The city of Ipoh is like a sleeping beauty that has been frozen in time after a pompous banquet. When Hong Kong and Shanghai are experiencing unrecognizable transformation, Ipoh still retains it quaint old streets that have created an irresistible appeal among international movie makers.
Malaya gained her independence in 1957. Following the departure of the British colonizers, the city of Ipoh has since inherited a large number of uniquely styled building. The collapse of the international tin market in the 1980s has to some extent frozen the development of Ipoh.
When China was experiencing unprecedented economic boom thanks to its reformation, large numbers of old hutongs and antique mansions were bulldozed to make way for sparkling new highrises. When Hong Kong and Singapore were marching decisively towards modernization, many old shophouses were demolished. But at the same time, Ipoh has allowed its old buildings to nestle comfortably, untouched.
Into the 21st century, people began to realize the charms of yesteryear were no longer found in their cities. So they traveled all the way to Ipoh from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore to look for the old-world rustic charms that made perfect settings for their cinema to graphic masterpieces.
Hollywood blockbuster “Anna and the King” starring Chow Yun-fat and Jodie Foster, was shot at the Ipoh Royal Golf Club built in 1985 and the Victorian railway station in Ipoh built in 1915.
Gaining international prominence
“After This Our Exile” starring Aaron Kwok and Charlie Yeung was shot in the streets of Ipoh all the way to Pasir Pinji, drawing the eyeballs of movie makers towards the lovely town of Ipoh.
“Lust, Caution” directed by Oscar winning director Ang Lee was shot at Ipoh Old Town along Chung On Siew and other streets that resemble the streets of Hong Kong and Shanghai in the 1940s.
Hong Kong movie “Skyline Cruisers” starring Leon Lai and Shu Kei who joined hands to counter Alex To at Kellie’s Castle near Batu Gajah.
“The Biography Of Buddha” starring Ray Lui was shot at the iconic Foh San Cafe in Ipoh and the gaharu tea farm in Gopeng.
The dilapidated Nanyang Hotel became the scene of local blockbuster “The Journey” while the sequel was shot a Menglembu near the state capital. Other local movies have also found their perfect settings in Ipoh, including “Road of Enlightenment.”
Another Hong Kong new film “Ji Xiang Da Jiu Dian” was also drawn to the charming city of Ipoh, having some of its breathtaking scenes shot at the Concubine Lane in Old Town, the Ipoh Padang as well as the iconic railway station.
Hong Kong movie stars Chapman To and Michelle Ye found themselves deeply in love with Ipoh because of the movie “King of Mahjong” shot in the city, and have since made Ipoh their second home.
Combining the best in aesthetic values of traditional Chinese and European architectures, Ipoh has drawn the attention of many international movie makers that have in turn brought the city to global prominence.