some semblance of a sentence, meaning correct wording and proper sentence construction. These are not some random words placed haphazardly in the background. They are words that are grouped together, with a specific meaning that the cover designer wished to convey but clearly didn't know the proper way to word it.


  6. Tian,

    To illustrate my point, this is the way "a wicked soldier, forever dead" should've been written:


    An actual Chinese sentence that make sense.


  7. Kevin,

    I agree with you on "when words are placed next to one another either vertically or horizontally, they should be considered as a sentence", and they should follow proper sentence structure.

    Sometimes they are so poorly done (ie. this DVD cover), the only way to understand them is pieces the broken phrases and words together.

  8. haha. My Japanese teacher would always tell me about really poorly translated tatoos and stuff. it really cool that someone dedicated a blog to them.

    you have my deepest respect Tian.

  9. It occurs to me that instead of a sentence, it could just be four simple phrases/words: Eternity. Death. Warrior. Evil.

    Why should they be combined into a sentence, when they are clearly just meant to be an exotic backdrop? At least they are mostly well-formed.

  10. Tian,

    Thanks so much for addressing this "Elektra" issue! I am a student of Japanese, and even though I am self-taught I noticed all of the errors you pointed out on the "Elektra" DVD cover. Your blog is awesome; がんばって! (in case you can't read it or it does not show up, that's Japanese for "don't stop!" or "don't give up!", pronounced 'ganbatte')

    In Japanese, the correct form would be something like this: 永遠な死んだ戦士が悪いです。(literally translated, "The eternal soldier who dies is evil.")

    Keep up the good work,
    Kaizoku (海賊)

  11. Tian, you're so cool because you give everyone the benefit of the doubt as you calmly, casually point out what dumbasses they are without sounding like you're going out of your way to do it (as opposed to, for example, every other "comment" poster on this site).

    As for Kevin, get a grip. Yes a foreign language, even Chinese, needs to have correct syntax as well as properly formulated characters... DUH... no one needs that pointed out. Tian is making an effort here to understand what they WANTED to say, not pointing out every tiny mistake made in syntax or PUNCTUATION (what, is that up next?).

    This is going out on a limb, but Tian must be an older guy... at least mid-20's... whereas most every other poster on this site seems more like around 15-16 when they take every opportunity to point out what they learned in their HS Japanese class (thanks for the translation by the way, Kaizoku).


  12. I did not know mid-20's is considered "old" or "older".

    Perhaps I should start using the line,

    "excuse me, ma'am, could you tell me where the highschool girls hang out at?"

    by Vince Vaugh in the movie Swingers.