This week, Hong Kong's famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant made international headlines when it capsized while being towed out to sea. The triple-decker barge, once considered the world's largest floating restaurant, had been moored in Aberdeen Harbour for almost fifty years. It closed in 2020 due to the pandemic but remained a recognizable city landmark — one that's appeared in several movies. Conflicting reports about whether it has already sunk or remains afloat have been supplemented by claims in major news outlets that it featured in the Bruce Lee film "Enter the Dragon" and the James Bond film "The Man with the Golden Gun," starring Roger Moore.
The only problem with that is that Jumbo Floating Restaurant opened in 1976 and those two movies came out in 1973 and 1974, respectively. There seems to be some confusion between it and other floating facilities in Hong Kong and nearby Macau, including the adjacent Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, which made up the other half of the tourist destination collectively referred to as Jumbo Kingdom. Part of the confusion may stem from the fact that Jumbo Floating Restaurant was originally set to open years earlier before it burned down in 1971 in a fire that killed 34 people and injured 42 others. Fortunately, no casualties were reported in the rebuilt restaurant's capsizing this week.
According to its official website, Queen Elizabeth II, Tom Cruise, Chow Yun Fat, and Gong Li were among the 30 million visitors to Jumbo Kingdom in its day. You also may have seen Godzilla stomping past it and Gwyneth Paltrow becoming patient zero for a fictional pandemic inside it. Here, we'll attempt to set the record straight with screenshots and details about some of the specific movie scenes where Jumbo Floating Restaurant did and didn't appear.
Enter The Dragon (1973)
At one time, Jumbo Kingdom consisted of three different floating restaurant barges. The third one, the Sea Palace, was reportedly towed to Manila in 2000, where it spent the next eight years operating as Jumbo Kingdom Manila. Both it and Tai Pak Floating Restaurant predate the larger Jumbo Floating Restaurant, and it's them you can spot in "Enter the Dragon."
Released posthumously in 1973, "Enter the Dragon" was Bruce Lee's final finished film before his death. The movie uses Aberdeen Harbour as a frame setting for a series of flashbacks that reveal more of the backstory of Lee's character along with that of Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly).
On their way to a martial arts tournament on a private island, the men first ride along in separate boats, identified by Lalo Schifrin's soundtrack as sampans. When they link up on the main boat to the island, the camera pulls back to reveal the whole, houseboat-filled harbor, which Roper likens to a "ghetto."
The orange-roofed Sea Palace and green-roofed Tai Pak Floating Restaurant can be seen near the bottom lefthand corner. On the right, you can also see what looks like a concrete foundation. South Morning China Post notes that only "the burnt-out shell" of the first Jumbo Floating Restaurant can be seen in "Enter the Dragon." That may be what we're looking at there, since the second barge, despite its floating name, was supported on concrete.
Still, while the remains of the first destroyed Jumbo Floating Restaurant might technically make a rather fleeting appearance in "Enter the Dragon," the imprecise wording of some news sources that mention it could paint a misleading picture of a movie location that hadn't really come into existence yet.
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
It's not clear where the oft-repeated claim about Jumbo Floating Restaurant appearing in "The Man with the Golden Gun" originated, but the Hong Kong-based site Friday Everyday refutes the claim as inaccurate. The second James Bond film to star Roger Moore does feature scenes set and filmed in Hong Kong locales like the onetime Bottoms Up Club in Kowloon (which proudly advertised its 007 link on its street sign). However, as far as the future Jumbo Floating Restaurant goes, the only comparable location mentioned in sources like IMDb and Movie-Locations.com is the Floating Macau Palace.
In the movie, Bond heads to Macua in search of the gunsmith Lazar (Marne Maitland), who makes bullets for the titular golden gun wielded by Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). The first establishing shot we see of Macau is a neon sign for the Casino de Macau.
After Bond finds Lazar, we observe them gambling in a casino. The above sources cite the Floating Macau Palace as the filming location for this scene. Another Hong Kong-based site, The Harbour Times, does mention that Moore once visited Jumbo Kingdom, though it sounds like they're using the name retroactively to refer to one of the floating restaurants that would later be united under the same ownership and take on that group name in 1987.
It's certainly possible that director Guy Hamilton could have recreated the casino interior the way Steven Soderbergh later would for his film "Contagion," shooting it in Tai Pak Floating Restaurant or even Jumbo Floating Restaurant while it was under construction. Yet, it's just as possible that memories of Moore's celebrity restaurant visit (former U.S. president Jimmy Carter was another notable guest) were simply conflated with the movie scene of Bond aboard a floating casino in Macau.
The Protector (1985)
Jackie Chan worked as a stunt double for Bruce Lee and had a bit part in "Enter the Dragon," but by 1985, he was coming into his own as the new face of martial arts action in Hong Kong cinema. "The Protector" was a Hong Kong-American co-production that paired Chan with Danny Aiello ("Do the Right Thing") and marked his second foray into the U.S. movie market.
In "The Protector," Chan and Aiello's two New York cops, Billy Wong and Danny Garoni, do what Batman did in "The Dark Knight" and head to Hong Kong. They're on the trail of a kidnapped girl and a crime boss played by Roy Chiao ("Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom").
There's a scene toward the end where they formulate a plan with Soo Ling (Moon Lee) and Stan Jones (Kim Bass) on a boat right in front of Jumbo Floating Restaurant. The top of the barge has some scaffolding on it, but you can see it centered behind them.
