Entering the Emperor's Forbidden City (The Karate Kid - Copyright 2010 - Sony Pictures)
I have always had this fascination with movie making and filming locations. Not quite sure why. Maybe because…. I don’t know. It’s hard to psycho-analyze yourself. LOL
I had a trip planned to Beijing. As The Karate Kid was made in Beijing for the most part, and I really liked the movie, I decided to see what I could find.
I took an afternoon while in Beijing and looked up some filming locations for The Karate Kid. Having done some research before getting there, I had figured out where some of them were. Some I had already seen such as the Forbidden City. It turned out to be fun afternoon, but I am sure my taxi driver probably thought I was crazy. He got to see the locations as well, but I don’t think he understood what movie I was talking about. His English was very minimal. Still, he was a good sport and helped me take pictures.
It was ironic that they showed The Karate Kid on national tv for the first time, while I was there. Maybe he saw it and recognized the locations.
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So, here is the locations that I found. Most are confirmed through extensive research, and some are my best guess. I have marked them on a Google map for Beijing, and a Google map for the Great Wall, just in case you want to find them yourself. Enjoy.
Beijing Filming Locations
Here is a map with locations in Beijing that were used to film The Karate Kid. I have not found all locations, but I have most pinned on the map.
**Should be viewed in Satellite View as Map View does not line up.
Location Legend: Fengtai Sports Center Beijing Luxun Middle School
The Forbidden City Capital International Airport O-G-B-Fun
751 D-Park Arts Quarter Beijing Shaolin Wushu School Beijing Film Studio
Click on pins for info Zoom in to see stacked pins Full info below map Click here for larger map
View The Karate Kid Filming Locations in Beijing on a larger map
Most of the locations from the movie have been located, and marked on the map. There is a studio outside Beijing where interior sets were used for some scenes, such as Dre’s apartment interior, the CheChe Festival, and the school auditorium. So, don’t expect to see those on the map above.
Fengtai Sports Center
#8 Fengti South Road, Fengtai
This athletic facility includes a baseball stadium and a badminton/volleyball hall. Some of the 2008 Olympics softball games were played here.
Kung Fu Tournament – Fengtai Sports Center ??
The chance for Dre to finally make his enemies respect him, or die trying. Maybe the Badminton Gym was used for this, but not sure. That building does not seem to be square enough. Not confirmed on ground, but in film credits.
Beijing Luxun Middle School
#45 Xin Wen Hua Jie (New Culture Street), XiCheng District, Beijing
This location is the Former Beijing Women’s Normal College, a place where women teachers were trained. Today, it is actually an active middle school. The front gate and the exercise ground are both here. The auditorium was reported to actually be a studio set at the new movie studio, not the Beijing Film Studios referenced below, so don’t expect to find it here. This one took a lot of time to find. *The current middle school is named after Lu Xun, a famous Chinese teacher and writer.
Dre’s Middle School #1 – Front Gate – Beijing Luxun Middle School
Here is the scene where Dre and his mother first meet his teacher at the school. Also where he and Meiying escape for their afternoon of O-G-B-Fun. Confirmed by satellite image.
Additional notes about Beijing *Luxun Middle School:
Dre’s Middle School #2 – Exercise Ground – Beijing Luxun Middle School
The school exercise scene where Dre and Meiying’s have the conversations about his need for a good teacher for the tournament. Confirmed by satellite image.
The Forbidden City
This massive palace complex is almost 600 years old. Finished in 1420, this was the home of the Ming Emperors from 1420 to 1644. At that time, a new dynasty was started called the Qing Emperors. They lived here until early part of the 20th century. This awesome wonder is known all over the world, so it made a great background for some of the movie’s scenes. **Once you enter the Forbidden City on the south entrance, you have to go through and exit the north entrance. That is a considerable distance from where you went in. It is “one-way” only. Plan for that.
Forbidden City #1 – Tiananmen Gate Entrance
This is where the school group gathered outside Tiananmen Gate, and then entered the Forbidden City. This is the normal tourist entrance for everyone. They almost got in trouble with the local security while filming here. Location personally confirmed.
