Triad movies and young people's perception of triads in Hong Kong

  • Alexandre CERDA

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


Triads are Chinese organized crime groups based in Hong Kong. Their origin remains uncertain despite the many different versions given. As they are secret and illegal, many facts remain unknown about them. Even though they have been associated with values such as honor and loyalty in the past, they are nowadays involved mainly in vice related activities such as gambling and prostitution. Their goal which is supposed to have been nationalistic also seems to have changed to only be profit making. Despite the fact that the scope of their activities have decreased since the 1970`s they are still active nowadays. The police force and the government describe them as dangerous criminals.

Since the mid 1980`s, many movies used the criminal underworld as a setting and Triad members as main protagonists. Triad Movies became extremely popular in Hong Kong during this period. Typical Triad protagonists in Triad movies are associated with values such as honor and loyalty despite their criminal affiliation. They are also often rich and powerful which can lead to think that Triad movies portray Triad members in an appealing way.

Al Bandura`s Social Learning Theory explains that through vicarious experimentation, people tend to endorse actions made by others when those actions are successful. By watching movies, people can change their attitudes regarding a topic or a group of people especially if they are young. This study analyzes the values attributed to Triad members in Triad movies and how the portrayal of Triad members in movies can influence young people `s perception of real life Triad members.

This is a two part study, in the first part, the 10 most popular Triad movies at the Hong Kong box office have been analyzed and coded in order to find which values are associated to Triads in movies. Based on these results, a questionnaire to assess people`s perception of Triads has been developed.

In the second part of the experiment, a pre questionnaire is given to a group of young students before the presentation of a Triad movie and after the presentation, a post questionnaire containing the same items is given to the students, the results are then analyzed.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology and Social Policy
SupervisorCheung-ming Alfred CHAN (Supervisor) & Hau Nung Annie CHAN (Supervisor)

Cite this