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5 Award-Winning Movies Set in Macau

  • Written By Kevin Parker
  • Edited
  • Reading 6 minutes

Macau carries on strongly. Deemed the gambling Mecca of Asia and under a tight, yet strangely accommodating control by China, gambling in Macau has been booming. Well-heeled make the trek towards the peninsula and try their luck at the gaming tables, except in the cases when Chinese President Xi Jinping is paying a visit.

Other than being a favorite gateway of affluent Chinese and international moguls, Macau has often turned into the setting of a flick or two. Movies depicting gambling and casino scenes have inevitably found their way to this heaven in the East.

And today, we have put a list to help you find out more about some of the top movies set in this far-flung land full of excitement. Macau’s casinos are now busy with film making crews bustling all through the Grand Lisboa, Venetian Macao, City of Dreams and MGM Macau.

But what makes Macau such a special place for movie makers? Is it the exotic mix of culture? Is it the fact that while China remains shrouded in mystery the peninsula has espoused an ideology closer to the Western World? We find out through the lens of the best movies set in Macau!

1. Skyfall

Whether you love the James Bond franchise, think it’s too sexist or perhaps too implausible, past its prime or something else, it’s hard to deny the appeal of Daniel Craig. Incarnating the famous Agent 007, Craig pulls off a performance worthy of the praise it has received, and specifically the 8 BAFTA awards nominations.

Skyfall Casino Macau
Skyfall casino scene in Macau. Credit: Columbia Pictures,
Eon Productions

On his way to chasing villains, the MI6 confidence man is dispatched to Macau where he confronts Raoul Silva, a man bent on destroying the intelligence services, on an island off the coast of Macau. After an intense action scene, Silva is allegedly dispatched to the great beyond only to return later and pose a graver threat the agency has known.

Macau’s beauty shows in the movie, but there is one important twist. The Macau scene was actually shot at Pinewood Studios. Yet, the success of the production and good cinematography left no doubt that Mr. Bond took on a villain somewhere off the coast of Macau.

2. Now You See Me 2

Jesse Eisenberg has long struggled with his writing career, and yet, for all his artist torment, he has been delivering one compelling screen performance after another. His role as J. Daniel “Danny” Atlas in the first movie, sets Eisenberg as the clever progeny of a magician who was wronged by a rival.

Now You See Me 2 Macau
Walter Mabry’s Hideout in Now You See Me 2. Credit: K/O Paper Products,
TIK Films

Dedicated to take down the person responsible for his father’s death, Danny puts together a team of illusionists who start delivering flashy scene magic, robbing banks in real time to the dismay of law enforcement.

In “Now You See Me 2,” the gang is back together but the Four Horsemen – as their quarter is known – get restless as they go into hiding and they don’t have sufficient opportunities to exercise their talents.

Kidnapped by a tech genius Walter Mabry (played by Daniel Radcliffe) who faked his own death, the gang now has to steal a decrypting device capable of hacking into any electronic gizmo around the world.

Since Mabry’s hideout is in Macau and most of the action has been shot in the peninsula, it’s easy to see why this pick is on our list. Not least of all, however, we find the plot to be outstanding.

3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Shot back in 1984 and one of George Lucas’ absolute best, Indiana Jones is one of the most memorable movie releases of all times. You may not be entirely sure who Indy is, especially if you are a modern viewer, but the movie must be one of the boldest adventures of cinematography ever to grace the big screen.

Indiana Jones in Macau
Opening Scene from Temple of Doom. Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Better yet, the movie’s opening scene was set in Macau. Even though you are led to believe that the first minutes are in Shanghai, that’s actually the peninsula you see. Definitely something to keep in mind. Macau just seems to have its hold over cinematographers who have repeatedly opted to set independent scenes in the gambling paradise.

In recent years, Hollywood producers have been paying a closer look at Macau as a possible destination for their flicks. It all started with The Man with the Golden Gun back in 1974 and things have been steadily picking up.

4. The Man with the Golden Gun

Speaking of Macau and gambling, this certainly attracts a certain type of people. Roger Moore’s James Bond definitely comes to mind. In 1974, cinematographers who wanted to catch a glimpse of exotic casinos would inevitably need to go to Macau, the Rome of gambling in Asia.

Man with the Golden Gun Macau
Roger Moore as James Bond. Credit: Eon Productions

And so, Moore’s agent sets out on a trip to the exotic to Macau as at the time Hong Kong and Thailand couldn’t provide Hollywood with casinos. It’s in this exotic set-up James Bond will face off with Scaramanga, a cunning villain whose reputation precedes him.

Ranked No. 2 in Esquire’s all-time list of James Bond villains, Scaramanga is definitely a formidable enemy who evokes class as well as a plan to end the established order in the world and reshape it in his own image.

5. Skiptrace

In 2014, MGM Macau decided to sponsor a Hollywood movie featuring Jackie Chan, and revealing a smart new advertisement move. Set on the casino’s property – or in the very least some part of it – Skiptrace is a traditional Jackie Chan movie.

Skiptrace in Macau
Johnny Knoxville walking through MGM Macau. Credit: Cider Mill Pictures, JC Group International

It’s lighthearted, funny and quick with action scenes orchestrated to amuse and impress. Yet, the MGM Macau is not the only casino that has appeared in movie scenes. The Venetian and Galaxy Entertainment Group have had their properties featured in various productions.

In all cases, though, the idea behind shooting a big part of a movie on the premises of a casino is quite simple – raising the global profile of a property. The movie industry seems to have its pull and for anyone who has happened to have a quick look at Skiptrace, their next getaway destination could very well be Macau.

Kevin was raised on sports since a young teen and following a (fortunate) injury pursued new hobbies in table games such as Blackjack and Poker. Since 2009 Kevin has been writing for casino sites for various big names in the industry and CasinoSites.us is but one of his latest passion projects.