London Filming Locations: Entrapment (1999)

This Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones heist movie was most memorably set in Malaysia but the majority of the locations were shot in Britain with Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull in Scotland very prominent. As for London, a few places feature in the opening 20 minutes. Continue reading

Entrapment Filming Locations (Malaysia)

Perhaps the best and most famous movie to have been shot in Malaysia is ‘Entrapment‘ (1999) starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones as two international art thieves. It’s fair to say that this film, which cost just $66m to produce, doesn’t have too much competition although the likes of ‘The Sleeping Dictionary‘ (2003) and ‘Indochine‘ (1992) are worthwhile competitors. For the record, ‘Beyond Rangoon‘ (1995) and ‘Anna & The King‘ (1999) were also filmed in Malaysia but ‘set’ in Myanmar and Thailand respectively.

The Petronas Twin Towers in capital city Kuala Lumpur feature throughout but the most prominent scenes are on 64 minutes (see the screenshots below) with a brief cameo on 98 minutes. In the initial scenes movie magic makes it seem like the Melaka River, which is 144km away, is just a stones throw from one of the country’s most iconic sights. This blending of the scenery for the two places had some local people up in arms but this kind of thing happens all the time and is part and parcel of film-making.

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After a brief appearance on 75 minutes the film climaxes on 98 minutes at Pudu LRT station……or so it seems!! However, it is actually Bukit Jalil LRT station which is much further south along the same Sri Petaling Line. The signs were obviously just changed to its far more famous mass transit station and there’s also the rumour that it was changed as Pudu was the only station name that Connery was able to pronounce correctly.

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I dragged my girlfriend here on our second day in KL to take the match-up shots I needed with the action first taking place on the platform heading back into the city centre as can be seen by the buildings in the distance of the screen-grabs below but naturally a lot of time has passed since filming took place at this station so the trees and bushes in the background of all shots has changed quite a bit and boy was I confused at times with which scene was done on what platform. I’m not even sure if each part was actually shot on the platform it supposedly takes place on!

Connery’s character Mac is a punctual man often saying “I’m never late!” and “If I’m late it’s because I’m dead!” but when he arranges to meet at Pudu station the following morning at 6.30am (as ‘Plan B’ is put into place) you just know its not gonna be that simple.

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Sure enough, he shows up late for his meeting with Gin (Zeta-Jones) but with the FBI in tow too! He explains that he made a deal with them on his capture to help them arrest her. However, his plan is to help her escape which he does in a fashion which is a little bit ridiculous but nevertheless tense and exciting.

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Once Gin has made her initial escape, Mac sits down on one of the benches but they are no longer in the station. Or they may have just been props added for the movie. The advertising screens were bare in the 113 minute movie, which was directed by Jon Amiel, but in reality they are always advertising something or another.

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The other filming locations for this movie, which takes place on Millennium Eve, were in England and Scotland with the likes of Blenheim Palace, The Savoy Hotel, Borough Market, Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, Eilean Donan Castle and Pinewood Studios featuring amidst the Malaysian scenes.

If you haven’t already seen it (why would you be looking at this page if you haven’t?!!) then you can watch ‘Entrapment‘ here

Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967)

After a gap of four years the 23rd James Bond film ‘Sky Fall‘ is nearly here, 50 years since the release of ‘Dr No‘ starring Sean Connery. The Scot went on to make six official 007 films (plus non-Eon Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again‘) with my favourite being ‘You Only Live Twice‘ in 1967 which is partly responsible for my filming locations fascination and the inspiration for me going on to watch many more international films set in Japan thereby leading to this series of reviews on the subject.

This was the first film I remember watching which offered an insight into the country that has been my home for many years now. From the haunting but beautiful sweeping sounds of Nancy Sinatra’s soundtrack to the exotic oriental locations this film really does develop a flavour for Japan with its beautiful women, emerging technology and ancient customs.

 

The stakes are high in this film with the threat of World War III. The catalyst for this threat comes after a spacecraft is hijacked which sees both America and Russia blame each other. British Intelligence discover that an Unidentified Flying Object went down into the seas of Japan and so agent 007 is despatched to the Far East. Not wanting him to be distracted by old enemies under such pressure and time constraints Bond’s death is faked.

Bond forms an alliance with Tiger Tanaka, the Head of the Japanese Secret Service who many years later would reappear in the 007 novel ‘The Man With The Red Tattoo‘ which I finally read last year. Naturally, Tiger’s competent agent is a female called Aki who Bond gets together with before she goes the way of so many other Bond girls. But thats ok as she is easily replaced a short time later with another girl….or two!

As ever with Bond films I really don’t think the storyline is of paramount importance as the reason fans watch these films is to see the action scenes, the Bond girls, the lines, the villains and Bond’s charm and seduction when in the face of adversity as he often is.

This 007 film in particular played a huge part in giving Mike Myers his ideas for spoof agent Austin Powers such as the incredibly evil villain with his white cat who has a pedal that when pressed sees the floor taken from beneath his victim. There’s also the gigantic lair with guys in the background turning knobs to make it look like they’re doing something. The volcano base set is an elaborate one and the mysterious man stroking the cat is finally revealed to be Ernst Stravo Blofeld for a few brief scenes 100 minutes into the movie.

