Plenty of destinations around the world have played leading film roles with some hubs acting as a substitute city in many mega Hollywood hits. Ditto for Macau. You might think this compact SAR of China is only famous for its casinos but the peninsula’s dramatic harbour and atmospheric back streets have also served as a shoe-in for several movies made in Macau.
This ultra-glitz visually stunning backdrop is a natural draw for filmmakers around the world.
To boot, the city’s annual film festival “The Macau International Film and Video Festival” this past season premiered 26 locally produced short films and documentaries that screened over six days.
With new casinos popping up every year and endless casinos in the pipeline, it appears that there’s no end to Macau’s expansion, giving filmmakers more potential blockbuster places to shoot their next film.
Macau, no doubt, is evolving into a cinema contender. Think you know your films? See what we’ve uncovered in the Macau movie vault.
1- The Audition (2015)
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt and is directed by Martin Scorsese.
The commissioned short film was premiered as part of the star-studded line-up launching Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd’s 3.2 billion dollar Hollywood-themed Studio City resort in Macau, which is one of the newest resorts on a growing Macau hotel list.
DiCaprio describes working with his two heroes, De Niro and Scorsese as, “a slice of heaven.”
With rumours having the film actors being paid 13-million dollars each and with a budget of around $70-million, it’s no doubt that it is a bit of heaven in Macau.
Being able to draw such star power is a testament to Macau’s growing influence internationally.
2- Skyfall (2012)
Skyfall is the 23rd James Bond movie series from the famous franchise that now features Daniel Craig as a sexy blond Bond, and Javier Bardem plays the unlikely villain and former spy Raoul Silva.
Bond finds a gambling chip on a dispatched assassin, which leads him to a casino in Macau and onto his search for his newest arch enemy.
Skyfall became the highest-grossing film worldwide for both Sony Pictures and MGM and it won several awards including two BAFTA’s, two Academy Awards, and two Grammy Awards.
Acclaimed chanteuse Adele sang the Academy Award-winning theme song which launched her into star stratosphere.
3- Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
This film was an American bio-pic starring actor Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, and Robert Wagner.
The film tells the story based on the life and career of martial arts superstar Bruce Lee.
After going to America Lee opened up a martial arts school and became friends and a teacher to actor Steve McQueen.
Lee landed a role as Green Hornet’s sidekick, Kato and then soon his movie career began with “the Big Boss” and then the blockbuster “Enter the Dragon.”
“Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” is dedicated to Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee who died while filming his last film titled “The Crow.”
4- Shanghai Surprise
Shanghai Surprise is a British comedy adventure film starring Sean Penn and Madonna.
It was produced by George Harrison’s HandMade films in 1986.
Harrison made a cameo appearance as a nightclub singer and recorded songs for the film’s soundtrack. If this inspires you to check out some nightspots, here’s where to experience Macau nightlife.
Do you remember “Breath Away from Heaven”?
The song was later re-recorded and released on his album “Cloud Nine” along with “Someplace Else”, also used in the film.
5- Macao (1952)
This film noir was directed by Josef von Sternberg and Nicholas Ray and produced by Howard Hughes who ended up firing Sternberg and replacing him with Ray.
The movie casts tough guy Robert Mitchum and Hughe’s favourite femme fatale, Jane Russell.
One stray thrown shoe and the next thing you know you’re kissing a hunk. Jane Russell is sultry beautiful and Robert Mitchum is a real man.
Macao is about mistaken identity, among other things.
Russell and Mitchum only made two films together because soon after finishing this film Howard Hughes sold RKO.
6- The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
James Bond played by Roger Moore attempts to recover sensitive solar cell technology while being targeted by the world’s most expensive assassin.
There are spectacular scenes shot in Macau’s casinos, shops and other places in Macau.
The famous golden gun was one of the most memorable props in the Bond franchise.
The gun was designed to take a single 23-carat gold bullet produced by the Macau gunsmith named Lazar.
7- Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975)
Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson) travels to Hong Kong to search for her colleagues who have disappeared during an undercover mission.
This fun adventure takes her through the casinos and Macau’s darker side where she pits her wits against the much-feared casino boss blonde “Lipstick Lesbian” who controls a large part of the local drug trade.
8- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Steven Spielberg’s prequel to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” takes Indiana Jones on an extraordinary quest.
In the movie, the city of Macau stands in for Shanghai where Kate Capshaw plays Willie Scott, an American expat nightclub singer who’s the damsel in distress.
She falls hard into a romantic relationship with Harrison Ford’s character Indiana Jones.
Together along with sidekick Short Round they pursue a mystical stone and eventually rescue children from the Thuggee cult who practice child slavery and black magic.
9- From Vegas to Macau (2014)
Also known as “The Man from Macau,” this is a Hong Kong-Chinese crime comedy movie directed by Wong Jing, starring superstar Chow Yun-Fat who plays a formidable gambler. It also stars Nicholas Tse, Chapman Tse and Jung Tian.
The movie is the fourth part in the successful “God of Gamblers” series where Chow reprises his role as the lead. The movie was released on New Year’s Eve in 2014.
10- Ferry to Hong Kong (1959)
Mark Conrad played by Curd Jergens is a playboy, a drunk, and a troublemaker with a shady past who is expelled by Hong Kong police after one too many bar fights.
Mark is sent to Macau on the ferry boat called Fa Tsan, known to its crew as Fat Annie.
Orson Welles plays Captain Hart who pilots the vessel to Macau but Conrad’s papers are out of order so Macao refuses to allow him to enter.
Unable to go ashore, Conrad becomes a permanent passenger on the ferry with Hart, who detests him.
The movie is a long, lazy voyage for Conrad until an encounter with a typhoon and pirates brings out the truth about Hart.
It forces Conrad to take charge of the boat and his aimless life and beat his personal dragon.
Want to go on a Macau shopping spree? Of course, there are plenty of malls but why not try these small independent stores?