Watch These 5 Films if You Miss Hong Kong’s Signature Neon Signs

Still from Ghost in the Shell (2017)

With more calls to remove Hong Kong’s iconic LED strips as part of the drive to improve light pollution, we feel nostalgic for the days when the garish lights shone brightest – after all, what is Hong Kong without the fantastic Symphony of Lights, and street signs synonymous with nightlife in Asia’s City of Lights?

It is no mean statement to say the LED signs make the city like no place in the world. Captured in millions of images, immortalised in thousands of films, the visually dynamic city continues to inspire and captivate filmmakers. Just look at these five diverse films – the neon signage plays a supporting role that adds an edge to their storylines.

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1. Vengeance

This French noir film written by Wai Ka-fai sees Johnny Hallyday traipsing across the underworld of Hong Kong seeking revenge. Of course, when night falls, the neon strips come out to play.

Still from Vengeance (2009)

2. Doctor Strange

Supernatural powers that allow Benedict Cumberbatch’s eponymous character of the film Doctor Strange transcend time and space lands him in the bustling heart of Hong Kong.

Still from Doctor Strange (2016)

3. The World of Suzie Wong

One of the best-loved classics depicting life in Hong Kong during the ’60s about a man, newly arrived from the United States, who falls in love with a prostitute – better known as a go-go girl in seedy Wan Chai – this film shines a light on every part of Hong Kong.

4. Chungking Express

Chungking Express is one of renowned filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s most memorable masterpieces, and for very good reasons. The film, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Faye Wong, encapsulates the iconic stuff that makes Hong Kong what it is: Kowloon’s grittiness, the blaring gridlock of the tight city streets, and, of course, lights, lights, gloriously gaudy lights.

Still from Chunking Express (1994)

5. Ghost in the Shell

Set in a dystopian future, this film took Hong Kong on a CGI whirl. Though scenes may seem visually enhanced, scenes on Des Voeux Road and in Tsim Sha Tsui are not that far from reality – just look at the heavy signboards and stacks of tall skyscrapers.


–This article originally appeared on South China Morning Post STYLE