Blocks of Hong Kong destroyed... but don't worry, it's only a movie

Mexican director Del Toro recreates urban streets then flattens them, just like in the movies

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 9:45am

It's the stuff of movies: a 25-storey-tall robot drags an oil tanker through the streets of Hong Kong, creating a trail of destruction, to face off with a sea monster.

Hong Kong's not new to Hollywood, but more and more foreign filmmakers are finding the city's appeal to moviegoers around the world is worth putting their money on.

And the latest to look to Hong Kong is Hollywood director Guillermo del Toro, with his US$150 million Pacific Rim, about robots defending the world against monsters from the ocean.

"We built several blocks of Hong Kong to destroy, and then we destroyed them," del Toro said on Saturday at WonderCon, an annual comic book, science fiction and motion picture convention in California. To film the scene, entire blocks of Hong Kong were recreated inside the largest film studios of North America and Britain.

We built several blocks of Hong Kong to destroy, and then we destroyed them

Del Toro's use of Hong Kong reflects Hollywood's increasing interest in the city, although his is the first production to build a large-scale imitation instead of shooting on location, so the destruction could be real.

"Every time the monster would hit, the whole set would rock from one side to the other, front and back," he said of the hydraulic-powered set.

Hollywood movies filmed in Hong Kong in recent years included Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), Contagion (2011) and The Dark Knight (2008).

Juno Mak, producer of upcoming vampire film Rigor Mortis, said he did not like the way the city was stereotyped, but felt the international presence could create opportunities. "It can help us tell our local stories to an international audience."