Forbidden City #2 – Entrance to Hall of Supreme Harmony Courtyard
This is where the school group goes through the massive red doors reserved for the Emperor. They go though in the direction of north. You can see the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the background. These doors are normally sealed with a tourist information desk in front of them. It must have been special for the film crew to get permission to use them. Dre’s and Meiying’s conversation is shot here. Shooting time was very limited due to tourist hours, so shooting was finished elsewhere in the Forbidden City. Location personally confirmed. As a side note, this structure that has the doors they are passing though is actually known as the Hall of Central Harmony (or Preserving Harmony; I have seen it listed both ways).
Forbidden City #3 – Secondary Filming of Emperor’s Red Door
The scene where the camera is looking down the door from the top was shot here. You can tell this is a different door as there are not gold horizontal plates at the bottom as there are on the door in Forbidden City #2. You are not supposed to notice that it is a different door, but I am sure they had to move to this one as it was easier to shoot this shot. Plus, they were pressed for time as this was a major tourist attraction. Location personally confirmed.
Forbidden City #4 – Dre conversation with Teacher
The teacher speaks to Dre and asks if anything is wrong. Camera is looking south southwest and you can see the battlement ramps in the background. Location personally confirmed.
Capital International Airport
This is the main airport for Beijing. It has more than one terminal, but everything that appears in the movie seems to have been filming in the main entrance hall for the brand new Terminal 3.
Airport Statue – Capital International Airport Terminal #3
The center of the entrance hall on the upper level has the “globe with 4 dragons” statue. This is actually called the Ziwei Chenheng, and is a replicate of a statue from 117 AD (or CE if you really hate religion that badly). The statue correct shows the rotation of the sun, moon, and stars and was driven by a water gear. If you fly China Air or United into Beijing, you will pass through this hall. Location personally confirmed.
Airport Pickup by Guide – Capital International Airport Terminal #3 ??
This is where the female guide met Dre and his mother. I was unable to confirm exactly where “Station 5” was, but it was in this hall somewhere, I think. Location not confirmed, but probable.
Trey and Meiying have a great time skipping school and go to several places in Beijing. Here is a list of them.
O-G-B-Fun #1 – Possible WangFuJing Scorpion Scene
This would be where Meiying threatens Dre with a stick of scorpions. This is only a possible location as exotic food stalls are located in more than one place on WangFuJing Street. This is one of the more probably ones as it appears to be a pedestrian street in the movie, and this one is listed as WangFuJing Pedestrian Street. Location not confirmed.
O-G-B-Fun #2 – Watercube Olympic Fountains
This is the second place that Dre and Meiying go for the afternoon of fun. They play in the fountains and Dre attempts to get Meiying to “see” her reflection in the pool of water. Location confirmed by satellite map.
O-G-B-Fun #3 – Jingshan Park
This is where Dre and Meiying overlook the Forbidden City to the south. She gets the call that the audition time has changed and rushed away. This is at foot of the Wanchun Pavilion, on the south side, on top of the hill in Jingshan Park. Location personally confirmed.
751 D-Park Arts Quarter
798 Art District, Chaoyang
A fairly new arts district that has been created from some industrial buildings on the northeast side of Beijing. You will pass this going from the main airport to central Beijing.
Train Exteriors – D-Park 751 Train
This is the train cars used for the train exteriors where Dre and Mr Han travel to and from Wudang Mountain. Perhaps they used the train interiors, but I expect they built that is a sound stage where they could control the lighting better. Research lead me to this conclusion. Location not confirmed.
Beijing Shaolin Wushu School
No.386, Changping Road, Dewai Xisanqi Hui Long Guan
This is a large kung fu school in the northwest part of Beijing. I did get a chance to visit there and briefly tour the campus. The school is actually accessed from the south parking area in front of the main dorm. You can get a picture of the front of the south entrance from across the street, but no areas inside or behind the school are accessible. **Please note – the school was not prepared to receive any visitors, especially English speaking. It is not advisable to even try. They were kind to me, but definitely did not want to show me around.
Wushu School #1 – Watertower – Beijing Shaolin Wushu School
This is the water tower that Dre sees that leads him and his mother into the Wushu school of his enemy. **Note – this is a private parking area and is not accessible. The water tower can be viewed from the street on the north of the railroad tracks. Location personally verified.
Wushu School #2 – Main Gate – Beijing Shaolin Wushu School
This is the main gate that Dre and his mother walk through. This is in reality a back gate. Location personally confirmed. **Note – this is a private parking area and is not accessible.
