Yangon gripped as big-budget blockbuster brings streets to standstill

28 February 2019
Yangon gripped as big-budget blockbuster brings streets to standstill
A street scene with damaged vehicles during the filming of the movie "Line Walker 2" near the Sule pagoda in Yangon on February 26, 2019. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzim

Cars dangling from cranes, street shootouts and actors rappelling from roofs -- Yangon residents were transfixed this week by the filming of a big-budget Hong Kong action movie around the city's iconic Sule pagoda.

Yangon has lent the charm of its colonial-style buildings and golden temple spires to Line Walker 2 -- the sequel to the 2016 blockbuster of the same name which grossed $90 million worldwide.

Line Walker 2 stars Hong Kong heartthrob Louis Koo and Nick Cheung.

The final day of shooting drew hundreds of locals wearing the sarong-like longyi as well as a long line of robed monks crowding onto overhead pedestrian passes, craning for a view of a choreographed gunfight.

"It is amazing to see cars flying in the air, like in the big films," Sai Mine, who was visiting Yangon from northern Shan State, told AFP.

The 25-year-old had heard about the filming and begged her sisters to take her to Sule Pagoda where the smouldering remains of a car lay nearby.

Myanmar actors were cast as well, and Aung Myint Myat said he got the "amazing" opportunity to play a SWAT team leader in the film.

"I'm really proud of it," he told AFP.

Amateur filmmaker Thar Nge expressed delight at the chance to witness the day-long process to film a scene that plays out in seconds on the silver screen.

"I am a big fan of action and adventure films and it is amazing for me to be able to see these moments," the 22-year-old told AFP.

Some were hopeful a big-budget film featuring Yangon's sights could boost tourist numbers.
While the number of Chinese tourists increased in 2018, Myanmar has seen a drop in Western visitors following news of the army's crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority in northern Rakhine state.