Often, we take for granted that Malaysia is quite a tourist attraction, so much so that she has managed to capture the attention of several filmmakers. Sure, we’re nowhere near claiming the Hollywood status when it comes to the art of filmmaking, but time and time again, our beautiful country was earmarked as an ideal filming location.
It’s safe to say that Malaysia is definitely on the map of major film studios, for Hollywood, Bollywood, and even Chinese flicks! Here are 15 international films that were shot in Malaysia:
1. Indochine (1991)
“Indochine” is a 1992 French film set in colonial French Indochina during the 1930s to 50s. It is the story of Éliane Devries, a French plantation owner, and of her adopted Vietnamese daughter, Camille, with the rising Vietnamese nationalist movement set as a backdrop. The film stars Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Pérez, Linh Dan Pham, Jean Yanne, and Dominique Blanc. Despite the Vietnamese theme, much of the “Indochine” was shot in Penang, Ipog, Parit, and Shah Alam. In fact, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang is one of the most famous sites featured in the movie.
2. Police Story 3 (1992)
“Police Story 3: Super Cop” (警察故事３超級警察), also known as Super Cop in North America, is a 1992 Hong Kong action film starring Datuk Jackie Chan and Malaysian actress Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh. Jackie reprises his “Kevin” Chan Ka-Kui character, a Hong Kong cop from “Police Story” and “Police Story 2″. You may remember seeing the scene where Jackie Chan hangs on a rope ladder while flying across Kuala Lumpur. In 2009, highly acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino named Police Story III as one of his favorite films of the past 17 years. He stated that Supercop features the “greatest stunts ever filmed in any movie ever”. Exterior scenes were filmed in Hong Kong Island, Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur while interior scenes were shot in Kuala Lumpur alone.
3. Beyond Rangoon (1995)
“Beyond Rangoon” is a 1995 drama film directed by John Boorman about Laura Bowman (played by Patricia Arquette), an American tourist who vacations in Burma in 1988, the year in which the 8888 Uprising takes place. Bowman joins, albeit initially unintentionally, political rallies with university students protesting for democracy, and travels with the student leader U Aung Ko throughout Burma. There, they see the brutality of the military dictators of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), and attempt to escape to Thailand. The film was mostly filmed in Malaysia, and, though a work of fiction, was inspired by real people and real events.
4. Thunderbolt (1995)
“Thunderbolt” (霹靂火) is a 1995 Hong Kong action film starring Datuk Jackie Chan and directed by Gordon Chan. In early North American releases, it was known as, “Dead Heat”. Set around the world of auto racing, the film is multilingual; characters speak Cantonese, English and Japanese interchangeably. Jackie Chan plays a junkyard mechanic and a part-time race car driver who helps the Hong Kong Police Force in their crackdown on illegal street racing in the country. Filming took place on several race track locations, including Japan’s Sendai Hi-Land Raceway and the Batu Tiga Circuit in Shah Alam, Malaysia.
5. Young & Dangerous 5 (1998)
“Young & Dangerous 5” (98古惑仔之龍爭虎鬥) is a 1998 Hong Kong triad film which showcases a fictional cooperation between the triads of Hong Kong and Malaysia. It is the 4th and final sequel in the popular Young and Dangerous film series. In it, actor Paul Chun plays Datuk Chan Ka Nam and can be seen complete with a baju Melayu and a songkok. If you’ve watched the film, you may remember a scene where Mei Ling (played by Shu Qi) attempts to chat Chan Ho Nam (played Ekin Cheng) up at Restoran Soo Kee near Jalan Imbi.
6. Anna and the King (1999)
“Anna and the King” is a 1999 biographical drama film loosely based on the 1944 novel “Anna and the King of Siam” (and its 1946 film adaptation), which give a fictionalised account of the diaries of Anna Leonowens. The story concerns Anna (played by Jodie Foster), an English schoolteacher in Siam, now Thailand, in the late 19th century, who becomes the teacher of King Mongkut’s (played by Chow Yun-fat) many children and wives. It was mostly shot in Malaysia, particularly in Penang, Ipoh and Langkawi region. The movie also starred English actor Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” film series. It was an Academy Award nominee in 1999 for “Best Art Direction” and “Best Costume Design”.
7. Entrapment (1999)
“Entrapment” is a 1999 American caper film directed by Jon Amiel and starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Filming locations include Blenheim Palace, Savoy Hotel London, Lloyd’s of London, Borough Market, London, Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (with other filming completed at Pinewood Studios), and the Bukit Jalil LRT station. However, the signage at this station that was used for the movie was Pudu LRT station instead of Bukit Jalil. Costing just USD66milion to produce, the film was a box office success, grossing over USD87 million in the US and USD212 million worldwide.
8. Summer Holiday (2000)
“Summer Holiday” (夏日的麼麼茶) is a Hong Kong film released in 2000, directed by Jingle Ma and starring Richie Ren and Sammi Cheng. Sammi Cheng plays a woman who sells her half of a resort on an island in Malaysia, and falls in love with the owner (played by Richie Ren) of the other half. The movie was shot primarily in Pulau Redang off the coast of the state of Terengganu, Malaysia. Of course, fans would remember the iconic “More More Tea Inn” aka “Mo Mo Cha” from the film, which has become quite a tourist attraction!
