April 25, 2008 / 9:07 AM / 11 years ago

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in cinematic Hong Kong

HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Often dubbed “Hollywood East”, Hong Kong’s dynamic blend of old and new continues to captivate local and Hollywood film-makers, giving the densely packed city a rich cinematic history.

A girl looks at the Hong Kong skyline through a telescope at the Peak in Hong Kong May 29, 2007. REUTERS/Paul Yeung

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge take visitors on a cinematic tour of classic locales from the films of Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai, William Holden, Jackie Chan and even Batman:

FRIDAY

7 p.m. - Take a stroll along one of the world’s great harbor walks. Located at the tip of the Kowloon peninsula in Tsim Sha Tsui, the “Avenue of Stars” has views of Hong Kong island’s skyscrapers backed by green mountains. It’s Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame with the avenue paying tribute to household names like Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat and Jet Li. The futuristic skyline is the city’s top film landmark.

9 p.m. - Dinner at the Mido Cafe on Temple Street in the gritty Yau Ma Tei district. A 1960’s time bubble, it is one of the oldest, best preserved “Cha Chan Teng” tea diners. Retro furnishings, slow-whirling ceiling fans and old mosaic tiles make it a favorite setting for local films. Try an egg-tart or a cup of iced yin-yeung; a popular blend of tea and coffee.

11 p.m. - A stone’s throw from Temple Street lies Broadway Cinematheque arthouse cinema and shop, home to a trove of rare Asian and Hong Kong films, including early Kung-fu classics. The nearby open-air market stalls mix of fortune tellers, brothels and shrieking Cantonese Opera street performers featured in the 1993 Hong Kong film “C’est La Vie, Ma Cheri”.

SATURDAY

9 a.m. - Take the Peak tram funicular railway up to Hong Kong Island’s Victoria Peak. “The Peak” was the setting for scenes in the Oscar-winning 1955 Hollywood film “Love is a Many-Splendored thing” starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones and about a love affair between an American reporter and an Eurasian doctor.

11 a.m. - Head back down to one of the smaller but oldest street markets, by Gough Street in Central. Like many vestiges of old Hong Kong it is threatened by rampant urbanization. But for now you can follow in the footsteps of Morgan Freeman, who walked through the market in the latest Batman movie “The Dark Knight”.

12 p.m. - Walk down the winding lanes to Hong Kong’s tallest building; Two IFC tower. Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie parachuted over the harbor from the top of the 88-floor skyscraper in Tomb Raider film “The Cradle of Life”. Batman was also filmed standing atop the sleek edifice last year.

1 p.m. - Duck into the dimly-lit Goldfinch Cafe in Causeway Bay, used by local arthouse director Wong Kar-wai for “In the Mood for Love”. Settle into a little booth for an intimate coffee, just like the movie’s stars Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung.

4 p.m. - Ride the Star Ferry across Victoria harbor as William Holden did with Nancy Kwan in the 1960 romantic drama, “The World of Suzie Wong” about an American man who falls for a Hong Kong call girl. The old Star Ferry Pier and chiming clocktower were recently demolished but the ferry remains the cheapest and best ride in town. Take the lower deck and feel the sea spray on your face while picturing James Bond classic “The Man with the Golden Gun”, which used the harbor as a backdrop.

5 p.m. - Explore the cultural melting pot of Chungking Mansions on Tsim Sha Tsui’s Nathan Road, the setting for another Wong Kar-wai movie, “Chungking Express”. Crammed with shops, guesthouses and businesses run by the Indian and South Asian community, it’s a great place for an authentic curry.

9 p.m. - Head back by MTR subway for drinks in the once notorious, now gentrified, nightlife district of Wanchai, made famous by “The World of Suzie Wong”. Chic and trendy bars abound, along with girly bars including “Bottom’s Up.”. Originally in Tsim Sha Tsui, Roger Moore’s James Bond visited the night spot in “The Man with the Golden Gun”.

SUNDAY

11 a.m. - Late breakfast in Soho (South of Hollywood Road) district after riding up the Central to Mid-levels escalator, the world’s longest of its type. In “Chungking Express” actor Tony Leung plays a cop living in a small flat beside the escalator, and scenes from thriller “Infernal Affairs 3” were set in the neighborhood’s Pottinger Street.

A picture taken from the roof of Two International Finance Centre (IFC), Hong Kong's tallest building, shows the city's Central district, December 26, 2007. REUTERS/Victor Fraile

1 p.m. - Lunch at Queen’s Cafe in Causeway Bay which featured prominently in Wong Kar-wai “Days of Being Wild”. Order a hot milk tea or sample the city’s hybrid Canto-Western cuisine like Russian Borscht or a steak on a sizzling cast iron hotplate.

3 p.m. - Director Ang Lee’s award winning “Lust, Caution” was partly filmed at the University of Hong Kong’s Main Building. The nearly century-old red-brick structure and clocktower are where the film’s patriotic students hatch their plan to assassinate a Japanese-allied Chinese spy.

5 p.m. - Finally, pay a visit to Mong Kok, a popular and safe shopping district whose dark criminal underbelly is depicted in the violent gangster flicks of director Johnny To, including “Election” and “P.T.U.”. The China Cafe on Canton Road, featured in both films, is a fitting spot to stop in, after soaking up Hong Kong’s unique street scenes.

Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Gillian Murdoch

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