Hong Kong: The City as a Film Set

A group of ruffians sitting in a tea restaurant in Goodbye Mr. Cool. Stories of old Hong Kong in Echoes of the Rainbow. Unforgettable laughs in King of Comedy. The lively underworld of As Tears Go By. The poignant emotions of In the Mood for Love… Hong Kong has produced countless classic movies, all of which have cemented a vision of the city in the international imagination. The streets have witnessed myriad stories, both happy and sad. While you’re here, why not take a look for yourself, and relive film history around every corner.


Wing Lee Street 

Echoes of the Rainbow

This once quiet and obscure street enjoyed sudden popularity after Echoes of the Rainbow was filmed there. Built in the 1950s, Wing Lee Street is located in a quiet corner behind a prosperous district. In stark contrast, it is a little dilapidated-quiet, away from the noise of traffic–and frequented by local stray cats. In Hong Kong, for a street under 500 meters long to have stood the test of time and retained its original flavour is almost unimaginable.

Wing Lee Street runs west to east street to the south of Bridges Street, near Shing Wong Street, in the southern part of Sheung Wan. With 12 archaic tenement houses on top of a terrace, it has preserved the old building styles of the 1950s and 1960s, which are rarely seen in other parts of Hong Kong.

According to Mabel Cheung, director of Echoes of the Rainbow, they looked all over Hong Kong before they finally discovered this street. It is a staid, quiet residential area full of old houses and small stores–typical of 1960s Hong Kong. In director Alex Law’s view, it is these local characteristics that make the movie so realistic. An ordinary Hong Kong family consisting of a reliable father, a peaceful mother, and mutually caring brothers lived happily on Wing Lee Street until a cruel disease took the life of the older brother. His grieving family could only wait for their pain to be cured by the passing time.

Released in 2010, Echoes of the Rainbow won the Crystal Bear at the 60th Berlin Film Festival for Best Film in the Children’s Jury Generation Kplus category, and won Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best New Performer and Best Original Film Song at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Shek O 

King of Comedy 

The Shek O peninsula is located on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, facing the South China Sea. The area includes Shek O Country Park, Cape D’Aguilar, and Big Wave Bay Beach. The mountain road offers a panoramic view of the hills and the sea.

Stephen Chow’s King of Comedy sees Wan Tin-aau as a movie extra who ought to be a star, and Lau Piu-piu as an innocent club girl. The pair fall in love in Shek O fishing village. The most memorable scene in the movie happens when Tin-aau pursues Piu-piu after spending the night with her, saying “I will feed you.” In Hong Kong, no solemn commitments or sweet words can ever compare to this promise for the future. Hidden behind the superficial gags is a sincerity that can touch the heart. Many of the scenes in King of Comedy were filmed on Shek O beach.

Getting there: Take the metro to Shau Kei Wan Station and look for the bus terminus beside the subway exit. Take a direct bus to Shek O along the narrow mountain pass.

Avenue of Stars 

Needing You 

Located on the promenade in Tsim Sha Tsui, Avenue of Stars is full of commemorative plaques erected to honour local celebrities from the film industry. You’ll see celebrity handprints, pillars printed with inscriptions about Hong Kong’s one hundred years of cinematic history, and a replica of the statuette given to winners at the Hong Kong Film Awards. You’ll also get a stunning panoramic view across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island, and see the multimedia ‘Symphony of Lights’ show that’s performed each night.

Getting there: Take the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Leave vie Exit E towards Aberdeen Praya Road, and exit from Hong Kong Cultural Centre after the pedestrian tunnel. Walk towards Ocean Terminal.

Needing You – Johnnie To’s romantic comedy – centres around the office love affair between Andy Cheung (Andy Lau) and Kinki (Sammi Cheng). They fall for each other, but Kinki dares not express her true feelings to Andy, a playboy by nature. Meanwhile, a wealthy man proposes to Kinki at Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, much to Cheung’s displeasure. This is the most dramatic scene in the movie. Just like countless men and women who work in Hong Kong’s high-rise buildings, they have their own love story going on behind the busy footsteps and anonymous faces.

Temple Street

New Everlasting Love

Located in Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon, Temple Street is brightly lit every night with food, clothing stalls, and fortune tellers, against the soundtrack of Cantonese songs. The busiest period is from 6pm to midnight. Considering the crowds and potential risks, it’s best to head there in the evening between 8pm and 9pm. The 600-metre-long road stands between Nan- king Street and Man Ming Lane, and is flanked on both sides by open-air stalls packed with local shoppers and   travelers. It is known locally as Men’s Street, since over 150 of the 350 stalls sell cheap menswear. In Hong Kong movies, Temple Street often features as a rough locale with a high crime rate. Indeed, Temple Street is nothing if not chaotic. New Everlasting Love is set here, providing a busy backdrop for the star-crossed lovers.

It’s a place where naive and fragile people are seized by a sense of emptiness whenever there’s a break in business. They see no point in life. Material affluence cannot make up for an empty soul. Deep down in their cold hearts, they still crave love.

Getting there: Make your way to Exit A at MTR Jordan Station. Turn right and make your way up Jordan Road, then turn right to reach the Temple Street Night Market.


Victoria Peak 

He is a Woman, She is a Man & City of Glass 

Overlooking Hong Kong Island, Victoria Peak offers a panoramic view of the whole city, the harbour and the rural landscape beyond. It is one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors can admire the scenery below the mountain at the bowl-shaped Peak Tower, or take a seat by the window in a high-end international restaurant to enjoy a meal while enjoying the view. There is plenty of entertainment available, including shopping malls, and Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.

Getting there: Make your way to Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus and ride up the peak, or board the Peak Tram Shuttle bus No. 15C or Minibus No. 1 or a taxi at the Central (Star Ferry) Bus Terminus.

Hong Kong movie fans will remember the romantic dinner in He’s a Woman, She’s a Man. The elusive love triangle, like the scenery on Victoria Peak, is hard to forget. In the movie, Wing tries very hard to conceal her true identity on a date with Sam at Café Deco on the Peak. The movie City of Glass uses fireworks is a sacrifice for love, which creates another sense of beauty: words become redundant, since every flower and tree is an emotional messenger.


Tian Tan Buddha

Infernal Affairs III 

The Tian Tan Buddha is the world’s tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha. Visitors can visit by bus, then eat a vegetarian lunch at the nearby Po Lin Monastery. For natural beauty, depart from Central Ferry Pier to visit the Island Districts or Cheung Chau to enjoy delicious seafood.

Getting there: By land–get off at Tung Chung Station for bus No. 23. By sea–take Ferry No. 6 at Central Ferry Pier to Mui Wo on Lantau Island, then board bus No. 2.

As the final instalment of the Internal Affairs trilogy, Internal Affairs III draws a conclusion to this gripping police-gangster series. It was rated as the most thrilling classic series in Hong Kong’s cinema history. One scene was shot under the Tian Tan Buddha: the first meeting between triad boss Han Sam and Mainland Chinese undercover cop Shen Cheng. This meeting foreshadows the unpredictable plot, while the awe-inspiring Buddha watches silently.