What is the deal with all the pirated DVD’s in Hong Kong?

After a quick trip to the Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong, I was able to easily find a store selling hundreds of pirated DVD’s. They had everything from the number one movie right now, Bee Movie, to TV shows that just wrapped up the season like Californication, and even movies that are not yet released like Trade. Just about everything you could want, they have.

I was curious if these movies would actually work, so I decided to try them out for myself. I purchased Bee Movie and tossed in my Macbook Pro. It worked just fine. I did notice a small jump about 15 minutes into the film. It seemed to jump about 20 seconds, but that was the only time. My cousin picked up a few television series to try out. He noticed on Stargate SG1 (He’s a geek) that disc 3 didn’t play. But that could be more of an issue with the Macbook Pro than the DVD itself. We will have to do more testing when we get home.

Other than that, the movies appear to be a little less than normal DVD quality. Obviously we don’t have a full surround sound system to try out 5.1 or anything, but the sound appears to at least in in stereo.

The packaging is pretty funny. They come in flat packs with images taken usually from the poster or other DVD set. The text rarely matches the film correctly. For example, the FX TV show damages is described on the front as “A Good-Hearted Tween Comedy†, and the quote on Clive Owen’s Shoot ‘em Up is “Reese Witherspoon is America’s Movie Sweetheart†. Reese Witherspoon is not in this film.

Another interesting feature of some of these DVD’s is that they often don’t just contain one movie. For example the DVD for Dead or Alive (as I said, he’s a geek) contains not just DOA, but also Crank, The Departed, Storm Breaker, Striking Range, The Covenant, Attack Force, and Flyboys. A pretty good deal for about $3 US.

Most of the DVD’s we purchased were about $3 US each. The box sets of TV shows ranged anywhere from $5 – $10 US. These are pre-haggle dollars, so you can probably save about 20% with some good back and forth.

I don’t know the laws regarding customs, so I’m not going to try to bring a lot of these back to the US with me. I get the feeling that they would just be confiscated. But I may bring a couple for the 14 hour plane ride home. I can knock out the entire British version of the Office in that time!

[tags]pirate, movies, bootleg, doa, dvd, hong kong, temple street, night market, trade, stargate, sg1, californication[/tags]


  1. It’s quite the thriving industry in the far East. Wired Magazine ran a story a few years back about an American guy that set up threedollardvds.com and didn’t hide his domain registration. He didn’t think that the long arm of the law could reach across the ocean. He was wrong. He got busted. The story stated the idea that it was probably a token bust so that China could say, “See, I’m cooperating, now leave us alone.” – and the industry continues.

    I’m in Nanjing and very much looking forward to getting a movie or two while I’m here. No way I’ll try moving them through customs on my way out, but it’s the same price as a rental, so why not. I don’t watch much TV here, so I have no idea what I’m missing stateside. I know a bunch of really good series came out like Life and Dexter. This year’s a good year for TV. (Even if half of our drama comes from detectives and hospitals… yeesh. that’s becoming a media clich’e)

    Personally, I’m not against piracy. Pirating isn’t digging too deeply into the profit margins of the movie making or showing industry. (or the music industry for that matter) I never had the money to blow on a movie, the price of a ticket is like eight bucks, a rental isn’t too bad, but I’ve paid hundreds in late fees. I feel like I’ve paid my due. If I was rich, I’d take my friends out to the movie house. We aren’t though, so we just ramp up a tool like Limewire and download something we can all enjoy on the weekend while we participate in the American tradition of binge drinking. I miss those days.

    Lately, the only thing I make time for is the occasional documentary because I work too much and I don’t have a group of friends like I did back in the states. Earthlings was pretty good, so was Sicko. (Michael Myers redeemed himself for being a jerk in his first documentary, Bowling for Columbine.)

    Gluck with the weight loss ventures, it’s a tougher thing to do than most people realize. I think it mostly boils down to eatting habits. I reach in the fridge, then stop myself and say, “OK, if you’re REALLY hungry, you can just pass the good stuff and reach for that big mountain of pure veggies in the corner.” Eat half a veggie, the will to be hungry isn’t there anymore. Hehe. Food is a weakness of mine.

  2. Klancy, good to see someone break from the Gaempal post!

    I was amazed at the amount of pirated DVD’s. My son is now asking why I didn’t get Smallville for him, which I really should have.

    I have seen Life a few times, my son likes it a lot. But Dexter IMHO is the best show on TV right now. This season is really amazing as well. If you haven’t seen Weeds or Californication yet, those might be worth checking out as well. Although Weeds has gotten a little weaker each season.

    The weight really is a challenge. The first 100 pounds were the easiest, which is kind of a sad statement about how bad my weight got. I am now below 300 again, which is nice. But traveling is always difficult on diets. I have some extra motivation right now though.

    Have a good time in Nanjing.

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