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"I wonder why Japanese people keep moving their mouths when they're through talking."

A dub of a live-action film that deals with Lip Lock by paying little or no attention to Mouth Flaps, such that the characters' voices typically begin and/or end out of sync with their mouth movements, and rarely match them when the two happen at the same time. The result is often an unintentional Gag Dub. Nowdays, it is often still present in advertisements.

Also called the "Hercules Dub" for its appearance in movies based (loosely) on Roman mythology imported from Italy during the 1960s, particularly the various "Hercules" movies starring Steve Reeves. In the case of these old Italian films it's a problem even in the original language. Most older Italian films were shot MOS and dubbed, before good ADR techniques existed.

Common in any parody of Chop Sockey movies or Japanese Toku.


Straight Examples:

  • Just watch these clips from the movie Hard Gun. Epic Fail from the dubbers.
  • Many of the English dubs produced by Animax Asia (via Red Angel Media) suffer from this. Not to mention, the dubs are actually recorded in Hong Kong.
  • Observed in Rita Repulsa in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. This was even preserved in the movie, where they actually could have avoided it, for the Camp value.
  • Every non-Japanese dub of Akira suffers from this, owing to the fact that unlike most anime, the Japanese voices were recorded first and the mouths drawn to match.
  • This (among other things) happens at times in the Hong Kong-produced dubs of Transformers Headmasters, Masterforce, and Victory which aired on Malaysian television.
    • The Hungarian dub of Transformers Armada is comparable to these, save for the fact that it has proper, professional, and not all-that-bad voice actors, who simply happen to not give a damn about the whole cartoon (understandable), and have a hard time paying attention to mouth movements.
      • That goes for the first 30 episodes or so. The dub vastly improved once the cartoon itself began to make sense.
  • In Elviras Haunted Hills, everybody talks normally except for one badly-dubbed character. Lampshaded when Elvira turns to the camera to ask, "How does he do that?"
  • Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army manages to do this with text. However, to its credit, it's not noticeable until the lip flaps do match up, such as when a character says a name, which remains unchanged (this is easiest to spot with the name "Raidou"). As it is in text, it is not at all jarring unless one is anal-retentive about it.
  • Fairly common in Brazilian dubs of Mexican soup-operas (take in consideration Spanish is only slightly similar to Portuguese). But then again, it's more likely to be a conspiration against such overdone and boring plots, as the voice actors and dub directors themselves say that they prefer to dub action movies and anime, for being more dynamic.
  • Dingo Pictures animations are infamous for having horrible lip sync. However, this trope is taken to the extreme by even original language having bad lip sync, let alone dubs.
  • Done in Shaolin Soccer, which only enhances the utter absurdity of the movie to epic cheese levels.
  • Pippi Longstocking suffers from this in English, since Swedish has visibly different vocal movements from English.
  • The Serbian dub of Tokyo Mew Mew is notorious for having very low production value and poor lip-syncing. Some lines are at least 3 seconds off in both "too early" and "too late"! It got worse as it went on, although it got better around episode 30. Unfortunately, it was not to last, as it got bad again about 10 episodes later!
    • The Portuguese dub of the second half of the series was also bad with lip syncing, although the voice actors sounded more professional than the Serbian actors (all 4 of them!).
  • The Italian dub of the first season of House suffers from this a lot: in more than one episode you can hear House's voice while Hugh Laurie's lips are completely shut, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, the dub has improved in the following seasons.
  • Lots of Spaghetti Westerns have this going in, including The Dollars Trilogy. All the characters said their lines in their native languages, which were then redubbed into the languages the movies were released in, resulting in a bit of oddness as the English-speaking actors having their dialog synched (mostly) with their lip flaps, but their Italian or Spanish co-stars having their lips flap all over the place.
