Cambodia: City Of Ghosts & R-Point Filming Locations

Ever since I saw ‘City Of Ghosts‘ for the first time in 2010 I have been interested in the Old Bokor Hill location which appears towards the end of the movie. Further online research informed me that a Korean movie had also been filmed there which I alerted my friend Mostyn to ahead of his visit to the area in January 2011 and thankfully he bought both films on DVD so I was able to borrow and re-watch them ahead of this trip.

Le Bokor Palace a.k.a. Old Casino Hotel is shrouded in history with tales to tell from within its walls since construction began around a century ago. All fascinating stuff but it is the last decade which is of most interest to Tokyo Fox when ‘City Of Ghosts‘ (2002) and ‘R-Point‘ (2004) were filmed there.

WARNING: Contains spoilers!

The Old Palace Hotel first appears on 90 minutes as Jimmy (Matt Dillon) approaches it  from the south-west but sadly whilst we were there I didn’t visit this particular spot which is a little annoying as I had all the screen shots with me! Instead, I include my first glimpse of the place. As mentioned in the previous post the old structure was obscured by mist and fog when we arrived with visibility cut down substantially. A perfect introduction to a place famed for it’s eerie atmosphere!

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Con artist Jimmy is in Cambodia to collect his share of money from an insurance scam involving his mentor Marvin (James Caan), who at one point in the movie performs the Khmer-language song ‘Bong Sorlang.‘ We are led to believe he is dead in a scene (below) on 96 minutes that was shot on the back left side of the ruin.

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However, he turns up moments later (below) as his high risk scam (involving corrupt Cambodian government officials, high-ranking military and the Russian mafia) is unravelled.

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The back right-side of the complex appears on 100 minutes as that is where Marvin’s car is parked. Having been wounded, Marvin is helped by Jimmy to his vehicle (below) as they escape their situation. Sadly, the old hotel has been stripped in recent years of the dirty, rotten, rusty look which was such a distinctive feature.

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As Jimmy drives his dead partner away on 102 minutes there is a much wider shot (below) of the Old Casino Hotel perched on the hill. The coastline is over 100 metres below and for reasons of elevation the French chose this location for the slightly cooler climate.

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Just a couple of years later and the makers of Korean horror movie ‘R-Point‘ decided to use this place as it’s major location. When I originally watched it I was just expecting a few scenes to have been shot there so was quite surprised that it featured so prominently.

Though it was filmed in Cambodia the story actually takes place in January 1972 in Vietnam with the Old Palace Hotel doubling as a colonial French plantation. On receiving a radio transmission at the South Korean base in Nha Trang from a missing platoon who had been presumed dead, a squad of eight soldiers are despatched to extract the missing soldiers from the rendezvous point or R-Point. They eventually locate a colossal, vacant mansion (below) on 25 minutes which they subsequently use as their base.

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They are given a week by the High Command to find the missing soldiers but as time passes slowly and as R-Point day 2 begins on 46 minutes, one soldier informs his Lieutenant on the front steps (below) of the old building that he can’t find Private Chung.

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Moments later two soldiers are sat on the steps at the back of the place (below) on the right side as you look at it from the front. As they ponder what has happened to Chung, a pretty gruesome and bloody scene solves that mystery.

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R-Point Day 4 starts on 66 minutes at the front entrance steps (below) as the soldiers are ordered to split into two teams to scout the region from the spot where they first arrived in search of the radio operator.

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As the film draws to a close, there is a final front-on shot of the ruins (below) on 104 minutes. The closing credits appear soon after that bringing to an end this tense, atmospheric and tightly controlled war and horror movie crossover.

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You can read ‘Cambodia 2015 Pt VIII: Phnom Penh‘ here

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)

Seoul: Avengers Age Of Ultron Filming Locations

Over the years Seoul has lived very much in the shadows of neighbouring places like Tokyo and Hong Kong when it comes to Asian locations being featured in western movie productions. This time though, Marvel Studios agreed to portray South Korea as a high-tech, modern country during its 15 minutes of air-time. Mind you, it did cost the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism nearly £2.5m for it to be shot there on the condition that it showed the city in a positive light.

