Wong Kar-wai’s Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Wong Kar-wai (WKW) is a master at weaving narratives and framing a city through his films. The city of Hong Kong, which he made his home, influences much of his works, from characters to stories to visuals. Many of his iconic film locations within the city have long been torn down, and only some corners remain of the city that was. Despite this, fellow fans still trail in the director’s footsteps hoping to find a trace of the city that was captured in his films.

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Updated 2 years ago

Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market

油麻地果欄

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

In his directorial debut, “As Tears Go By,” Wong Kar-wai captured a colorful cast of characters and neon-lit action on screen. As the city drifts to sleep, Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market comes to life with merchants selling fruit at wholesale. Boxes shuffle about in the arms of workers, and trucks drift in and out under the colorful lights. Operating under the veil of night, the market was also known as a nesting ground for illicit activities. Flipping this idea on its head, the director used this location in the brightness of day. The gangster Wah (played by Andy Lau) is framed amidst empty stalls and covered boxes, where a different nature simmers under the surface.

  • 1 Waterloo Road, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
    油麻地窩打老道1號

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South China Athletic Association

南華體育會

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

In Wong Kar-wai’s second directorial film, “Days of Being Wild,” the camera jumps right into a nondescript building. The quiet and aging corner turns out to be the South China Athletic Association. The camera first trails behind a man as he struts to a little stall and buys a bottle of soda—all the while flirting with the shopkeeper. Contrary to the romantic-comedy meet-cutes, this “boy-meets-girl” scenario sets a tumultuous relationship into motion. Yuddy, the charismatic (but problematic) man, meets withdrawn Su Lizhen. It all begins in a single minute of friendship...

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Castle Road

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

...and ends as another friendship buds. When the womanizer Yuddy abandons Su Lizhen, she in turn finds comfort in another man. She meets a policeman, Tide, one night stationed outside Yuddy’s apartment. He walks with her, a sympathetic presence in contrast with Yuddy’s own headstrong personality. Queue “Perfidia” by Xavier Cugat on your playlist and walk toward Castle Road from Robinson Road after nightfall to live out a melancholic moment in one of the director’s early masterpieces.

  • Castle Road, Central, Hong Kong

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Chungking Mansions

重慶大廈

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

Wong Kar-wai’s next film, “Chungking Express,” became a cult classic, claiming half its title from a monolithic apartment complex on neon-lit Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui called the Chungking Mansions (the other half was from the long-gone Midnight Express diner in Lan Kwai Fong). The complex hosts a wide range of restaurants, apartments, and shops. The façade of Chungking Mansions has been renovated, but the same frenetic energy flows through the labyrinth of stalls within. Chungking Mansions appears prominently in the film, which features the relationships between two couples, tied together. One of these relationships features a lovelorn policeman (Cop 223) who encounters a mysterious Woman in a Blonde Wig. She weaves gracefully in and out of Chungking Mansions, conducting drug-smuggling operations among the many rooms. It’s easy to imagine a Woman in the Blonde Wig walking through the busy halls, disappearing into a nondescript corner of the elusive building.

  • 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

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McDonald's (Star House, Salisbury Road)

麥當勞

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

Crouched in front of the lit golden arches, Cop 223 from “Chungking Express” eats his burger in a sequence right after the film introduces the Woman in the Blonde Wig. Cop 223 exits from the McDonald’s, a drink and burger in hand. He momentarily leans and slides down to enjoy a bite of his burger, but quickly moves on. An audio of his phone call from his ex-girlfriend is edited onto the sequence. As a result, Cop 223 seems at a loss or aimless, waiting for someone to come back.

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Central Mid-Levels Escalator

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

Into the second half of “Chungking Express,” you meet another lovelorn policeman (PC663) and an eccentric girl named Faye who works at the Midnight Express. She becomes intrigued and secretly falls in love with him as he visits for his regular order. Their friendship progresses and Faye attempts to cheer up PC663 from his break-up. One day, she sees him on the Central Mid-Level Escalators on his way to work. The long stretch of escalators and walkways see foot traffic from commuters over its 800-meter length every day. The film itself traverses several main roads from Cochrane Street to Shelley Street on the elevated platform. In an iconic still, Faye is crouched down on the conveyor—bowl of noodles in hand—staring up to PC663’s apartment from the Mid-Level Escalators. Her stark yellow shirt, pixie cut, and wide eyes are reflected onto the glass in a visually stunning frame that wasn't in the film, but used as a promotional still.

  • 100 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong

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Graham Street Market

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

Graham Street slices through and meets four main roads; a market stubbornly set in a narrow thoroughfare. The makeshift stalls, overflowing with fresh produce, squeeze tight between the looming buildings that rise on each side. “Chungking Express” shows Faye run some errands in this market for the Midnight Express, dragging a heavy basket across the concrete...

  • Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong

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Stanley Street

士丹利街

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Hong Kong, China, People's Republic • Recommendation • 

…and bumps into PC663 in the middle of his lunch just a block over from Graham Street Market. “Dai Pai Dong” (open-air food stall) crowd into an alley along Stanley Street—blink and you’ll miss it! While you’re there, level up from the photos and actually experience Hong Kong streetside dining as it was meant to be. Claim a stool at a round table, rub elbows with locals, and savor a meal likely enjoyed by PC663 himself! After a quick and hearty meal, walk along the narrow side street as Faye and the kind police officer did. Side-by-side, they cut through the crowd with their haul, each step drawing Faye deeper into her own infatuation.

  • Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong

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