  • All of the Godzilla movies from Godzilla vs. Gigan onward (except Godzilla 1985 and Godzilla 2000) were released in America with crude dubs commissioned by Toho (the studio producing the films) and actually created by a firm in Hong Kong. The mismatched lip movement is at times painful to watch, and the acting and writing is pretty awful too. Some of the pre-Gigan films have been released this way on DVD now by Sony, who didn't want to go to the extra trouble of getting rights to the original American dubs from God-knows-what company owned them, so opted to buy Toho's dubs. (Luckily, the original Japanese audio was included on most of their discs, albeit mostly with dubtitles.) Fortunately Classic Media's later releases of some films avoided this, and even released some films that had never been on US DVD before (Godzilla Raids Again, Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster). It's only too bad they weren't the ones Sony released. However, half the fun of the shows for a lot of people is the silliness of the dubs.
  • Much like the Raidou Kuzunoha example above, the overworld skits in Tales of Symphonia have their Mouth Flaps synched to the original Japanese text. It's barely noticeable most of the time, since the skits aren't voiced, but now and then it's obvious that they're taking too long or not long enough to say a line. In one particular instance, Sheena takes six syllables to say "I...I...".[1]
  • Sonic Adventure was known for its rather interesting lip-sync.
    • Starting with Sonic Heroes, later games attempted to avoid this by syncing the mouth movements to the English dialogue. The side effect is that the Japanese version greatly suffers.
  • The Hungarian dub of The Simpsons suffers from every dubbing-related problem you can think of, among them, bad lip-sync, and it shows no signs of improvement, even after all this time.
  • Likewise, Xiaolin Showdown in Hungarian. There are only about... two episodes you can enjoy without bumping into a serious dubbing error.
    • And let's not forget Phineas and Ferb. The voice actors have to do a lot of ad-libbing, as if there was no dubbing director or any guidelines.
  • A rare movie example, still from Hungary: the dub of the first live-action Transformers film. The timing is about half a second off in most cases. Then, there is Ironhide's line about exterminating the parents, which he says during Optimus' reaction to his suggestion, and also Judy's "You're so cheap." comment, spoken about 10 seconds too early.
    • Another notoriously bad movie dub, also from Hungary, this time Beetlejuice. The voice timing is so off, it is baffling. Not that it doesn't have a load of other problems...
  • Used for conveniences' sake in Sam and Max Hit The Road, where the animation sprites for the characters just use a repeating, meaningless mouth flap loop. Lampshaded in one of Sam's failure dialogues, where Sam turns to face the player and tells them, "Read my lips - I. Can't. Pick. That. Up.", with his lips doing the exact same loop as the entire rest of the time.
  • Also done with Stan in the first two Monkey Island games. He almost never stops talking or waving his arms.
  • The English dub of the movie Hai-Alarm Auf Mallorca (Shark Attack in the Mediterranean). "SHARK ALARM!"
  • Street Fighter IV has some of this. It's typically not noticeable, but at times its very obvious that they didn't care.
  • An American Tail, again, the Hungarian dub. I first thought there was an audio-lag, but no, it turns out the dub's creators really did have a horrible sense of timing. You could hear the actors just getting ready to speak when the characters have already mouthed full sentences. The sound effects are also nearly fully muted out.
    • Strangely completely averted by the dub of its sequel, done by the same cast.
  • The English dub of Final Fantasy X 2 has a lot of moments of this, often having close-up shots of the characters flapping their lips but saying nothing.
  • The English version of God Eater seems to have just decided to ignore the Mouth Flaps when they dubbed the game.
  • Speed Racer tended to slip into this. Of course, since they only had two days to dub each episode it's a miracle they were able to sync as well as they did.
  • The English dubbed version of Macross :Do You Remember Love? was apparently rumoured to be used as an education tool to teach English. It featured an eclectic bunch of Australian and Hong Kong voice actors. See for yourself
  • The English dub of Guin Saga has become pretty notorious for it's poor production values, poor voice acting, and poor lip-syncing. It's unusually bad for a dub from Seraphim Digital Studios (formerly ADV Studios), whose dubs are usually fairly well-received. It's widely believed that They Just Didn't Care about this series. Check out how AWFUL this dub is.
  • The old 1978 English dub of the first Lupin III movie also has a lot of lip-syncing issues, likely due to how rushed the production likely was.
  • The Celebrity Voice Actor-cast English-language dub of Roberto Bengini's 2002 adaptation of Pinocchio. This may have been a case of Christmas Rushed: North American distributor Miramax had just over two months to dub the film after it opened in Italy in order to get it released on Christmas Day in the U.S. According to the Other Wiki the dubbing process was the official reason it was Not Screened for Critics! The film bombed upon release and became fodder for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show -- he joked that the dubbing was so bad, Britney Spears walked out of a screening.