Whilst much of ‘The Avengers‘ (2012) was filmed in Cleveland in Ohio, ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron‘ (2015) was shot all over the place with locations including England, South Africa, Italy, Bangladesh, the USA and of course South Korea.

Filming in the capital city took place between March 30 and April 14 last year at various locations in Seoul. Now, I hadn’t even seen the first Avengers movie, let alone the latest instalment when I was in town a few weeks ago (I have seen both movies since returning to Tokyo) but thankfully Ethan had, and was able to guide us around a couple of the filming locations.

Leaving our wives back at base, we went cycling along the Han River for about an hour each morning. First up we cycled across Banpo Bridge to the futuristic looking man-made islands around Banpo Hangang Park that supposedly brighten the vista of the river at night. The facility on the largest of the three artificial islands is known as Saebit Dungdungseom (below) which was built in 2011. It first appears around 79 minutes and serves as the I.T. institute of Dr. Helen Cho (Claudia Kim); a friend of the team who is forced by super villain Ultron to use her synthetic-tissue technology as well as vibranium and the scepter’s gem, to perfect a new body for him.

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The following morning, Ethan and I cycled west to Mapo Bridge (below) which crosses the Han River and connects the Mapo and Yeongdeunpo districts. During filming it was closed (at great cost) for approximately 12 hours so that they could film an action scene involving Captain America in pursuit of the cradle being whisked away by truck.

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The Seoul set-pieces have been cleverly edited together and tend to blend into one  but other areas include the Gangnam Subway Station intersectionCheongdam Grand Bridge, and Star Park in Digital Media City in Sangam-dong.

Avengers stuff is everywhere in Seoul and the city seems very proud to have (finally) had a movie feature it. The War Memorial Of Korea museum, which we visited on our first day, had a special Avengers interactive exhibition allowing visitors to explore inside a full-size replica of Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network) including film props, interactive components, Hulk’s laboratory, Iron Man’s research institute, Thor’s Space Tower, Marvel Merchandise and so on. Entrance is 25,000 won (approx. $25) so we gave it a miss but not before taking the cheesy photos below!

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron‘ is released in Japan on July 4th (…if you’re ever looking for the release dates in Japan then my tip is to just scroll right to the bottom of the list on IMDb or whatever!)

‘South Korea 2015 Pt IV’ can be read here

Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2014

Another year has passed and despite my reservations about the future of such ‘top 10……filming locations’ this time last year, I have managed to do enough locations to warrant another list. It’s quite 007-centric and has in the main included just topping up pre-existing entries. Here then, in no particular order, is the Top 10……filming location trips for 2014…

1) Entrapment, 1999 (Click here)

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2) The Hangover Part II, 2011 (Click here)

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3) The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974 (Click here)

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4) Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997 (Click here)

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5) The Wolverine, 2013 (Click here)

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6) Godzilla, 1954 (Click here)

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7) Notting Hill, 1999 (Click here)

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8) The World Is Not Enough, 1999 (Click here)

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9) Skyfall, 2012 (Click here)

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10) Quantum Of Solace, 2008 (Click here)

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For the best filming locations for other years please click on the links below:

2009     2010     2011     2012     2013

Top 5……Films Set In Myanmar (Burma)

Myanmar (formerly Burma) will always have a special place in my heart as it’s where I proposed on Christmas Day one year ago. However, choosing a ring wasn’t the only preparation I did ahead of the trip as I also worked my way through a countless number of movies set in the country which has long suffered from internal conflict.

These struggles completely dominate almost all films set in Myanmar and due to the slight relaxation of control by their government the country is relatively calm these days but watching these films still doesn’t do too much to put one’s mind at ease!!

1. The Lady (2011) – Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in November 2010 whilst director Luc Besson was actually working on this biopic about the icon starring Michelle Yeoh. They were filming in Bangkok on a six week shoot at the time which was where most of the Myanmar scenes were filmed. Suu Kyi’s lakeside mansion outside Rangoon was recreated to exact dimensions in Thailand in a setting identical to the real house.

