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Through the Lens: The Best Hong Kong Films

by Apple November 2013

Enter The Dragon | Hong Kong Films

Hong Kong has long proved a captivating setting for both local and foreign filmmakers. The vibrant city, known for its East-meets-West cultural identity, has a unique ambiance that’s perfectly suited to the movies. Whether a bustling local street in Kowloon, a peaceful fishing village in the New Territories, or the soaring skyline of Hong Kong Island, the city offers gorgeous, one-of-a-kind backdrops. Below, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite Hong Kong films that take the city as their inspiration.

Enter the Dragon, 1973

Arguably one of his best, this Bruce Lee movie was the very first Hollywood-made Chinese martial arts film. The famous “kick me” scene, in which Lee instructs a pupil in emotional combat, was filmed in the verdant Tsing Shan Monastery, which sits on the slopes of Castle Peak on the western side of the New Territories.

 

The Killer, 1989

The Killer | Hong Kong Films

The Killer was filmed in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay district © choikh, 2013. Used under licence from Shutterstock.com
 

Prolific Hong Kong-born director John Woo is known for his creative work within the action genre. The Killer, starring Chow Yun Fat, is one of his most renowned movies. The film’s gunfight scenes were filmed at Causeway Bay, where the shootouts drew complaints from the residents and caused chaos in the district. In another iconically Hong Kong moment, actor Danny Lee’s character is shown jumping on the tram on Hennessey Road, Wan Chai, during a particularly suspenseful scene.

Die Another Day, 2002

Die Another Day | Hong Kong Films

The stunning Victoria Harbour made a gorgeous backdrop for Die Another Day © leungchopan, 2013. Used under licence from Shutterstock.com
 

The 20th James Bond film sees 007 getting into trouble in the Far East. After escaping from a North Korean prison, Bond, played in this film by Pierce Brosnan, finds himself on a British warship in Hong Kong. The backdrop of Victoria Harbour, as well as the dramatic view of Hong Kong’s nighttime skyline, looks especially stunning on film.

In the Mood for Love, 2000

In The Mood For Love | Hong Kong Films

The moody and sumptuous In the Mood for Love shows a different side to the city © Casper Thessaloniki
 

A gorgeously shot love story, this critically acclaimed film by the great Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai depicts a quieter and lonelier side of the city. Set in the 1960s and starring Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, the film’s pivotal scene between the would-be lovers was shot in the small alleyway connecting Wellington Street to Wo On Lane.

Comrades: Almost a Love Story, 1996

Comrades: Almost a Love Story | Hong Kong Films

Comrades: Almost a Love Story uses Hong Kong as its setting and creative inspiration © leungchopan, 2013. Used under licence from Shutterstock.com
 

Directed by Peter Chan, Comrades: Almost a Love Story sees two Mainland Chinese immigrants, played by Maggie Cheung and Leon Lai, relocate to the frenetic metropolis. As the two grapple with life in Hong Kong, their love affair also proves turbulent. Though the film’s third act takes place in New York, the bulk of the movie is shot on location in Hong Kong, providing a quotidian glimpse into life in the megalopolis. 

Header photo: A Bruce Lee statue overlooks Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour © SeanPavonePhoto, 2013. Used under licence from Shutterstock.com

Written by Apple Mandy

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Have you seen any of these films? What do you think makes Hong Kong an especially cinematic city?


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About the author: Apple

Apple Mandy

Apple Mandy started her career as a journalist covering a wide variety of topics including fashion, music, health, arts and travel. Having worked in Shanghai as a Food Writer, she later moved to Hong Kong to manage some magazines. Gripped by a ranging passion for all things food related, she continues to eat her way around town and drink in the city's gastronomic trends. When not interviewing, researching or writing, you'll find her dragon boating or windsurfing on the shores of Stanley or Cheung Chau, respectively.