If you were surfing through Netflix over the past few weeks, you may have found it hard to avoid promos for Love, Death + Robots, a dark 18-part animated anthology series produced by neo-noir maestro David Fincher and Deadpool director Tim Miller exploring the connection between, well, love, death, and robots.
Though the series earned mostly positive reviews (73 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) since it appeared on Netflix unannounced last month, reactions from viewers have been mixed, with some praising the bold animation on display, and others criticizing the show’s “male gaze problem.”
One of the most polarizing episodes of the show was The Witness (it’s visually striking and full of gratuitous nudity), about a woman running for her life from a man whom she saw murder someone in the apartment across the street. What ensues is a cat-and-mouse chase through a futuristic city that is very clearly based on Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s visual hallmarks abound in the 12-minute episode: towers of styrofoam coolers, the walk-up tenements known as tong laus, green-topped minibuses, and boxy red cabs — apparently they still have a monopoly in the future. (If all those clues escaped you, keep an eye out for the road signs directing you to “Tsim Sha Tzu” and “Huh Hom.”)
The short was directed and written by Spanish animator Alberto Mielgo who worked on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and TRON: Uprising.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, he said that her got the idea to set the short in Hong Kong from a photo of Kowloon that caught his eye.
After Netflix greenlit his idea, Mielgo flew to Hong Kong from Los Angeles, and spent five days wandering Kowloon, taking photos and storyboarding sequences for the chase scenes.
In the end, the sequence included several shots that are, if not outright depictions of real Hong Kong locales, then certainly very thinly veiled references to them.
Mei On Street, Tai Kok Tsui
Hung Hom Road
Willow Mansions, Whampoa Estate
Dock Street, Hung Hom
Hung Hom Road and Tak Fung Street intersection
Anchor Street, Tai Kok Tsui
(Oh, and if all that doesn’t quite satisfy your Hong Kong setting/gratuitous nudity needs, you can also check out the Good Hunting episode, which features our very own Peak Tram — as well as a vengeful, frequently naked woman/fox spirit/steampunk cyborg murdering British colonialists.)