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Besson scouted locations himself in Myanmar and even filmed in disguise at landmarks such as the golden pagoda (Uppatasanti) and the aerial shots of the river were done on the sly via a rented helicopter crossing the border from Thailand to Burma.

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2. Beyond Rangoon (1995) – Depicting the events during the 8888 Uprising in 1988. Its main star Patricia Arquette loses her passport at a political rally and, left to her own devices, she gets caught up in a fight for democracy as she and leader U Aung Ko travel through Burma as they try to escape to Thailand. The film, which has an emotional score by Hans Zimmer, was mostly shot in Malaysia with some scenes captured in Thailand. You can see it here

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3. Rambo (2008) – Sly Stallone mumbled his way through war torn Burma to rescue a group of Christian aid workers in the long awaited (20 years!) follow up to ‘Rambo III.’ Burma is even more of a bloodbath than generalisations purvey as Rambo and a few cronies rampage their way through the whole country taking out the lot of them almost single handedly. Among his victims are a group of pirates and an entire squad of Burmese army soldiers whom he shoots with a jeep-mounted machine gun. Stallone justified this in a press conference by saying the violence in the film was to draw attention to the ongoing problems in the country.

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4. Largo Winch II (2011) – The original title for what became more commonly known as ‘The Burma Conspiracy‘ starring Tomer Sisley back as the title character alongside a much under-used Sharon Stone. Burma is only really seen in flashback scenes from a few years before and naturally it’s not very nice stuff. I haven’t seen the original Largo Winch film so sadly can’t compare them in any way but this one, though a bit disjointed at times, was quite an entertaining watch and Largo’s scenes with Malunaï (played by a Thai actress) were particularly moving at times.

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5. Stealth (2005) – This poor-mans ‘Top Gun‘ absolutely bombed at the box office and shows one scene quite early on in the film involving an aircraft bombing of a high-rise building in nighttime Rangoon.

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You can read about my own trip to Yangon here

On Screen #6 – Afghanistan

Britain’s war in Afghanistan ended recently after 13 years with the main British base at Camp Bastion being handed over to the locals who will be left to their own devices regarding the security of a province which has proved difficult to tame and has seen 453 Britons killed.

This landlocked Central Asian country has been torn by conflict for decades and for that reason (and pretty much that reason only!) has attracted the attention of film makers and TV executives who have used the various wars as a backdrop to tell their story. It should be no surprise that almost none of these productions have actually been shot in its actual location. Many countries have filled in for Afghanistan and it’s this fakery which attracts the interest of me.

Our Girl‘ (2014) aired on BBC1 in October with former Eastenders star Lacey Turner starring as the army medic deployed to Afghanistan as part of a a British Army infantry. She played Molly Dawes; the young working class adult who gets caught up in a love triangle of sorts. Serra Della Camp, a beautiful wildlife reserve in the Bonte Bok mountain range north of Cape Town in South Africa filled in for the country and the crew spent two and a half months filming there.

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The same set was actually used for ‘Bluestone 42‘ (2013); the BBC3 comedy drama series about a British bomb disposal detachment in Helmand Province. How nice of the BBC to save the license fee payers money by squeezing two shows out of the same set! The comedy focuses on the camaraderie between the soldiers, situational comedy, bureaucracy, conflicts of interests and relationships which is all in stark contrast to the deadly situations the potty-mouth soldiers are required to defuse. The end of the second series would’ve been a fitting and perfect place to bow out but I’m one of those rare people who doesn’t mind his favourite shows coming to an end. However, it will return for a third series in 2015.

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There was certainly no faking Helmand Province though in ‘Ross Kemp In Afghanistan‘ (2008); the British documentary series which aired on Sky One for five episodes followed by another five for the follow up series which was titled ‘Ross Kemp: Return To Afghanistan‘ (2008). Viewers were taken up close and personal to the realities of battle and the crew were even pinned down by fire from the Taliban, with Kemp enduring bullets passing within inches of him whilst in the second series he ran into a possible minefield.