You Only Live Twice‘ may tire a bit in the second half but overall its a fun movie and on top of some nostalgic Japanese scenery it also features the “Little Nellie” helicopter which is one of the most beloved Q gadgets (used by Bond to explore the volcano area). As well as Blofeld finally being unveiled we also see the absurd plot whereby Bond is transformed into a Japanese man to maintain cover on his secret mission which can probably be attributed to (or blamed for) the many documentaries we’ve seen over the years with celebrity presenters throwing themselves into Japanese culture.

 

Tokyo Fox Rating 8/10

You can see my ‘You Only Live Twice‘ Japan filming locations here and here.

Tokyo Filming Locations Pt I: You Only Live Twice

One of the first major international films to use Japan’s capital as a backdrop was the 1967 James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’ starring Sean Connery. Despite being killed off before Nancy Sinatra’s beautiful 007 theme kicks in its just a crafy strategy. Bond goes on a mission to Japan 16 minutes into the film starting at the sumo arena (more commonly known as Kokugikan) in Ryogoku. He enters the changing rooms where yokozuna (‘grand champion’) Sadanoyama Shinmatsu gives him his ticket and the match is between Kotozakura Masakatsu and Fujinishiki Takemitsu which he seemingly only watches for a few moments before leaving with Aki. The address is 1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida-ku.

   

The New Otani Hotel at 4-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku near Akasaka-Mitsuke station plays the part of Osato Chemicals exterior for a few brief moments after 24, 28, 36 and 41 minutes. Its small, but peaceful gardens round the back are worth a visit for anyone wishing to take a break from the concrete jungle.

 

 

Bond escapes Osata Chemicals in a car with the help of Aki who avoids his questions which makes him suspicious and she flees to a secluded subway station which is Nakano-Shimbashi on the Marunouchi Line (28 mins). This is the private transportation hub of Japanese secret service leader “Tiger” Tanaka who many years later appeared in Raymond Benson’s ‘The Man With The Red Tattoo’ book. Bond is hot on her trail and follows her down the steps seen below right and on to the platform which is obviously a bit different these days. Believe it or not taking such simple photos wasn’t quite so straightforward as when I was down the far end of the platform a member of staff came down to tell me not to take photos. I asked him why not a few times before giving up as people just don’t question rules in this country. He must have seen me on the CCTV cameras but thankfully I’d got my shot just before he intervened.

      

On yet another escape from Osata Chemicals, Bond and Aki drive by Yoyogi National Gymnasium (above right) on 42 mins. This escape leads them well away from Tokyo to the docks of Kobe where he tries to dodge SPECTRE agents. The photo below left was taken in Kobe Harbour in May and the red bridge in the background appears briefly before the exciting roof-top scene below right.

 

The helicoptor flight (54 mins) was filmed above Ebino in Miyazaki prefecture. Himeji castle appears after 69 mins and is under extensive reconstruction at the moment but luckily I captured it back in 2005. This white castle is the Ninja training school where Bond turns Japanese and the shots below all get a second or two of screen time!

     

After Aki meets her inevitable demise, Bond limbers up (76 mins) in the West Bailey. When I was in Himeji back in May I had only one screenshot with me and was most surprised to see that the stone statue thing behind Sean Connery was still knocking about. Needless to say I was the only person in the whole place who took an interest in this piece of concrete!

 

Kirishima National Park in Kagoshima (on Japan’s southern main island) is the extinct volcano which can be seen briefly on 87 mins with the interior of Bolfeld’s hideout filmed back in the UK at Pinewood studios.

See other James Bond filming locations by clicking on the cities below:

London   Prague   Venice   Como   Istanbul   Las Vegas

Istanbul Filming Locations: James Bond

Two James Bond films have been filmed in part in Istanbul; ‘From Russia With Love’ in 1964 and ‘The World is Not Enough’ in 1999 starring Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan respectively as agent 007. The former is the better movie but the latter has its moments (covered in ‘London Pt 007: James Bond Filming Locations’) and thats where we start. After my Bosphorous cruise I took the ferry over to Uskudar on Day 1 to get a much closer look at the maidens tower just off the coast which is where ‘M’ (Judi Dench) is taken prisoner.

 

Istanbul was far more prominant in ‘From Russia With Love’with all the main sights featuring at some point. One of the more memorable places was the Basilica Cistern which I visited on Day 2 after Topkapi. In the film its situated under the Russian Consulate and is where James Bond and Kerim Bey escape with the Lektor decoding machine. In reality its under the south-west part of Aya Sofya. With temperatures reaching 35 degrees on that day this place was a nice cool break from the heat. The two lower photos are the columns in the north-west corner supported by Medusa heads.

   

Bond and Tatiana board the Orient Express on platform 1 at Sirkeci station (below). This station also fills in as Belgrade station where Bond sends a message to ‘M’ and Zagreb station where he is contacted by fake agent Grant. It was also not surprisingly the location for ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ in 1974.

 

Tatiana leaves a plan of the consulate and the whereabouts of the Lektor machine and a Russian agent is killed at Aya Sofya (also called Hagia Sofia). Bond also obtains blueprints for the Russian consulate at this place.

 

Bond is driven to meet Ali Kerim at Grand Bazaar (below left) which also featured in the 2009 film ‘The International’ starring Clive Owen. Bond also visits the Spice Bazaar (below right).

 

See other James Bond filming locations by clicking on the cities below:

Tokyo   London   Prague   Venice   Como