One of the greatest action movies of the 80s, Robocop is a gritty and violent story about the creation of a cyborg cop who becomes increasingly self-aware of himself and his past. Like most 80s action movies it’s full of one-liners and memorable quotes. Almost every sentence from the movie could have been included here, but I did my best to chose the most memorable. It should also go without saying, that if you’ve not seen the movie, beware that there are spoilers below.
The audio for the Mandarin dub of Robocop was different than the subtitles, so while it was interesting to see how the English was translated, in some cases it was even more interesting to compare the difference between the Mandarin audio and the subtitles. I’ve favoured the subtitle as the main translation, but if the dub differed, or had a more interesting translation, that has been included, too.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on the Robocop theme tune and dig in.
Old Detroit has a Cancer
The “old man” describes the problem with Old Detroit.
Old Detroit has a cancer
Dǐtèlǜ jiùchéngqū yǒu yīgè wánzhèng
In the subtitle, the word for a stubborn illness is used 顽症（wánzhèng）rather than specifically cancer. While the dub says that Old Detroit “has got cancer” 得了癌症 （déle áizhèng）.
The Future of Law Enforcement
Dick Jones is proud to introduce the results of his ED209 program.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the future of law enforcement, ED209
hěn róngxìng wèi nín jièshào fǎlǜ zhíxíng de wèilái ED209
Wǒ hěn róngxìng yǔ xiàng nǐmen jièshào wǒmen wèilái de zhífǎ rényuán ED209
The subtitle is more similar to the English here – “The future of law enforcement” 「法律执行的未来」versus “Our future law enforcement officer/employee” 「我们未来的执法人员」.
20 Seconds to Comply
The ED209 demo goes awry.
Please put down your weapon, you have 20 seconds to comply
Xiàn nǐ zài èrshí miǎo nèi fàngxià wǔqì
Qǐng nǐ fàngxià nǐ de qiāng gěi nǐ èrshí miǎo zhōng zhào fǎ
The voice of ED209 was laughable on the Mandarin dub, and the translation, while close to English, doesn’t seem as robotic as the subtitle version, which reads “You have a limit of 20 seconds to put down your weapon”, a lot more concise than the dub.
Jones’ failed demonstration disappoints the old man.
Dick, I’m very disappointed
Wǒ duì nǐ tài shīwàngle, díkè
Jones, 我非常遗憾（Jones, 我非常遺憾）
Jones, wǒ fēicháng yíhàn
Another difference between the subtitles 失望 “disappointed” and the dub 遗憾 “regretful”.
Can You Fly?
Clarence uses an injured gang member as a projectile.
Can you fly, Bobby?
Bào bó, nǐ huì fēi ma?
Great example of 會 here, meaning “can”, or in other words “able to”.
Dead or Alive
One of Murphy’s many catchphrases.
Dead or alive, you’re coming with me
Bùlùn nǐ sǐ háishì huó, wǒ dū yào dài nǐ zǒu
Bùguǎn sǐhuó, děi gēn wǒ zǒu
Neither as catchy as the original English, though the dub sounds a lot better than the subtitle. A couple of very useful words here 不論 and 不管, both meaning “no matter if/what”.
Bob Morton expresses his opinion about the future of his project 😉
You’re gonna be a bad mother fucker
Nǐ huì chéngwéi wēilì wúdí de jīqìrén
Nǐ zhēnshi gè kě pà de jīqì
Neither Chinese translations as raw as the English, and the dub is downright hilarious “You’re a really scary robot”. The subtitle a little better with “You’re going to become a powerful unrivaled robot”.
It is my great pleasure to present to you, Robocop
Hěn róngxìng xiàng dàjiā jièshào jīxiè zhàn jǐng
Jīntiān wǒ yǒuxìng de xiàng gèwèi jièshào jīqìrén jǐngchá
Here we find out Robocop’s name in Chinese. The subtitle calling him 机械战警 Machine Battle Cop, with the dub opting for the simpler Robot Police Officer 机器人警察.
Robocop’s job description.
Prime directives 行为准则（行為準則 Xíngwéi zhǔnzé）
The Mandarin here translates as “code of conduct”.
1. Serve the public trust
2. Protect the innocent
3. Uphold the law
First day on the job.
Your move creep
gāi lún dào nǐ
The Chinese here literally being “your turn”.
I’d Buy That For a Dollar
The famous line that is heard throughout the movie on some obnoxious TV show.
I’d buy that for a dollar
Wǒ yào yòng yī měiyuán mǎi gè měinǚ
Bù gěi qián, wǒ yě xià dān
The subtitle here opted for a close to literal translation of “I want to spend one dollar to buy a beautiful woman”. The dub I’m not sure, it wasn’t very clear and that’s the best I could make out, it translates back into English something like “I wouldn’t pay for it, but I’ll still order one”. I’ll just leave it at that.
Quite straightforward “put down your weapon”.
We killed you!
wǒmen shāle nǐ
I’ll Double it
Bob Morton begs for his life.
Whatever he’s paying you, I’ll double it
tā gěi nǐ duōshǎo, wǒ gěi nǐ liǎng bèi
倍 is a multiplier, so saying 兩倍 means twice as much, 三倍 three times, and so on.
There’ll be Trouble
It’s a bust!
Come quietly, or there will be trouble
màn man xiàlái, bùrán huì yǒu máfan de
Gēn wǒ zǒu, bié zì zhǎo máfan
I much prefer the dub here, which uses the saying 自找麻烦, which means “to cause trouble for yourself”. The translations are also a little bit different, the subtitle saying “otherwise （不然） there’ll be trouble”, and the dub “Don’t（別） cause trouble for yourself”.
Robocop learns he’s no different than a microwave.
You’re our product
nǐ shì wǒmen de chǎnpǐn
Very useful word 产品 for “product”.
Erase That Mistake
Dick Jones incriminates himself.
I had to kill Bob Morton because he made a mistake, now it’s time to erase that mistake
wǒ shā bàobó mòdùn yīnwèi tā fànle gè cuòwù, xiànzài yào qīngchú zhè cuòwù
The Chinese translation is exactly the same as the English. 错误 means “mistake”, and 清除 means “eliminate”.
Prime Directive Conflict
My program will not allow me to act against an officer of this company
wǒ me chéngxù bù yǔnxǔ wǒ jūbǔ gōngsī de gùyuán
Another close translation, with the most useful word probably being to ‘allow’ 允许.
Dick Jones signs on for unemployement benefits.
Dick, you’re fired!
Díkè, nǐ bèi jiěgùle!
Nǐ bèi kāi chúle!
Two ways to say ‘fired’ here: 解雇 and 开除, well the latter means ‘to be kicked out’.
Nice shooting son, what’s your name?
法 means a method or way, short for 方法, so 好枪法 is literally “good gun method”, or “nice shooting”.