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Haven’t seen it myself but ‘Combat Hospital‘ (2006) was a Canadian TV show (one season, 13 episodes) set in Kandahar revolving around the life and work of doctors and nurses from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Its creator actually travelled to Afghanistan to conduct first-hand research at a small military hospital where stories from medical personnel were collected to add realism to the show. Real images taken during that visit were blended in with all the other main Toronto-based scenes.

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Onto movies then and Ben Stiller’s romantic adventure comedy drama ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty‘ (2013) featured Afghanistan in the latter part with the Skogafoss waterfall and Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland used to replicate those scenes as this remote European country was used extensively for filming playing itself as well as Greenland. This film is unique in a sense as it includes Afghanistan for reasons other than the war!

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It may be a great story but I wasn’t such a fan of ‘Lone Survivor‘ (2013), particularly the first three quarters of the movie which felt like a propaganda video at times and was more concerned with over-long military-style action scenes instead of characterisation. Bagram Airfield and the ancient city of Bagram itself are seen on screen but all was shot in New Mexico with Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque doubling for the former. In fact, all filming took place in New Mexico (USA) in Chilili and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe National Forest with the latter filling in as the Hindu Kush mountain range that stretches between Afghanistan and Pakistan whilst the former played host to several battles scenes as well as the Pashtun village protected in reality by Afghan villagers out of duty to their 2000 year old code of honour which requires a tribe to undertake the responsibility of safeguarding an individual against his enemies and protecting him at all costs. Their fight against the taliban continues…

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Born Of War‘ (2013) is set in part in the Wakhan Corridor; the narrow strip of territory in the north-east of Afghanistan extending into China and separating Tajikistan and Pakistan. This time it was Amman in Jordan which filled in for the war-torn country.

The Patrol‘ (2013) claims to be the “British answer to Hurt Locker” and is an action drama film set in Helmland Province in 2006 exploring the relationships between a group of British soldiers as they grow disillusioned with the Afghan war. It was filmed entirely on location in the Agafahy desert which is about 40 miles from Marrakech in Morocco.

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157 minutes may be too long for a movie where we all know the outcome but ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘ (2012) still provides a very tense and breathtaking finale as the raid on Bin Laden’s hideout (filmed on a specially constructed set in the deserts of Jordan) is played out on screen. The scenes of the Navy SEALs flying in to siege the place are compelling and with it shot to replicate the zero dark thirty (military code for the time 00:30) raid it brings another sense of meaning to the word dark in a film with very dark themes.

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In ‘Afghan Luke‘ (2011) we see a Canadian journalist going after a story of possible mutilation of corpses in this rocky, impoverished land which appear increasingly incomprehensible and surreal as the protagonist undergoes a series of bizarre adventures. The scenery is quite beautiful actually but naturally those Afghan mountains are not the real thing as British Columbia and Nova Scotia in Canada substitutes for Shirac and the ISAF Base.

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Kunar Province in the northeastern part of Afghanistan appears on screen in ‘Iron Man‘ (2008). It’s where Tony Stark is captured and imprisoned in a cave after the army convoy is ambushed. Alabama Hills at Lone Pine on Route 395 in central California provide the strange Afghan rock formations. Once he’s escaped from captivity in the prototype metal suit he lands 20 miles further south amid the white sands of the Olancha Sand Dunes. Edwards Air Force Base in southern California doubled up as Bagram Air Base.

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Quite possibly one of the best films to be set in Afghanistan is ‘The Kite Runner‘ (2007); an incredibly moving story about two childhood friends and what follows in their adult lives. The themes of friendship, family, human values, and courage under fire all feature and left a lasting impression on me. The film flashes back and forth and features Kabul in 1978 with production taking place in the cities of Kashgar and Tashkurgan in the Xinjiang region of China with film extras supplied by the Ugyur Community of the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang. Afghan scenes shot in the oasis city of Kashgar, China’s most western city, include the kite tournament and the mosque where Amir prays whilst Tashkurgan was used for the opening kite duel scenes, the Pomegranate tree, and the Taliban compound where Amir meets Sohrab.