Parodies and intentional examples:

 Students: [singing, their mouths both shut the entire time] We are both ventriloquists, ventriloquists, ventriloquists, we are both ventriloquists and we practice every day.

Student 1: He carries the baskets.

Student 2: He carries the paper roll.

Students: And we don't have cysts. But one thing is for sure my friends, we are ventrilo-

Betty: *bursts in with goons and smirks* Ventriloquists, huh?

(Stuff happens and Betty starts beating the ventriloquists up.)

(A voice comes from somewhere else.)

Voice: I'm the Chosen One, outside the wall!

Betty: Your mouth tricks will not work on me, ventriloquists!

    • Kung Pow even went so far as to dub a dog barking. No, really. The dog visibly barked, and only after it had sat down and laid its head on the ground was the bark actually heard.
    • There was also when Steve grabs hold of Ling and screams at her[2], while his dub voice calmly says "I implore you to reconsider."
    • As well as a good chunk of Ling's mouth flaps being translated as "WEOOWEOOWEOOWEOOWEOO"
  • What's Up, Tiger Lily, a film directed and produced by Woody Allen, was one of the first to do this. A Japanese spy film, dubbed over with dialog about finding the recipe for the best egg salad in the world.

 Interviewer: So, Woody, would you like to explain what is going on so far?

Woody Allen: No.

  • In one draft of the script for the second Kill Bill film, Pai Mei's lips would be speaking Cantonese, while his voice (dubbed by Tarantino) would be in English. This isn't the case in the final though, as Gordon Liu does his own dialogue.
    • Also, a deleted scene in the first film features Michael Jai White doing a very impressive imitation of a bad dub job.
  • This was parodied in an episode of the Honey I Shrunk the Kids television series, when Matheson comes under attack of a mysterious band of ninjas who all talk like this. Diane even flat out says the ninjas are "badly dubbed".
  • In Wayne's World 2, Cassandra's father is unimpressed by Wayne speaking to him in (subtitled) Cantonese. When he decides to start a fight, Wayne brings up how it's traditional to be dubbed during combat. From the next line on, they have Hong Kong Dubs, including Mike Meyers dubbing himself.
  • Rugrats referenced this trope with everyone watching a dubbed Reptar film and the on-screen characters saying things that didn't synch up with their lips. At one point an actor is obviously speaking a lengthy sentence while the voice just says "Yeah."
  • In the first of the Police Academy movies, Larvelle Jones (played by Michael Winslow, AKA the guy who does the funny sounds) puts on a headband and flaps his mouth in imitation of this to intimidate some thugs.

 "Wanna fight? Fight me!"

