Cambodia: Lara Croft Tomb Raider Filming Locations

This film adaptation of a popular video game has probably been forgotten by many but it’s legacy certainly lives on in Cambodia where it is mentioned day in-day out by the thousands of tourists who descend on main location Ta Prohm to see it’s fascinating tree roots which have swallowed up parts of the temple complex.

The action in Cambodia starts on 40 minutes as Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is on a mission to retrieve half of the triangular MacGuffin. Before Ta Prohm though, there are a couple of other temples playing cameo roles. Having called in a favour from the Special Forces, she is parachuted down (in her Land Rover no less!) and waves goodbye to the plane which helped her from the Central Sanctuary at Phnom Bakheng.

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This temple, located 400 metres south of Angkor Thom, is an incredibly popular place for tourists to photograph Angkor Wat at sunrise and sunset and is where Lara begins her journey. She gets to work straight away and. looking through her special binoculars, she sees Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) and Alex West (Daniel Craig) getting up to mischief at the East Gate of Angkor Thom. 

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To get to this place involves a 20 minute hike up a hill although elephants are sometime on hand to do the hard work for you. At a cost of course!

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Moments later she prepares her ammunition and shoots off in her Land Rover from in front of the sacred Bayon temple (below) which is the centrepiece of the fortified city of Angkor Thom. Bayon is famed for its enigmatic faces donning the many towers within its three levels. 

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The most famous temple though is of course the aforementioned Ta Prohm which first appears on 42 minutes. This spectacular temple has been swallowed up by the jungle over time and the roots are growing out of the ruins. Lara parks her vehicle at the eastern entry which has seen a lot of restoration work between my two visits in 2007 and 2015.

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A mysterious girl appears and disappears a few times as Croft enters the complex and soon she comes across the huge tree below which is entwined with the ruins.

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Croft wanders around the eerie place for a bit before she finally catches up with the young little girl who points her in the right direction.

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She heads towards the doorway seen below where, having picked a jasmine flower, she falls through the ground…..ending up in Pinewood Studios! Alongside the screenshot is a photo I took on New Years Day 2007 as the place has changed a bit since then and is now more restrictive with the area roped off from the public who can only view it from a boardwalk.

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World Heritage site Angkor Wat appears on the hour mark and appears to be looming over a lake bursting with waterlilies and boating villagers. There are mixed reports on this one with some saying this elaborate floating village was constructed on the northern pond. Others refute that and say it was just a set with CGI used to add the worlds largest religious building into the background.

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Whilst there are a couple of pools at Angkor Wat, there is no activity on them whatsoever. Croft comes ashore asking a monk in Khmer language where she can make an international call.

You can read ‘Cambodia 2015 Pt VI: Kampot‘ here

Click here to see the London filming locations of ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider‘ (2001)

Click here to see the Hong Kong filming locations of ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life’ (2003)

Review: Films Set In Japan – Unbroken (2014)

Due to the content of this film it has never come out in Japan and probably never will (other than maybe a minor release). Elsewhere though, it was released last Christmas but as it didn’t get reviewed on Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review show on BBC Radio 5 Live, this inspirational true story completely escaped my attention until very recently.

Some Japanese nationalists asked for the film and the director to be banned from Japan which usually wouldn’t matter too much but given that the director in this case is the very high profile Angelina Jolie that is unlikely to ever happen, especially given the public thirst for such A-list celebrities visiting these shores. 

Unbroken‘ is the second feature film to have been directed by Jolie and tells the life story of USA Olympian and athlete Louie Zamperini who went through so much in the air, at sea and on land. This is far more than just a war movie and there’s a lot of story to fit in within the constraints of the running time but Jolie managed to pull out the key elements and, for me, Jack O’Connell is convincing enough in the starring role.

Having already survived one plane accident, Zamperini then suffers a near-fatal plane crash in WWII and spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen. This takes up the first half of the movie in scenes reminiscent of a survival type programme. The action on screen is minimal but nevertheless engaging and this section is not rushed.

The second hour sees them caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a POW camp and this part of the film is somewhat similar to ‘The Railway Man‘ (2013) and, like that story, this one is very much about the incredible forgiveness that these men have offered in the wake of such atrocities from their Japanese capturers.

Louie and his compatriot Phil are separated into different camps with protagonist Louie being sent to a POW camp in Tokyo headed by Japanese sergeant Matsuhiro “Bird” Watanabe who treats him very cruelly due to his status as a former Olympian.

Although it’s set in Japan the production never came anywhere near the country and instead filmed it all in Australia where a POW camp was built at the historic Fort Lytton National Park on the southern bank of the Brisbane River. Other scenes were shot in New South Wales at Blacktown International Sportspark, Werris Creek and Cockatoo Island respectively.

Being unaware of the story beforehand was a kind of bonus as it’s usually better to go into these things without any knowledge. As a result my mind wasn’t clouded by how well Jolie captured the essence of the book. With no preconceived ideas I just watched it and was enthralled by it for the 137 minute duration. Yes, it may have played safe and Zamperini’s character could possibly have been been developed a bit but overall I was more than satisfied.

As much as I like Coldplay, I’m not really a fan of pop music being in films but that is of course dependant on the type of movie but I just felt that this soundtrack was out of place and a more sombre reflective score would have been a more appropriate way of accompanying the initial end credits.

Unbroken Poster unbroken

Tokyo Fox Rating 7/10