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Sly Stallone’s ‘Rambo III‘ (1988) sees the main man go to rescue a longtime friend and mentor from a Soviet prison camp in Afghanistan. Whilst in Pakistan a weapons supplier  agrees to take Rambo to a village deep in the Afghan desert where the usual carnage of such a film takes place with the Mujahideen warriors eventually supporting the hero in his mission. Peshawar in Pakistan played host to the Afghan market scene.

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The Middle-Eastern landscapes in ‘The Beast‘ (1988) were recreated in Israel (if I can be so vague to pinpoint a movies shooting locations to a whole country!). This movie, which often goes by the name of ‘The Beast Of War‘, follows a Russian tank crew during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan which finds itself separated from fellow tankers and relentless pursued by Mujaheddin fighters.

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For Timothy Dalton’s debut outing as 007 in ‘The Living Daylights‘ (1987) Afghanistan was actually filmed in the desert of Ouarzazate in Morocco which has been used in many films. The standout sequence in “Afghanistan” sees Bond escape from a Russian air base by aircraft. Whilst trying to diffuse a bomb he is attacked by henchman, Necros and as they scrap away the loading ramp opens and a net containing opium bags tumbles out of the back of the plane taking Bond and Necros with it. The net remains attached to the aircraft as the two men fight to the death clinging on to it as it hangs in the wind.

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Tom Selleck starred as a heavy drinking pilot hired by a society heiress to find her missing father in adventure-romance film ‘High road to China‘ (1983). Their journey in two biplanes takes them through six countries with mount Kamenjak near Rijeka in Croatia appearing to look like Afghanistan.

Adapted from the Rudyard Kipling short story, ‘The Man Who Would Be King‘ (1975) starred Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer. It was shot on location in Morocco with the Atlas Mountains, perennial favourite Ouarzazate as well as Glen Canyon in Utah (USA) used to replicate the historical region of Kafiristan which is now known as Nuristan in modern-day Afghanistan.

The events of the original Flashman’s exploits in Afghanistan feature in a brief flashback in ‘Royal Flash‘ (1975) with the head of the Rugby School recounting this tale. ‘Khyber Patrol‘ (1954) was about the struggle between the British army and local tribes who want help from Russia. It takes place on the Afghanistan border although the outdoor sets look remarkably similar to the ones used in many westerns of the time!

So there we have it, over a dozen movies set in Afghanistan but filmed in the likes of South Africa, Canada, China, Iceland, Jordan, Morocco, Croatia, Pakistan, Israel and the USA. Apart from the Ross Kemp series’ (and the news!) the only time I’ve seen the real Afghan landscape is in a short ten minute documentary titled ‘Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul‘ (Watch it here) which follows the lives of two young skateboarders from Afghanistan and juxtaposes the harsh reality of life in Kabul with the hopes and ambitions of the country’s children.

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Now there have been loads of war-related films and TV programmes set in Afghanistan and it is nigh on impossible to list them all here. This is just a selection of the one’s I’ve seen or know about but if you know of any others then please let me know in the comments or on twitter via @tokyo_fox

You can see previous On Screen articles by clicking on the links below:

On Screen #1 – Vietnam (Click here)

On Screen #2 – Istanbul (Click here)

On Screen #3 – Myanmar (Burma) (Click here)

On Screen #4 – Brazil (Click here)

On Screen #5 – Thailand (Click here)

Top 5……Tokyo Bridges In Cinema!

These structures built to span such physical obstacles like water or roads come in many different designs and so often they don’t get the recognition they deserve. When you think about it, hardly ever does a character cross a bridge without something happening  whether it be a deadly battle, a car crashing through the railings, something being dropped or tossed away, a heart to heart discussion or a monster destroying a landmark one.

Bridges have always had a part to play in cinema and they have served well in transporting characters into a new phase of life and I am on hand to acknowledge the role five Tokyo-based ones (as well as a bonus Saitama one!) have played in films over the years.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is the top 5…….Tokyo bridges in cinema!

