Bangkok is the perfect movie muse.
With its intense colours, shattering noise and ability to evoke emotion in even the hardest of hearts, it’s no wonder that the various corners of this city have been used as movie sets and locations for the past few decades, in everything from Hollywood blockbusters and Bond capers to martial arts adventures.
We’ve compiled a selection of clips, trailers and photos where Bangkok’s glamour and chaos can be spotted providing a dramatic backdrop to the action up front.
If nothing else, this list should illustrate just how cheesy the trailer voiceovers were for the movies made in the early 00s. Amen for progress.
The Man With The Golden Gun
This clip from Roger Moore’s second outing as Bond has really got everything you could wish for in a Bangkok scene: a baby elephant molesting a racist farang, a child hawker whose British accent has a startling resemblance to that of Oliver Twist (I quote: “Blaady tourist!”), and Bond in a karate uniform.
The Deer Hunter
*This clip is both quite harrowing and one of the film’s final scenes so don’t play it if you’re afraid of spoilers. Also, the only clip we were able to track down unfortunately dubs over the final few seconds of the scene with some somewhat out of place commentary from former England footballer, Gary Neville. Sorry.
Anyway, although set in Saigon, a bar in Patpong was reportedly used for this final Russian Roulette scene. Earlier scenes in a supposed Vietcong PoW camp were actually filmed on location in Kanchanaburi.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Bond location scouts can’t get enough of Thailand, it seems. Bangkok is standing in once again for Vietnam after production was denied filming rights in Ho Chi Minh City. As well as Bangkok, the trailer clearly shows Phang Nga Bay, which is standing in for Vietnam’s Halong Bay.
Brokedown Palace looks to be the visualisation of every backpacker’s mother’s worst nightmare. Two girls party in Thailand before one of them falls for a handsome yet mysterious chap. Cue one drugs bust at the airport later and they end up with chopped-off hair and rotting in a Bangkok prison. Although primarily shot in Manila, parts of the movie were shot in Bangkok and Don Muang airport.
Although primarily controversially shot on Koh Phi Phi Leh, the opening sequences to The Beach see Dicaprio’s character land straight on the Khao San Road, as so many backpackers still do today. Bangkok’s chaos and hustle is quite promptly summoned in these opening scenes although some of the dialogue – “Wanna drink snake blood?” – may seem a tad over the top. The most we’ve been offered on Khao San is a wristband embroidered with racial slurs.
Belly Of The Beast
Steven Seagal is on classic form here as a Dad on the hunt to rescue his daughter who has been kidnapped in Thailand – perhaps every backpacker’s dad’s worst nightmare realised. Bangkok offers the perfect background for Seagal to show off his mad skillz with his arms, legs, sword and facial expressions.
Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason
The sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary sees our protagonist head to Thailand at one juncture where she is implicated in a drugs bust at Suvarnabhumi. In a slightly jollier rehash of Brokedown Palace, Bridget teaches her cell mates the words to Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” (cue a handful of Thai extras shouting “LIKE A WIRGIN”) with a plentiful supply of wonderbras and fags.
The trailer of Nic Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous reboot offers a plethora of familiar Bangkok landmarks, like Suvarnabhumi immigration, Soi Cowboy and the Asok intersection. As an added bonus, the voiceover is hilariously cheesy and there seems to be a profound overvaluation of the baht at play.
Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li
We’re back on the streets of Bangkok in the sequel to Street Fighter. The plot looks simplistic, at best, but there’s an array of enticing Bangkok cityscapes in the trailer.
The Hangover: Part II
The Hangover sequel shifts its location from Las Vegas to Bangkok with plenty of local landmarks to be seen throughout the movie. This particular scene takes place at the Sirocco Sky Bar and inspired the ‘Hangovertini’ cocktail now served there for a plentiful markup. Our one takeaway from this is wondering how Chow and Alan gained admittance as they both look pretty underdressed for a bar with such a strict dress code.
Only God Forgives
Set in Bangkok, Only God Forgives is a particularly violent masterpiece from Nicolas Winding Refn starring a dangerous looking Ryan Gosling and unrecognisable Kristin Scott Thomas. There’s plenty of familiar spots throughout the movie including Phrom Phong’s Emporium Suites and Soi Nana.
All I See Is You
We’re yet to see a trailer for the upcoming All I See Is You but the plot of this psychological thriller supposedly revolves around a blind woman, played by Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively, who starts to watch her life crumble as she regains her sight. Lively and co-star Jason Clarke were spotted filming in Chinatown and Sukhumvit Soi 31 last year.
What’s your favourite Bangkok-based movie?