Wushu School #3 – Practice Field – Beijing Shaolin Wushu School
This is the main practice field where Dre and his mother see all the students out doing their movements in unison. Very impressive scene. **Read warning above. Location personally confirmed.
Wushu School #4 – Interior Gym – Beijing Shaolin Wushu School
This is where we first see that Cheng is being instructed at this school. Dre, of course, is discouraged by this. This is also where Dre and Mr. Han come later to ask for peace, and end up committing to the Kung Fu tournament. ** Read warning above. Location personally confirmed.
Beijing Film Studio
#77 N. 3rd Ring Road West, Haidian
This is the old Beijing Film Studio where many of the Chinese Communist films were made in the past. Much of The Karate Kid was filmed here . Unfortunately, it is being demolished as the land has been sold for development. Therefore, many of the locations listed below no longer exist. Jackie Chan said it was the last movie to be filmed there. Maybe they made in some more after TKK.
Mr Han’s Home – Beijing Film Studios
Film set on the backlot. Custom built from previous sets. Location confirmed through unnamed methods.
Playground Outside Trey’s Apartment – Beijing Film Studios
This is where Dre plays ping-pong, plays basketball, meets Meiying, and fights with Cheng, all on the first day. Ha. Busy fellow. The location for the playground (or park as Harry calls it) is not the actual green area that you see in front of the apartment building. A little Hollywood switch-a-roo. I will say that those ping pong tables are massively sturdy, having seen them with my own eyes. Location personally confirmed.
Beverly Hills Luxury Apartment – Beijing Film Studios
This is where Dre and his mother move into apartment 305. My understanding is that the actual set used for the apartment interior was not in this building. Not sure, but I think the apartment mailbox is there. Location personally confirmed.
Mr. Han’s “Office” – Beijing Film Studios
This is where Dre first meets Mr. Han, as he is attempting to get help with the hot water. This was definitely attached to the building used as the exterior of the apartment building. Unable to confirm if it was a temporary construct or still present. Location confirmed through unspecified methods.
Apartment Building Rear Gated Area – Beijing Film Studios
This is where Dre is pursued by Cheng and his gang, and Mr. Han intervenes to save him. This area is definitely behind the building used as the exterior of the apartment building. Whether the 2 sets of gates themselves were added for the movie and then removed, I was unable to confirm. Location confirmed by unspecified means.
Rooftop Laundry Area – Beijing Film Studios
This is where Mr. Han trains Dre in “anticipation” defense. The area is the rooftop of the same building used as the exterior of Dre’s apartment building. He did the “splits” in the northwest corner of the rooftop. Location confirmed through unspecified methods.
Cheng Jumping Wall at Gate 19 – Beijing Film Studios
Cheng jumps over the wall after Dre wires the handle of Gate 19. In fact, I think most of that “pursuit” sequence was shot at Beijing Film Studios. Certainly, from that scene on through the race through the hanging laundry. Location confirmed through unspecified means.
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Great Wall Filming Locations (Mutianyu Great Wall)
View The Karate Kid Filming Locations at the Great Wall (Mutianyu) in a larger map
The dramatic aerial scene with the Great Wall moving underneath was super impressive. Of course, the camera comes to rest on Dre and Mr Han training on top of a large tower. This turns out to be Tower 14 of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. I have marked some parts of the wall, and the way that the film crew would have gotten to the wall itself.
Top of Tower Training Location – Tower 14 – Mutianyu Great Wall
This is the tower that you see Dre and Mr Han standing on. When I visited the tower, there was no visible means to get on top. No latter, stone steps, etc. So don’t expect to be able to “reproduce” the training scene on top of the tower. Location personally confirmed.
General Helicopter Flyover Route – Mutianyu Great Wall
This is the path that the helicopter flies over to give that dramatic opening shot to the Great Wall.
Film Crew Access to the Wall – Mutianyu Great Wall Cable Car Path
Though there was at least 1 helicopter available for part of the Great Wall shoot, economics probably dictated that most or all gear and personnel came up by the cable cars. It was a much longer ride than I expected. You can actually hike to the wall if you want, but it is quite a hike.
Chinese Characters on Side of Mountain – Mutianyu Great Wall
These characters were added since 2000 as a workers tribute to Chairman Mao. You can see them clearly during the Great Wall scenes. They spell out “Long Live Chairman Mao!”, a sentiment still shared by a large part of the Chinese population.
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