9. The Sleeping Dictionary (2003)
“The Sleeping Dictionary: is a 2003 American romantic drama film written and directed by Guy Jenkin and starring Hugh Dancy, Jessica Alba, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer, and Bob Hoskins. The film is about a young Englishman who is sent to Sarawak in the 1930s to become part of the British colonial government. There he encounters some unorthodox local traditions, and finds himself faced with tough decisions of the heart involving a beautiful young local woman who becomes the object of his affections. “The Sleeping Dictionary” was filmed on location in Sarawak, Malaysia.
10. Don (2006)
“Don” (also known as “Don: The Chase Begins Again”) is a 2006 Bollywood action crime film directed by Farhan Akhtar, and produced by Ritesh Sidhwani under Excel Entertainment. The film stars Shah Rukh Khanin double role, opposite Priyanka Chopra in lead roles; whilst Arjun Rampal, Boman Irani, Isha Koppikar, and Om Puri appear in supporting roles. It is a remake of the 1978 film of the same name, and follows a simple man from the city of Mumbai who is recruited by a police officer to masquerade as Don, the leader of an international gang of smugglers. 80% of the film was shot in Malaysia, and was filmed around the tropical Langkawi island as well as the Petronas Twin Towers and the Jalan Masjid India area, which is the “Little India” of Kuala Lumpur.
11. After This, Our Exile (2006)
“After This, Our Exile” (父子) is a 2006 Hong Kong film directed by Patrick Tam. The movie centres on Shing (played by Aaron Kwok), a man who desperately attempts to hold on to the dwindling threads of his family. Once a man who had a dream, Shing has become a deadbeat gambler whose marriage is failing with wife Lin (played by Charlie Yeung). Shing’s masochistic ego overrides any reasonable logic for change, which forces Lin to leave Shing repeatedly. After finally managing to escape, Shing is left with nothing but his son, Lok-Yun (played by Goum Ian Iskandar). The film is a marvel because the cinematography is absolutely stunning, giving the audience a look at Ipoh’s beautiful scenery.
12. Road to Dawn (2007)
“Road to Dawn” (夜明) is a 2007 Chinese historical film directed by Hong Kong filmmaker, Derek Chiu. The film depicts an obscure episode in Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary life, when he sought refuge in Penang from July to December 1910. He relocated the Southeast Asian headquarters of his political party, the Tongmenghui, to Penang and convened the Penang Conference to stage the Second Guangzhou Uprising. “Road to Dawn” was the first China-produced movie filmed entirely in Malaysia and the first international movie set in Penang. It was filmed entirely on location at the Sun Yat-sen Museum Penang in August and September 2006. The film fully exploits the multicultural setting of Penang, showing cultural diversity in ethnic communities, costumes, houses of worship, and architectural heritage.
13. Lust, Caution (2007)
“Lust, Caution” is a 2007 espionage erotic thriller film directed by Ang Lee, based on the novella of the same name published in 1979 by Chinese author Eileen Chang. The story is mostly set in Hong Kong in 1938 and in Shanghai in 1942, when it was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army and ruled by the puppet government led by Wang Jingwei. It depicts a group of Chinese university students from the Lingnan University who plot to assassinate a high-ranking special agent and recruiter of the puppet government using an attractive young woman to lure him into a trap. “Lust, Caution” was shot in Shanghai, the neighbouring province of Zhejiang, Hong Kong (at Hong Kong University), and some locations in Penang and Ipoh in Malaysia used as 1930s/1940s Hong Kong. The movie also starred Tang Wei, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, and Wang Leehom, just to name a few.
14. Fair Game (2010)
“Fair Game” is a 2010 biographical spy drama film directed by Doug Liman and starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. It is based on Valerie Plame’s memoir, “Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House” and Joseph C. Wilson’s memoir, “The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity: A Diplomat’s Memoir”. Naomi Watts stars as Plame and Sean Penn as her husband, Joseph C. Wilson. The movie’s opening scenes were shot at various locations in Kuala Lumpur.
15. The Viral Factor (2012)
“The Viral Factor” is a 2012 Hong Kong-Chinese action film directed by Dante Lam and starring Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse. The supporting cast includes Lin Peng, Bai Bing, Andy On, Carl Ng, Liu Kai-chi, and Elaine Jin. With a HK$200 million budget, lead actors Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse had a combined insurance coverage of $150 million and 20 bodyguards to protect them. The budget also included RM70,000 for apartment rentals in Kuala Lumpur. Filming locations included Hong Kong, Xi’an, Middle East and Malaysia. Around 80% of the movie was filmed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Several scenes were shot in the compounds of International Medical University and one of the locations used in Malaysia was an abandoned construction site in Kuala Lumpur. Among them, the scene in a traffic jam was filmed at Jalan Raja Chulan, during long weekends and public holidays when fewer people would be in Kuala Lumpur.
16. Blackhat (2015)
“Blackhat” is a 2015 American action thriller mystery film co-written, co-produced and directed by Michael Mann. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Viola Davis, Holt McCallany, and Wang Leehom. Filming began on 17th May 2013, in Los Angeles, California; Hong Kong; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Jakarta, Indonesia. It was said that the shoot in Malaysia lasted about 5 weeks and some of the scenes were shot at various locations including Kuala Lumpur, Port Klang, Pulau Pangkor, Manjung, Lumut, Marina Island, and Putrajaya. Needless to say, it sent Malaysian fans into a frenzy as they tried to stalk down the “Blackhat” cast. Our review of the movie here.
And there you have it! Sure does change what you think about Malaysia a little bit now, doesn’t it? ;)
Know of any other movies that were filmed in Malaysia that we might’ve accidentally missed out on? Leave a comment in the box below and let us know!