1. Yanagibashi Bridge, Taito-ku: The Grudge (2004) – This green bridge opens up this American re-make of the Japanese horror movie ‘Ju-on‘ (2002) and just a stones throw away is the apartment of Peter who for some reason walks over to his balcony and then rolls over it and plummets to his death below. Now, as that’s in the first minute of the film I don’t really consider it a spoiler!! More details here

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2. Tsukuda-bashi Bridge, Chuo-ku: The Toxic Avenger Part II (1989) – This striking red bridge first appears on the hour mark as the Toxic Avenger is re-united with his long lost Japanese father. Five minutes later and a very silly fight ensues between Toxie and his fathers team of henchmen which continues on back to the bridge in question. More details here

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3. Yasakuni-dori Bridge, Shinjuku-ku: The Wolverine (2013) – Appearing on 19 minutes is  the usual shot of Yasukuni dori in Shinjuku which has featured in so many movies and TV programmes over the years and I guess it’s become the classic shot (alongside Shibuya crossing) of the neon lights of Tokyo really hitting the foreigner visiting these shores.  More details here

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It can be seen more recently in ‘Godzilla‘ (2014) as well as the Steven Seagal classic ‘Into The Sun‘ (2005). More details here

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4. Kachidoki Bridge, Chuo-ku: Godzilla (1954) – In his 15 minutes of terror, the final place to be destroyed by Gojira before returning to the ocean was this bridge (63 mins) which stretches across Sumidagawa River. More details here

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5. Hamarikyu Gardens Bridge, Chuo-ku: Into The Sun (2005) – A reflective Seagal cuts a lonesome figure on one of the gardens bridges amid the cherry blossoms in the films final moments (91 mins). More details here

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Bonus: Tokorozawa Bridge, Tokorozawa: Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (2006) – A bridge too far? Certainly not! Every good  Tokyo Fox listings feature needs an extra one and this one is technically not in Tokyo but as it’s just over the border in Saitama it can qualify as the bonus bridge. It features in the films dramatic final chapter on 82 minutes and that’s all I can really say! The match-up photo’s below though do give some hint as to what happens as the film comes to a climax! More details here

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Honorary Mention: Rainbow bridge is of course the most famous and picturesque bridge in Tokyo and is seen in both ‘Kill Bill: Volume I‘ (2003) and ‘Lost In Translation‘ (2003) but rightly or wrongly that one didn’t quite make this list.

Top 5……Tokyo Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Whilst its probably possible to spend the night at the Wolverine temple or outside the Grudge house, I certainly doesn’t recommend it!! There are far more appropriate and more conventional ways to absorb the atmosphere of a handful of films which have been shot at various places in Tokyo. Last month featured the top 10 movie locations where you can stay and earlier in the year there was the top (double oh) 7 Hotels featured in James Bond films. Now, its time to bring you a list of movie-related places where you can stay in Japan’s capital city.

So here, in no particular order is the Tokyo Fox top 5……Tokyo movie locations where you can stay

1. Hotel New Otani (from $217 per night), 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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You Only Live Twice (1967) – This hotel plays the part of Osato Chemicals exterior for a few brief moments on 24, 28, 36 and 41 minutes respectively. The nearest station is Akasaka-Mitsuke. Its small, but peaceful gardens round the back are worth a visit for anyone wishing to take a break from the concrete jungle. More details here

2. The Park Hyatt Hotel (from $507 per night), 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Featuring throughout the films 97 minute entirety, this is where the characters Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johanson) stay and the 52nd floor is the New York Grill & Bar where a fair few scenes were filmed including when they meet for the first time on 23 mins. This place is a great one for the lunch set menu (5000 yen) with the salad and dessert buffet spread being sufficient enough in itself! A delicious main course of grilled Australian beef or lamb is also part of the deal and the aforementioned buffet is laid out on the table where Bob and Charlotte first meet. More details here

3. Hotel Okura (from $237 per night), 2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku.

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Walk, Don’t Run (1966) – Cary Grant’s swan-song was mostly set in and around Toranomon during the 1964 Olympic Games. On his arrival in Tokyo on business, he turns up at Hotel Okura in the first minute but is unable to get a room there so goes to the British Embassy where he sees an advert for an apartment which he soon fast-talks his way into sharing with Samantha Eggar. More details here