In his camouflage pants and red '80s headband, Jones reveals that he was a Navy SEAL and proceeds to pull out a hidden compartment with some uzis and "a portable, six-shot, 20mm cannon" that he acquired from an Israeli friend. The big "JUMBO" sign is plainly visible over his shoulder. While you might come back frustrated if you go looking for Jumbo Floating Restaurant in "Enter the Dragon" or "The Man with the Golden Gun," there's no denying that it's there and you're in the right place with "The Protector."
Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995)
"Godzilla vs. Destoroyah" pits the King of Monsters against a bat-winged fellow kaiju whose name makes it sound like he was born to destroy. The 22nd Godzilla film placed high in our definitive ranking of franchise entries, and it wastes no time in visiting Hong Kong. Within the first two and a half minutes, you can see Godzilla striding up alongside Jumbo Floating Restaurant.
Our first view of this comes at a slight distance, from in front of Wong Chuk Hang Shum Wan Pier, where you would go if you were catching the free shuttle ferry to Jumbo Floating Restaurant. You can see the smaller sign for the separate Tai Pak Floating Restaurant pier beside it on the left, with the actual barge in the background between the two piers.
Then we get a classic view from closer up of people's heads looking up at Godzilla as he almost poses behind Jumbo Floating Restaurant like some monstrous movie tourist.
Godzilla has a long-standing tradition of rampaging past well-known urban landmarks and sometimes destroying them. In live-action, he most recently did it again in "Godzilla vs. Kong," which saw him and King Kong squaring off in the middle of Hong Kong's Central business district with recognizable skyscrapers like the Bank of China Tower right next to them.
Infernal Affairs II (2003)
Though its title makes it sound like a sequel, "Infernal Affairs II" is actually a prequel to the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller that Martin Scorsese relocated to Boston and remade as "The Departed." In the movie, Jumbo Floating Restaurant is where police inspector Chi-shing Wong (Anthony Wong, playing the original version of Martin Sheen's character) arrests triad leader Wing-hau Ngai.
As you can see in the lead image for this article, "Infernal Affairs II" gives a good look at the front of the barge reflected in the water at night, approaching it head-on the way you would have if you were riding the aforementioned shuttle ferry to it.
Inside the facility — which was designed to look like a Chinese imperial palace — Ngai, his lawyer, and other officials gather on the third floor, drinking champagne, discussing zodiac signs, and celebrating the Handover of Hong Kong from the U.K. to China in 1997.
When Wong and his police team crash the party, they come walking up the staircase and round the corner past the elaborate, Ming dynasty-style mosaic mural that once graced the second floor of Jumbo Floating Restaurant. It was valued at HK$6 million (over $750,000).
At the beginning of Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion," the movie that predicted the pandemic, we see Gwyneth Paltrow's character, Beth Emhoff, talking on the phone. The camera follows her credit card as she passes it to the bartender and the bartender walks over to her touchscreen cash register, unknowingly setting off a chain of surface transmission with a deadly new virus that will affect the globe.
Soderbergh then establishes the setting: "Kowloon Hong Kong, population 2.1 million." We see the city's world-famous Star Ferry docking, and later, there comes a flashback where Emhoff, now established as patient zero, blows on dice for luck and infects another gambler as she plays Hoo Hey How (Fish-Prawn-Crab) at a casino. According to the production notes for "Contagion:"
"One of the film's key scenes takes place in a Macau casino, but, since filming around the gaming tables is prohibited, the production re-created the room at the landmark Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong's Aberdeen Harbor."
The casino flashback is filmed mostly around one Hoo Hey How table, in tight close-ups with blurry edges, so we don't get much of a feel for the restaurant's décor. At the end, however, the movie comes full circle and shows us how a fateful handshake between Emhoff and a chef at the casino — who didn't wash his hands after handling raw meat — led to her infection.
The very last image is the two of them posing for a picture together on "Day 1" of the pandemic. Here we do see more of the restaurant interior with its golden rooster decorations, though it's not clear which of Jumbo Floating Restaurant's banquet halls served as the filming location.
To be clear, the Golden Dragon Casino in "Skyfall" is not a real place that was filmed on location anywhere, though as photos of the somewhat similar Jumbo Floating Restaurant have circulated this week, you can still find some Redditors asking, "Wasn't that in Skyfall?"
The movie sees Daniel Craig's modern version of James Bond being ferried through a glowing dragon's mouth to a watery casino decorated by floating lanterns. Inside, he meets the alluring Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) and tussles with goons in a Komodo dragon pit.
The official 007 Instagram account revealed that the Golden Dragon Casino was created at Pinewood Studios in England and that it was inspired by a floating restaurant that production designer Dennis Gassner saw while location scouting in Shanghai. With Oscar-nominated cinematography by Roger Deakins, "Skyfall" does feature memorable night shots of the skyscrapers of Pudong in Shanghai and the neon-blue Yan'an Elevated Road.
When I visited the real Jumbo Floating Restaurant in 2013 — well before the pandemic or any of the protests and political upheaval that have shaken Hong Kong in recent years — it was with the understanding that this was not a real Bond movie location, but rather a spiritual cousin to the one in "Skyfall." As Bond ventures into the Golden Dragon Casino in Macau, it harkens back to the Casino de Macau in "The Man with the Golden Gun."
In that movie, the character also stops off on the capsized RMS Queen Elizabeth in the harbor in Hong Kong. Oddly enough, the fate of that ship now mirrors the one suffered by Jumbo Floating Restaurant in June 2022.
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