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Arts Gone But Not Forgotten: 8 Things Inspired By The Kowloon Walled City

Gone But Not Forgotten: 8 Things Inspired By The Kowloon Walled City

Gone But Not Forgotten: 8 Things Inspired By The Kowloon Walled City
By Oliver Giles
By Oliver Giles
October 17, 2019
The Kowloon Walled City may have been razed but it lives on in these films, video games, books and even cocktails it has inspired

1/8 40 Square Feet

40 Square Feet
40 Square Feet

This heady mix of Campari, dark rum, vermouth, plum, bitter chocolate and ambergris is named for the average living space each resident had in the Walled City, where whole families would often live in a single room. It’s one of the signature drinks at DarkSide, the moody cocktail bar at Rosewood Hong Kong.

See also: Hong Kong's Most Expensive And Luxurious Hotel Suites

2/8 Retainers of Anarchy by Howie Tsui

Installation view of Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy, exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, March 4 to May 28, 2017 (Photo: Rachel Topham, Courtesy of Vancouver Art Gallery)
Installation view of Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy, exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, March 4 to May 28, 2017 (Photo: Rachel Topham, Courtesy of Vancouver Art Gallery)

In 2017, Hong Kong-born, Vancouver-based artist Howie Tsui unveiled Retainers of Anarchy, an animation set in the Kowloon Walled City. The work is both physically and conceptually sprawling. Designed to be projected onto a 25-metre-long screen, it explores everything from the mundanity of daily life inside the Walled City to ghost stories and wuxia martial arts legends.

The work debuted at the Vancouver Art Gallery and has since been shown at Ocat Xi’an and the Ottawa Art Gallery. Next year it’s travelling to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in British Columbia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.

 

3/8 Kawasaki Warehouse

Photo: Ken Ohyama
Photo: Ken Ohyama

The Kowloon Walled City is having a particularly vibrant afterlife in Japan, where it has inspired multiple manga comics, video games and the Kawasaki Warehouse, a games arcade in suburban Tokyo modelled on the city’s dark and dingy interiors.

Look closely and you’ll find artefacts that were salvaged from the Walled City, including fluorescent signs, post boxes, calendars and birdcages. Where better to play Call of Duty: Black Ops?

See also: 48 Hours In Tokyo, Japan

4/8 City of Darkness

City of Darkness by Yu-Yi
City of Darkness by Yu-Yi

Borrowing its title from Ian Lambot and Greg Girard’s book, this graphic novel and subsequent weekly manga by writer and illustrator Yu Wing Leung—better known as Yu-Yi—was a huge success.

At its height, the manga sold more than 20,000 copies a week. Yu lived near the Walled City as a child and used to pass it on his way to school, but he was only inspired to incorporate it into his work when he bought a copy of Lambot and Girard’s book while travelling around Japan.

See also: New York's Museum Of Modern Art Set To Reopen, Bigger And Better

5/8 Batman Begins

Photo: Warner Bros.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan’s first Batman film was partly inspired by the Kowloon Walled City. The director and his production designer, Nathan Crowley, used it as the basis for The Narrows, a walled-in slum in Gotham where the Scarecrow has his lair.

6/8 Hong Kong Project

Photo: Courtesy of HK Devblog
Photo: Courtesy of HK Devblog

Are you more into cat memes than violent video games? Then Hong Kong Project is right up your alley. This soon-to-be-released game, which will be available on computer as well as on consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation, lets you explore a Kowloon Walled City as a cat. You can prowl along neon-lit corridors, leap from aircon to aircon above winding streets and much more.

7/8 Daizukan Kyuryujyou By Hiroaki Kani

Photo: amazon.com
Photo: amazon.com

After Ian Lambot and Greg Girard’s City of Darkness, Daizukan Kyuryujyou is the best-known book about the Kowloon Walled City. It’s most famous for a fold-out five-page spread featuring a detailed cross section of the Walled City drawn by Hitomi Terasawa, which reveals what a warren the buildings were.

8/8 Call of Duty: Black Ops

Photo: Call of Duty
Photo: Call of Duty

One of the most successful video games of all time, having brought in more than US$800 million for its developers, Call of Duty: Black Ops features a level in the Kowloon Walled City. Playing as CIA operatives, you dart through its dank apartments and chase enemies over rickety rooftops.

The attention to detail is impressive—the Walled City’s trademark tangle of wires and pipes trails along corridor ceilings and the game even features the city’s unmistakable caged balconies.

See also: If These Walls Could Talk: Kowloon Walled City As Captured By Photographers Ian Lambot And Greg Girard

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Arts Pop Culture Culture Kowloon Walled City Hong Kong

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