4. Imperial Hotel (from $337 per night),  1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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Wasabi (2000) – Appearing on 47 mins this is where Hubert (Jean Reno) books into ‘pretending’ that the young under-age Japanese girl is his daughter with the irony being that she actually is, not that she knows it! More details here

5. Nakagin Capsule Tower (from $51 per night), 8-10-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku.

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The Wolverine (2013) – Logan and Mariko disembark (52 minutes) from the Shinkansen in “Nagasaki” though in reality it’s a combination of Fukuyama and  Ginza where the Nakagin Capsule Tower appears as a love hotel which they check into. The interior of these tiny apartments could be seen in episode four of the BBC documentary ‘Journeys Into The Ring Of Fire‘ (2006). The building is a fine example of Tokyo modern architecture and now you can actually stay there thanks to airbnb website. More details here

Bonus: Karaoke-Kan (from $17 per night), 30-8 Utagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Those wanting to experience a night at a movie location on a shoestring budget should get themselves into rooms 601 and 602, which featured on 46 minutes, and is where Bob sings ‘More than this’ by Roxy Music. You’ll have to check out at 6am though as that’s when it closes each night…or morning if you prefer! This particular idea for a cheap nights stay in Tokyo actually featured on the ‘The Travel Show‘ (Episode 31) on BBC2 last Friday (19th Sept). More details here

Top 5……Movies Made In Malaysia

The Malaysia tourism board launched a largely successful worldwide marketing campaign back in 1999 called “Malaysia, Truly Asia” but when it comes to appearances in movies, this south-east Asian country has rarely played true to itself and has instead filled in for other countries on the rare occasions production has moved there. It’s a shame that Malaysia hasn’t been given more time on the big screen but watching these films will still showcase the splendour and beauty of this exotic country and give (some) movie fans a thirst for wanting to feel the aura of the locations where the films were shot.

Here, in no particular order, is the Top 5……movies made in Malaysia

1. Entrapment (1999) – Starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones, this is perhaps the most famous western production to have been made (and set!) in Malaysia. feature some beautiful shots of Malaysia. The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur was heavily featured in the most action-packed scenes in the movie. The Melaka River can also be seen in the movie. However, this movie did manage to annoy some Malaysian movie fans with its depiction of distances between famous landmarks. More details here

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2. The Sleeping Dictionary (2003) – Set in the 1930’s, this film tells the story of a British man (Hugh Dancy) who learns the local language and culture from his sleeping dictionary played by Jessica Alba. You can see it here. The majority of shooting was done in Malaysia with Sarawak and Batang Ai the places used in this movie which angered some critics due to its historical inaccuracies such as the White Rajahs actually being in control of the region at that time rather than the British who took over after WWII.

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3. Indochine (1992) – This won the Best Foreign Language award at the Academy Awards in 1992 and it follows the lives of French plantation owner Élaine, her adopted daughter, Camille and her lover, Jean Baptiste. Despite taking place in Vietnam, a lot of the film was shot in Malaysia with Penang, Sham Alam, and Ipoh being used to recreate the French colonial era. Of course temporary sets were also built to replicate the 1930’s period.

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4. Anna & The King (1999)  – Of course this story is ‘set’ in Thailand but due to the protests of historical inaccuracy from the Thai Film Board it had to be filmed in Malaysia. Protracted negotiations and rewrites resulted in 20th Century Fox finally moving the production, starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fat, to the likes of Penang (Bangkok harbour and some street scenes), Ipoh, Parit, Langkawi and Selangor. More details here

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5. Beyond Rangoon (1995) – Depicting the events during the 8888 Uprising in 1988.You can see it here. It’s main star Patricia Arquette loses her passport at a political rally and, left to her own devices, she gets caught up in a fight for democracy as she and leader U Aung Ko travel through Burma as they try to escape to Thailand. The film, which has an emotional score by Hans Zimmer, was mostly shot in Malaysia with some scenes captured in Thailand. More details here

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Top 10……Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Hot on the tail of the top (double oh) 7 hotels featured in James Bond films here are the top 10 recommendations for other places where you can spend a night amidst movie history. Just to get things clear you have to pay to stay in all of the listed accommodation rather than just rocking up and pitching a tent outside the filming location!! This list, which is in no particular order, will take you around the globe and offers the full spectrum of price range.

