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Movie locations

Hollywood probably isn't worried, but maybe it should be. Many of the world's most popular films have used the Land of Smiles as a setting. Thailand offers elephants, exotic beaches, and steaming jungles. Directors are also attracted by low production costs, a cooperative government and a ready supply of trained crew members.

May 2008
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One of Thailand's most recognizable sights is Koh Tapu, popularly known as James Bond Island. First featured in the film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), the island was home to the evil Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee. Today the island in Phang Nga Bay remains a popular tourist destination. Other scenes in the movie were shot at Ratchdamnoen Boxing Stadium in Bangkok. This ninth film in the Bond series starred Roger Moore and Britt Ekland-one of James' most memorable playmates.

Khao Ping Kan in Phang Nga Bay was also used for a scene in the film and featured again in the eighteenth in the James Bond series-Tomorrow Never Dies (1993).

The Killing Fields (1984) was an award-winning British film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia directed by Roland Joffé and produced by David Puttna. Rice fields in Hua Hin and beaches in Phuket substituted for the Khmer killing fields.

Good Morning Vietnam (1987) was written by Mitch Markowitz, directed by Barry Levins and starred Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, and the famous Thai actress Jintara Sukapat. The movie was about the Vietnam War, with Williams playing an army disc jockey who turns the Saigon Armed Forces radio inside out. His manic monologues were so uproarious that they carried the rest of the film, which had a weakly developed storyline with frequently irrelevant musical interludes. Apparently the real-life Adrian Cronauer upon whom story was based, wasn't nearly as funny or outrageous as Williams.

Parts of the film were shot on location in Bangkok and Phuket.

Another Vietnam movie Casualties of War (1989)-was also filmed in Phuket. Written by Daniel Lang and directed by Brian de Palma [who also directed The Untouchables, Mission Impossible and Carrie] the film tells the story of a US soldier who comes into conflict with his own squad when they wrongly kidnap a female villager.

Cutthroat Island (1995) directed by Renny Harlin, was filmed on location in Maya Bay and at various locations in Phuket and Krabi. The film tells a fast-paced tale of swashbuckling pirates, treasure maps and beautiful women.

Heaven and Earth (1993) was yet another Vietnam war era film shot in and around Phuket. The story is about a Vietnamese village girl who survives the war and escapes to America.

One of the most controversial films made in Thailand was The Beach (2000), based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Alex Garland. Although the movie starred the iconic Leonard DiCaprio, it was nowhere near as popular as the book and the production became mired in controversy. In the course of making the film, 20th Century Fox bulldozed a beach on Phi Phi island, thereby incurring the wrath of environmentalists. Fox claimed that they had improved the area but when the case went to court, they lost.

The On-On Hotel and street scenes in Phuket were featured in the film and Talang studios were used for interiors.

The sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)-Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) was a romantic comedy film. Renee Zellweger starred as Bridget Jones Colin Firth played Mark Darcy and Hugh Grant portrayed Daniel Cleaver. Scenes of romantic sea cruising were shot in Phang Nga Bay off Panyee Island. Nai Yang Beach and Phuket Airport were also used for some scenes.

Remember the comedy and adventure film Around the World in 80 Days (2004) starring Jackie Chan as the Passepartout, Steve Coogan as Phileas Fogg and Cécile de France as Monique? Parts of this feature were filmed in Thailand near Krabi. Sammo Hung made an appearance as Wong Fei Hung.

The sixth and final film in the Star Wars series was Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith (2005) which was written and directed by George Lucas. He is one of the American film industry's most financially successful independent directors. This movie broke several box office records during its opening week, and went on to earn over US$850 million worldwide. It was also the highest grossing film of 2005 in the States. Krabi Province was used in a scene featuring the Wookiee homeworld.

The next time you watch a film and the background looks strangely familiar, chances are that those beaches or jungles are from the Land of Smiles.

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