  • A Very Merry Muppet Christmas also parodies this during the martial arts fight between Miss Piggy and Miss Bitterman.
  • This is parodied in Lizzie McGuire when Matt and Gordo make an audition tape for being in the new Jet Li film.
    • Happens again when the McGuire family sees Matt's ad on TV (The commercial itself was the HK dub-like in that episode).
  • The episode, "Lost and Found in Translation", from Power Rangers Dino Thunder watching a dub Japanese show about Power Rangers, which is reality Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger, the Super Sentai that were the fighting/Megazord scenes come from.
  • Parodied on Whose Line Is It Anyway? every time they played Film & Theater Styles and "kung fu movie" or "spaghetti Western" came up.
  • Parodied in My Gym Partner's a Monkey, during the duel of the shiny objects
  • Parodied in SpongeBob SquarePants with The Tickler, appearing in the episode "Karate Island".
  • Done on purpose by Fellini in Satyricon. The dialogue is nothing but foreign actors counting from one to ten over and over, which was then dubbed over in Italian with... something not much more coherent. Fellini gave two reasons: to confuse the audience, and because there were no homosexual actors in Italy.
    • A lot of old Italian films were done similarly; they would film the movie without a soundtrack, and dub dialogue in later. (Fellini in particular liked to play the piano while filming.) If you pay attention, you can frequently see minor lip synch slips.
  • In My Parents Are Aliens, there is an episode where Lucy comes home and finds Brian in a karate outfit and when he talks his lips don't match up with his mouth. Lucy then sees Brian has been watching a karate videotape and tells him that it is dubbed.
  • Kung Tai Ted, one of Brad Jones' characters, talks in a perpetual Hong Kong Dub as a deliberate pastiche of the movies he features on his show. In one video, his voice actor changes in the middle of a fight because he was bought out by a different dubbing company.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Marge in Chains," Osaka factory workers have lip movements that don't match their spoken lines in a parody of this.
  • The sketch-comedy Almost Live did this with its "Billy Quan" kung-fu parodies. Amusingly, one of the actors in the skit (John Keister) always supplied the still-out-of-sync voiceovers for his own character.
  • Invoked in GURPS Discworld Also: while describing the similarities between the Port Duck setting and Hong Kong action movies, it says "Having their lips move out of sync with their voices would be cheap, though".
  • Sam and Max Freelance Police parodies this in the Second Show Ever, when they mistake Mr. Yushi for a knife-wielding lunatic.
  • Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do In An RPG:

  9. My monk's lips must be in sync.

  • Independent film Kung-Phoooey has one actor does this while the rest of the cast speak normally.

  "Everyone from Hong Kong speaks like this"

  • Parodied to hell and back in Tongan Ninja. The cast members regularly emit lines of dialogue from their closed mouths, especially Action Fighter.
  • For a good amount of time, Kaientai's gimmick in the then-WWF was that they were always Hong Kong Dubbed. And this wasn't just for the folks at home, either; they were somehow dubbed in real-time via the arena's sound system. Don't ask how that was supposed to work; it was funny.
    • Think Milli Vanilli concerts.
    • "IIIIIIIIIIIIIINDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!"
  • The japanese scientist in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is very obviously dubbed over by what sounds like an overly bored George Takei doing a robot impression, completely missing his mouth flaps. Given the tone of the rest of the film it cannot be anything but parodic.
  • The Australian comedy film Hercules Returns is about a trio of cinema owners who have to hurriedly dub the film Samson and His Mighty Challenge during the red carpet premiere: this framing device takes up about 15 minutes of the film, with the remaining 65 given over to seeing their result.
  • Parodied in Chowder episode "Tofu-Town Showdown".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Restless" Dream!Xander is confused when Giles and Anya try to explain what's going on, but they're talking in badly-dubbed French.
  • SCTV has two foreign film parodies that are presented as lousy dubs: Rome Italian Style (postwar Italian cinema in general) and Pepi Longsocks (the Compilation Movie edits of a Swedish TV series, and two big screen follow-ups to it, that were released in the U.S. in The Seventies).
  • Ninja the Mission Force, as an Affectionate Parody of the Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies, does this deliberately.
  • Serious Sam II parodies this in the beginning cutscene of the boss level of the third world.

Notes

  1. Most likely watashi
  2. "I'M SOMEBODY'S MOMMY!!", to be more specific
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