1. Sidi Driss, (from $9 per night) Matmatat-Al-Qadimal, Matmata (Tunisia): Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – No surprise that this one is featured. Coach loads of tourists stop off here every day yet very few of them actually stay the night! That’s probably because it’s very dirty with poor service! I was the only guest when I stayed there…..but it was a privilege to spend the night at Luke Skywalker’s home! Cheap too!More details here.

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2. On On Hotel (from $3 per night), 19 Phang-Nga Road, Talad Yai, Muang, Phuket  (Thailand): The Beach (2000) – Another ridiculously cheap place to stay. Leonard DiCaprio checks in to this rundown “Kao San Road” backpacker place but its nowhere near the legendary Bangkok spot where western travellers congregate. It is in fact way, way down south in Phuket town. More details here.

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3. Imperial Palace (from $49 per night), 3535 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109  (USA): Austin Powers International Man Of Mystery (1997) – This Nevada state city has been used in many movies over the years and could probably have it’s very own top 10 list (now there’s an idea!) but just the single hotel for this entry and that’s Alotta Fagina’s penthouse suite where Austin shagged her rotten to use his exact words!! It’s since been re-named as The Quad Resort & Hotel. More details here.

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4. Tiki Motel (from $?? per night), 7301 Santa Fe Avenue, Huntington Park, Los Angeles (USA): The Terminator (1984) – John Connor was conceived at this very run-down in what is perhaps the most pivotal point in the whole Terminator franchise. You could stay in the same room where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese did the deed but in all honesty you probably wouldn’t want to! More details here.

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5. Royal Eagle Hotel (from $627 per night), 26-30 Craven Rd, London W2 3QB (UK): Trainspotting (1996) – The boys take a break from Scotland and head down south to London to do a drug deal. Sick Boy leads the guys out of Smallbrook Mews, across Craven Road in a parody of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. The “small-time wasters” then wander into the Royal Eagle Hotel. More details here.

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6. Grand Hotel Evropa (from $30 per night), Vaclavske namesti 25, Prague (Czech Republic): Mission: Impossible (1996) – This was the headquarters of mysterious arms dealer Max (Vanessa Redgrave) in the first of this action spy film series based on the TV series from the 60’s and 70’s. More details here.

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7. Westin Grand (from $274 per night), Friedrichstrasse 158 – 164, 10117 Berlin  (Germany): The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – The luxury hotel where Landy stays. Bourne cleverly finds out at reception that she is staying in room 235. He then watches her leave from his position on the 4th floor and then takes the stairs down and goes through the hotels revolving doors where he gets in a taxi and follows her to the CIA hub. More details here.

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8. Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel (from $216 per night), Wollestraat 41-47, Bruges (Belgium): In Bruges (2008) – Dark, comedy thriller featuring Colin Farrell (Ray), Brendan Gleeson (Ken) and Ralph Fiennes (Harry) with the former two Irish hit-men lying low in the Belgian city at this canal-side hotel. More details here.

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9. Four Season’s Hotel (from $750 per night), Teyfikhane Sok No 1 SultanahmetIstanbul 34110 (Turkey): Midnight Express (1978) – This used to be the infamous Sultanahmet jail depicted in this biographical crime drama. More details here.

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10. Plaza Hotel (from $550 per night), 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019 (USA): Crocodile Dundee (1986) – What could be better than washing your backside in the same bidet that Mick Dundee (presumably) washed his posterior in? Well sadly that can’t be done here as the facilities don’t have bidets! The interior scenes were shot in the studio but you could still pretend and shout it from the window down to pedestrians on the street below!  More details here.

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