Hong Kong is famous as an international movie set. From classic local films like Infernal Affairs or In the Mood for Love to Hollywood blockbusters like Transformers: Dark Of The Moonand The Dark Knight, our city has been the perfect sky-high metropolis for directors from across the globe to stage their masterpieces. Yes, most of the thousands of flicks filmed here focus on the likes of Victoria Harbour, Central, Mong Kok and TST. But there are a good handful of both local and international epics that have been filmed – in part or in full – in our neighbourhood here at theDesk. That means Sai Wan, Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town. Enjoy our favourites…
Cops and Robbers [點指兵兵]
Filmed in Lung Wah Street, K-Town, 1979
No prizes for guessing the theme of this Hong Kong flick. Cops and Robbers by Alex Cheung Kwok-ming is fast-paced, in-your-face and pretty psychotic in parts. And it includes shots in K-Town’s Lung Wah Street as it looked almost 40 years ago. There are also several other scenes that were filmed around Kennedy Town’s Kwun Lung Lau estates, particularly including the criminal gangs. The movie is occasionally screened by the Hong Kong Film Archive so if you like good guys vs bad guys action and you want to see what Kennedy Town looked like in 1979, go check it out!
Filmed in Hill Road, Sai Wan, 1988
We usually go to Hill Road in Sai Wan to head for the HKU MTR exit there. In 1988, however, this street was crawling with cameramen as director Stanley Kwan was working on Rouge. This is a ghost story that follows the lives and deaths of Fleur and Chan, two lovers who wait for 50 years to find each other again in the afterlife. The movie, which won several awards, shows Hill Road on two separate occasions. It’s the place where the love between Fleur and Chan begins and ends. Remember that next time you’re rushing into B2.
Filmed in North Street, K-Town, 1991
Okay, so Double Impact might not be the best movie in the world but still, it’s a movie, right? This 1980s beat-em-up features not one Jean Claude Van Damme but two! It follows the antics of a pair of twin brothers who are trying to avenge their father and fight an evil crime boss and his all-scarred-up sidekick. Despite a lack of depth and, well, plot, the film was nevertheless a Van Damme fan favourite. Kennedy Town’s North Street gets a starring role in the movie as this is where you can see a decidedly non-violent encounter between the Mussels from Brussels and the main villain. North Street hasn’t really changed much since then so go check it out. Just don’t expect to see Van Damme ‘acting’ there again any time soon.
OCTB Case: The Floating Body [香港重案實錄之西環浮屍]
(watch a clip)
Filmed on Instagram Pier, Sai Wan, 1995
Instagram Pier, right out on the harbourside in Sai Wan, is where people go to take beautiful photos of the sunset. But, in Lam Yi-hung’s OCTB Case: The Floating Body, it becomes less about the ‘bloody beautiful’ and more about, well, the blood. This film is all about murder and a quest for justice. To be honest, the title says it all, really. Victoria Harbour is obviously a good spot for a floating body and Instagram Pier is a great place for a murderer to toss body parts into the water. Next time you’re there, don’t get any ideas…
City of Glass [璃之城]
Filmed in the Main Building of HKU, 1998
Mabel Cheung’s City of Glass sees HKU hitting the silver screen. The movie features two strangers who discover a love affair between their parents which lasted for several decades. There’s twists, there’s tear-jerking moments and, most importantly, there’s the Main Building of the university in all its glory near the start of the film as this is the romantic place where two amorous young pupils meet one evening, thus sparking a beautiful love story. A few other areas in Sai Wan also appear.
Visible Secret [幽靈人間]
Filmed in HKU and around Sai Wan, 2001
HKU, Sai Wan and even a cemetery next to Queen Mary Hospital have cameos in Ann Hui’s 2001 comedy-horror flick, Visible Secret, that also sees Cantopop legend Eason Chan up on the big screen. It’s a pretty farcical tale, with headless ghosts, possessions and suicides, however it’s pretty funny too. Part of the film sees the protagonists trying to track down details of a horrific accident featuring a tram and a decapitation that happened in Sai Wan decades earlier. Yeah, don’t cross Queen’s Road West without looking out for ding-dings, thank you.
Filmed in the White House, Mt Davis Path, K-Town, 2004
Wong Kar-wai is probably Hong Kong’s best-known directorial icon. Responsible for more than 20 outstanding films, he’s celebrated across the world for his unique style and moving stories. His 2004 hit 2046 tells a story of love and loss between a science fiction writer and a woman who suddenly enters his life. The ‘White House’ on Mount Davis Path, which is right out on the westernmost part of Kennedy Town – and Hong Kong Island, for that matter, hits the screen a few times in the film. This is, in reality, an old abandoned building without an official name or street number. It’s empty so, as such, it’s often used as a movie set. In 2046, it becomes the Oriental Hotel, a place where the protagonists meet up.
Lust, Caution [色，戒]
Filmed in the Main Building of HKU, 2007
HKU is a world-famous university. And it’s appeared in a surprising number of films over the years. One of our favourites is Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, which was filmed in HKU’s historically significant Main Building, which is one of the original and the oldest parts of the university, boasting traditional architecture from the early 20th century. Of course, it provides a great spot for filmmakers. The story for this Golden Globe-nominated epic takes place in the Second World War and tells a tale of love and political struggles between a young woman and an aspiring politician. Several classrooms in the Main Building appear in flashback scenes.
Eye in the Sky [跟蹤]
Filmed all around Kennedy Town and Sai Wan, 2007
Nope, it’s not the one with Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and a bunch of drones in the Middle East. Hong Kong’s Eye in the Sky, directed by Yau Nai-hoi, sees police trying to catch armed robbers using surveillance cameras. While cameras might not be as glamourous as drones, the movie does offer a decent story and sufficient action to keep you entertained. Moreover, bits and pieces – including ‘surveillance shots’ from the cameras – were filmed in tons of K-Town and Sai Ying Pun locations. Moreover, one of the shootouts between the police and the crims is filmed on a highway close to the waterfront in Kennedy Town. Any ideas which highway?
Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight [今晚打喪屍]
Filmed in Hill Road, Sai Wan, 2017
To finish our list, we’re giving you a film that isn’t even out yet! Wi Lun-lo’s Zombiology hits the big screen at the end of June and Hong Kong movie buffs are already salivating because it places zombie mayhem in the centre of our city. Okay, so the story is generic – virus outbreak, survivors, lots of running away – but spotting the Hong Kong locations, as well as that freaky guy who was staring at you on the MTR this morning, is surely going to make for much mirth. Like with Rouge, Hill Road appears in the film. Ten points for spotting the other Western District locations…
There are obviously hundreds of other movies that feature Sai Ying Pun, Sai Wan and Kennedy Town. Let us know your favourites. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to our Facebook page and kick off the debate on there…
By Artem Sergeev