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License to Thrill: Where to Recreate Famous Spy Movie Moments

We’re blowing the cover on James Bond, Mr Chan and other superspies by revealing where in the world you can recreate their memorable movie scenes

The Spy Who Loved Me

Hotel Cala Di Volpe
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Cala Di Volpe

In the tenth Bond flick, James Bond (Roger Moore) and KGB agent Triple X (Barbara Bach) travel to the Italian island of Sardinia to infiltrate the base of shipping tycoon – and megalomaniacal supervillain, naturally – Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens). The secret agent duo zip around in a white Lotus Esprit, pulling up to the lavish Hotel Cala Di Volpe, which still welcomes the most glamorous faces on the Costa Smeralda – the ‘emerald coast’. After being chased across the island by a troupe of goons, Bond escapes by plunging his car into the sea – and transforming it into a submarine. The pair emerge at the small, scenic Spiaggia Capriccioli beach. Not equipped with a submersible sportscar? Hop aboard the semi-submersible NemoSub at Cagliari’s Marina Piccola port for an aquatic look at the Sardinian coast.

Men in Black: International

Aragonese Castle, Ischia
Credit: Shutterstock

As the name might imply, the latest in the MIB series shifts the action out of the States and into alien territory… or the streets of London, at any rate, where studmuffin Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and newbie recruit Agent M (Tessa Thompson) get pulled into an intergalactic firefight on the streets outside St. Paul’s Cathedral. An investigation leads them from the souks of Marrakech to Morocco’s Erg Chebbi dune sea – and from there to the fortress of intergalactic arms dealer Riza (Rebecca Ferguson) at the medieval Aragonese Castle next to the Italian island of Ischia, just off the coast of Naples. You may not be able to pull off an alien superweapon heist, but you can certainly visit this towering edifice.

GoldenEye

Bungee jump at the Contra Dam
Credit: Courtesy of Contra Dam

The beginning of Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as Bond starts with a bang – or a leap, more accurately, as the spy bungee jumps from the top of a Soviet chemical weapons facility. He hurtles into the abyss with only the sound of the wind roaring past his ears, and the rope – thankfully – catching around his ankles. The stunt, which was shot at the 220-metre-tall Contra (or Verzasca) Dam in Ticino, Switzerland, has consistently been rated one of the best of all time. The exceptionally courageous can re-enact the scene for themselves with a bungee jump experience. Will you choose the classic 007 jump, or up the ante even further with a backwards leap of faith?

Skyfall

Spy Movie Locations Skyfall Glencoe Mountains
Credit: Mikk Tõnissoo/Unsplash

Daniel Craig’s third outing as Bond covers locations close to home – among them Shanghai and Macao. But the truth is that none of these scenes were shot on location: a London skyscraper stood in for its considerably loftier Shanghai counterpart, while the Macao casino – complete with some 300 floating lanterns and nine-metre-tall dragon heads – was all constructed on the sound stages of the UK’s legendary Pinewood Studios. It wasn’t all cinema trickery, however: Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar was cleared out for the opening scene’s frantic motorbike chase, the streets of London played host to much of the action, and the rugged, ragged greenery of Scotland’s Glen Coe served as Bond’s childhood stomping grounds in the finale.

Agent Mr Chan

Hong Kong Movie Agent Mr Chan - Foxglove bar restaurant Art Deco
Credit: Courtesy of Foxglove

As a Hong Kong movie, you’d expect secret agent farce Agent Mr Chan to make good use of the city’s locations. But one of the film’s best scenes comes from a location given a bit of a twist. The debonair Mr Chan steps off a pier and into a submarine… which happens to house an impeccably stylish gambling den. The set for that den comes courtesy of Hong Kong’s own Foxglove, a bar and restaurant hidden behind an umbrella shop whose Art Deco style makes it the ideal location. Whereas the maybe not-quite-so-debonair-any more Mr Chan orders ‘a martini shaken and stirred’, we’d advise sticking to just one of those two.

Hong Kong Bond

Golden Gun 2 - James Bond in Hong Kong
Credit: Bay Leung

In 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun, James Bond (Roger Moore) travels to Hong Kong to track down evil assassin Scaramanga. He visits, among other places, The Peninsula hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui’s venerable (and no longer existing) Bottoms Up girlie bar, and the wreck of RMS Queen Elizabeth, which lay abandoned in Victoria Harbour between 1972 and 1975 – but in the movie was the Hong Kong headquarters of MI6.

Meanwhile, 2002’s Die Another Day sees Pierce Brosnan’s Bond swim to freedom and haul himself onto land next to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club – but in fact the scene was shot on a London sound stage.

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