8 Hollywood Movie Filming Locations That Were Based in Asia

Wednesday April 5, 2017 | by Gladys Ang | In Asia

Considering the booming tourism industry, a new traveling trend called movie tourism has emerged in the recent years. As the term suggests, moviegoers now travel all over the world in search of the footprints left behind by their favourite films. Filming is no longer restricted to the four walls of replicated settings in a studio as production teams are now expanding their budgets and head overseas to enhance their movie settings.

With the tropical landscapes exuding an enigmatic charm in Thailand, to the futuristic neon-lighted spectacle in Tokyo and Quarry Bay’s dystopic shadows in Hong Kong, Hollywood has made Asia their top destination for movie filming and location inspirations.

In this week’s ZUJI Passport, we round up some of the award-winning and cult Hollywood films that found their filming inspirations from Asia. You too, can visit these locations, especially with the amazing prices with our flash sales this week. Flights fr $52 (return) only ;)

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Hong Kong

Ghost in the Shell (directed by Rupert Sanders)

Source: South China Morning Post

This highly controversial science fiction film was based on a Japanese manga of the same name about a cyborg known as The Major (played by Scarlett Johansson), who fights off some of the world’s most dangerous criminals with the anti-terrorist bureau, Section 9. With a twist of events, she soon embarks on a quest to find herself and discover her past.

Source: Wikimedia

The setting of the film is based in a futuristic Hong Kong which is also known for its neon lighted streets in Jordan. By day, the colourful signs adds a lively note to the aging Hong Kong complexes.

Source: South China Morning Post

In the trailer, The Major is seen walking on the streets of Jordan which has been enhanced by CGI for a more Japanese touch.

Source: Atlas of Wonders

One of the key fighting scenes was filmed at Quarry Bay, featuring the backdrop of the iconic high rise apartment buildings. As the building casts a daunting shadow on its surrounding, it becomes the perfect dystopic situation for an intense fight scene.

Key Filming Locations:

Jordan, Yau Tsim Mong District

Quarry Bay

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Now You See Me 2 (directed by Jon M. Chu)

Source: Macau Daily Times

Following the series of events in the prequel, Now You See Me 2 sees the Four Horsemen whisked off to Macau by a supposedly dead Tech Magnate, to pull off the biggest heist of all time. Macau proves to be the ideal filming location for the action-packed thriller with the dazzling lights of the lavish skyscrapers which houses some of the world’s biggest casinos.

Source: Daily Motion

The iconic card heist scene was filmed within the Macau Science Centre which is possibly one of the best architecture works in the Peninsula.

Source: Lipstiq

Jay Chou makes a surprise appearance in the film as the grandson of the owner of a Magic Store that the Four Horsemen approaches for help. The actual store has a long history of more than 3 decades and serves the same purpose of supplying magicians from all over the world with an assortment of magic props.

Macau is the perfect day trip from Hong Kong that is only a one hour ferry ride away.

Key Filming Locations:

Sands Macao Hotel

Macau Science Centre

Iong’s Magic Shop

Shanghai, China

Mission Impossible 3 (directed by Brad Bird)

Source: Spark ZhouYuan

The third franchise of the box office hit Mission Impossible sees Tom Cruise reprising his role as a Special Agent who comes out of retirement to save his loved ones. On his mission to save his fiancée, Ethan flies to China and sprints across one of Shanghai’s legendary water town of Xi Tang.

Source: Top China Travel

Though the Wu Zhen Water Town is more renowned, Xi Tang holds the same oriental beauty and has burst onto the scene after the filming of Mission Impossible 3. By day, this lovely Water Town sees locals living their peaceful and slow paced life. As night falls, this quiet town transform into a uniquely Chinese nightlife scene with locals singing and dancing along to the oldies.

Source: Spark ZhouYuan

Xi Tang’s alleys are lined with souvenir shops selling trinkets and memorabilia, and restaurants serving authentic Chinese cuisine with some claiming that Tom Cruise patronised their humble restaurants to rake in more customers.

Source: Spark ZhouYuan

A mere 1.5 hours away from Shanghai, this Water Town is a truly preserved gem in the outskirts of the modernized metropolis of Shanghai.

Key Filming Location:

Xi Tang Water Town

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Her (directed by Spike Jonze)

Source: Four Three Film

Receiving a high 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this Oscar-nominated science fiction film follows the life of a sad and lonely divorced man (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who makes a living from writing professional letters. He then falls in love with his computer which soon develops its own personality that is beyond its functions as a mere technological device.

