There have been a fair few spy spoof’s over the years and whilst the likes of Austin Powers usually gets a lot of recognition, this comedy vehicle for Rowan Atkinson is not as fondly remembered. Not by me though as I have affectionate memories of watching the original one in a German cinema whilst I was living and working in Hamburg in 2003. Even though I enjoyed it, I was still very surprised to see it return for a sequel eight years later.
Like its predecessor, much of ‘Johnny English Reborn‘ is set in England but there’s a slightly Asian flavour to this one starting off in Tibet at a monastery (most likely a mock-up back in the studio) where he’s been honing his skills following a botched mission in Mozambique. However, he is summoned by MI7 when his agency superiors learn of an attempt against the Chinese premier’s life. Scenes in Macau and Hong Kong soon follow.
The Grand Lisboa Casino is seen in all its elaborative tackiness as English and a fellow spy arrive to meet their contact there. The first two match-ups below are of the original Lisboa Casino seen in scene-setting shots. It lies across the road from the main one with its glowing golden-bulb exterior and flaming-torch-shaped towering structure.
English follows up a lead from the casino and is then in Hong Kong at the ironically named “Kowloon Paradise Hotel” which is actually the legendary Chungking Mansions where I stayed on my first trip back in 2006. A chase scene ensues which ends up on the roof of the building featuring some parkour action.
As the chase continues, English reaches the waterfront of Victoria Harbour following a chase through Hoi Fai Road Garden (below) where he seizes control of a private yacht. It’s not really a garden as such but a bit of greenery lining the small promenade.
On screen it appears like they’ve entered the gardens but in reality its a tiny island-type area (below) of trees and plants. This place was not exactly easy to get to on foot if walking from the Mong Kok area as I tried but just couldn’t get across certain roads. The best bet is to arrive at Olympic MTR (Tung Chung Line) station and then exit through the Olympian City 1 shopping centre. It’s just a few minutes walk from there and does offer a bit of respite from the crowds.
Bonus: The original 2003 film was filmed quite extensively around London and it is Freemasons’ Hall (below) at the junction of Great Queen Street and Wild Street in Covent Garden which is both the exterior and interior of the MI7 Headquarters. With a quite interesting design this hall has been used in many other films including the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, ‘Agent Cody Banks 2’, ‘Basic Instinct 2‘ and the interior was used by director Paul Greengrass in ‘Green Zone‘ as the Republican Palace.
Japanese restaurant chain ‘Yo! Sushi’ on Belvedere Road is where English and Natalie Imbruglia meet and he gets his tie caught in the conveyor belt. Brompton Cemetery (below) on Old Brompton Road is the graveyard where English disrupts the funeral service. This cemetery can also be seen in ‘GoldenEye‘ (1995) and ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation‘ (2015).
The front page headline from ‘The Times’ newspaper that featured in the film was on show at the now defunct London Film Museum which used to be located next to the London Eye and diagonally opposite Big Ben.
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