If you’re living in Hong Kong and have yet to see Ghost in the Shell (2017), then you’re doing yourself a real disservice. Go see it. Right now. Pretty please.
Not only is the new Ghost in the Shell – with all its cool action sequences and fancy visual effects – a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the original source-material, it also takes full advantage of the aesthetics of Hong Kong, giving us a rare glimpse of what the Fragrant Harbour may look like in a cyberpunk future.
Being the weirdo that I am, as soon as the credits rolled, I went off to hunt down the locations used in the movie. I couldn’t find all of them (it’s hot out, okay?!), but here’s a list of the places I was able to find, so that you too can embark on a Ghost in the Shell tour of your own.
Pak Hoi Street, Yau Ma Tei
A real butcher shop in the street markets of Pak Hoi Street (Yau Ma Tei) stood in as Batou’s go-to dog food vendor. If you pay close attention in the movie, you’ll see that they even kept the shop’s Chinese name.
The actors were spotted there last year in June. As to the real question of how they were able to wear so many layers during a summer month and still do their thing… well… cyborgs, man.
Des Voeux Road, Central
This one is a little harder to tell with all the neat visual effects tossed into the background, but take a look at the tram stop and the buildings on the left, and you can tell without a doubt that Des Voeux Road is the right place.
Now you too can brood in the same street corner as ScarJo had. Please send me a photo if you do.
Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui
A heavily edited version of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre acts as the headquarters of Section 9 (I’m 99.5% sure it’s the Section 9 HQ, but I could be wrong… Anyway, it’s in the film).
The clocktower and promenade have been dropped in the film for a helipad, but the general structure of the Cultural Centre remains intact. On a side note, am I the only one who sees problems with placing the headquarters of a super secret organization smack centre in a metropolitan city?
Lippo Centre, Admiralty
Though we don’t get a good view of the Hanka headquarters aside from this shot, I’ve learned it is actually another famous Hong Kong landmark that’s been adapted for the film.
Apparently the Lippo Centre’s koala-like protrusions gives it bad feng-shui, which when you think about it, is oddly fitting as the home of Hanka.
Montane Mansion, Quarry Bay
Another location that pops up is the Montane Mansion, during a fight sequence where Scarjo really flaunts her boobs – I mean brawns. Ahem. Sorry.
Montane Mansion is a popular area for photographers – which I clearly am not, because I pulled this picture off flickr ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Lai Tak Tsuen, Tai Hang
Lai Tak Tsuen was the most elusive of them all. Took me quite a bit of Googling to actually find this damn building.
The sequence in Ghost in the Shell opens with a very similar shot, as Major tracks down a mysterious woman from her past (yep, I know, I’m pretty good at avoiding spoilers, huh?).
Lai Tak Tsuen is also another popular destination for photographers, though I’m not entirely sure if the general public is allowed inside.
Stating the obvious here, but even a blind monkey can tell from the screenshot that this is the one and only, Victoria Harbour.
Kinda gross that Major swam in that water, but since she’s a robot, I guess hygiene isn’t really a concern? Also, why would anyone turn down a beer from Batou?! Look at how sad he is with his cyborg eyes staring off away from the gorgeous view.
Hey, look! I even managed to find a photo with a boat!
Circular Footbridge, Causeway Bay
Sadly, I was unable to find a good photo of the final showdown, but the structure that gets blown the crap out of by the Spider Tank is none other than the Circular Footbridge in Causeway Bay.
Don’t go looking for a shrine below the bridge though. You’ll only find the headlights of cars swerving to avoid nicking you.
Tsuen Wan Chinese Permanent Cemetery
The ending of Ghost in the Shell, when Major visits Motoko’s grave, takes place at Tsuen Wan Chinese Permanent Cemetery. I mean, it’s not like there’s that many graveyards in Hong Kong, so you’ve probably already figured this one out yourself.
This is probably a weird time to say this with this being a graveyard and all, but since this is one of the few shots in Ghost in the Shell without CGI enhancements, I just want to make it known once and for all that Hong Kong makes for an absolutely stunning backdrop. It’s contrast of old and new, East and West, urban and rural is something you can’t get elsewhere. Where else can you see a mountain of gravestones next to skyscrapers?
Not counting Johnny Cash 2 (I think they spent about 5 minutes filming here) and Transformers (come on, they built a crappy Chinatown set and tried to pawn it off as ‘Hong Kong’), the last film to truly showcase the beauty of Hong Kong is Push. And that was back in 2009. Get your crap together, Hollywood (psssst, hire me as a writer).
This caps off another article that no one asked for. If you spot other Ghost in the Shells locations that I’ve missed, yell at me in the comments below! Until next time, hope you guys enjoy exploring Hong Kong.