Source: Four Three Film

Set in a futuristic Los Angeles, the production team found the best spot for filming right in the heart of Shanghai’s Pudong Business District.

Source: Four Three Film

Its state-of-the-art skyscrapers and raised circular walkways were the ideal backdrop for the nature of the film. The famous Bund makes an appearance in the film as well, showcasing the classic skyline at Shanghai.

Key Filming Locations:

The Bund

Himalayas Centre



Tokyo, Japan

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (directed by Quentin Tarantino)

Source: Kotaku

Quentin Tarantino’s gory revenge flick sees former assassin, known as The Bride (played by Uma Thurman) hunting down her former allies and lover who decimated her wedding rehearsal. In her pursuit of revenge, The Bride ends up in Tokyo to seek one of them, O-Ren Ishii in Tokyo.

Source: The Planet D

The Bride is seen zipping through the streets of Tokyo in her motorbike across The Rainbow Bridge and Shinjuku. Of course, the highlight of the film was the showdown between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii’s Crazy88 gang.

Source: The City Lane

Tarantino found the inspiration of the fictional House of Blue Leaves restaurant from a high-end izakaya named Gonpachi that resides in the heart of Tokyo. Ardent fans of the film can savour some authentic Japanese fare while immersing in the restaurant’s hearty atmosphere.

Key Filming Locations:

Rainbow Bridge


Gonpachi (inspiration for the restaurant setting)

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Lost in Translation (directed by Sofia Coppola)

Sofia Coppola’s critically acclaimed film, Lost in Translation shines a different light on the city of Tokyo unlike the typical Hollywood portrayal of a loud and glitzy metropolitan city.

Source: BtchFlcks

Starring Bill Murray as an aging movie star who goes to Tokyo for a commercial filming and his encounter with a college graduate (played by Scarlett Johansson) who tries to come in terms with her husband's sudden departure. Set in Tokyo, the film amplifies the alienation that both actors face in a foreign city, while seeking comfort in each other as they trudge through their lives that are slowly falling apart.

Source: I Want to be a Coppola

Some of the iconic scenes in the film features Johansson and Murray singing in a karaoke lounge at Shibuya and extensive shots in Park Hyatt Hotel which the director describes as one of her ‘favourite places in the world’.

Source: BtchFlcks

A forlorn Johansson looking out of the Park Hyatt Hotel is one of the main scenes in the movie where viewers can marvel at the sweeping landscape of the Tokyo Skyline.

Key Filming Locations:

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Golden Gai

Karaoke Kan Shibuya

Nagasaki, Japan

Skyfall (directed by Sam Mendes)


Source: The Times

Skyfall marks the 23rd installment in the James Bond franchise and Daniel Craig’s third time reprising the British MI6 agent. In this instalment, a former MI6 agent returns as the villain to kill M, and James Bond finds him in his lair at a deserted island.

Source: WhatCulture

This island is none other than the abandoned Hashima Island near Nagasaki. Due to the dangerous conditions of the island, only external shots of the island were taken; any scenes featured in the island were done in a replicated setting at a studio. However, it is possible to visit the island from Nagasaki with tours conducted by government appointed agents from Nagasaki.

Key Filming Location:

Hashima Island (also known as Battleship Island or Gunkanjima)

Bali, Indonesia

Eat. Pray. Love. (directed by Ryan Murphy)

Source: Terrace at Kuta

With its rejuvenating spas, picturesque views and camaraderie among the locals, Bali is one of the most idyllic destinations to unwind at. The 2010 romantic comedy Eat Pray Love has propelled its popularity to new heights, with tourists flocking Bali to find love, just like Julia Roberts in the movie.

Source: Ubud Scooter Rental

Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of the same name, Julia Roberts re-enacts Gilbert’s post-divorce life story and spend some time in Bali to enjoy the laidback charms of the tropical island.

Source: Terrace at Kuta

The lush greenery of Ubud was featured extensively in the film, where Roberts is seen cycling at the foot of the Monkey Forest and living in a villa with an awe-inspiring view of the rice paddy fields and mountains.  

Key Filming Locations:

Ubud Tegallalang Fields

Ubud Local Market

Ubud Monkey Forest

Padang Padang Beach

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With a mishmash of cultures, exotic food and enchanting landscapes, Asia is full of surprises at every corner, making it the ideal location for filmmakers to get their filming inspiration. If these destinations have triggered your wanderlust, you will be delighted to know that you can fly to your favourite Asia destinations fr $52 only! ;) See the wonders of Asia for yourself! Flash sale ends at 6 April, 23:59.

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