Chedun: Where China's best films are made
Every year, thousands of young Chinese migrants flock to Chedun (车墩镇) -- either hoping to get a foothold in Shanghai with a job on an assembly line or pursuing their dream of becoming the next Jackie Chan (成龙).
In addition to housing a 40-square-kilometer industrial zone, Chedun is also home to Shanghai Film Park (上海影视乐园), one of China's biggest movie studios.
Fake Shanghai, ghost town and a great green space
The film park lies only a couple of blocks away from a dusty, noisy and truck-loaded highway and down a side lane filled with noodle restaurants, massage parlours, Internet cafés and short-stay apartments -- an unassuming place to launch some of Asia's best films.
Opened in 1998, the 400,000-square-meter compound witnesses the production of more than 100 films and TV series every year, with headlining titles like "Lust, Caution," "Perhaps Love" and "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor."
A walk through the park is an eerie experience.
The expansive space is mostly occupied by reproductions of landmarks (only the facades) from the colonial Shanghai period, such as Nanjing Lu, Moller Villa and the former Peace Plaza on the Bund.
A diverting collection of Western style buildings and props jump into horizon now and then, including a Tudor-style winery and a Titanic-like ferry made with cardboard (erected on a deserted patch of grass).
The recommended stops for Chinese movie mavens are the Moller Villa complex, Nanjing Lu and the iron bridge, where you are likely to catch film crews in action or, if you are lucky, get autographs from film stars like Gong Li (巩俐) and Andy Lau (刘德华).
For adventurous travelers, walk behind the facades for a view of abandoned buildings and props, which is almost as ghostly as the deserted Wonderland in Beijing.
Surprisingly, the functioning film studio also houses a pleasant green space. Walk past the "Suzhou Creek," turn right and keep walking till the end, you'll find a small scenic spot with a tranquil lake, weeping willows, pebble-paved paths and a forested island.
Hilarious Kung Fu Show
There are very few benches in the film park for visitors to rest, but a hilarious kung fu performance (in studio no.5) provides a quick way to refuel.
Staged twice a day (10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.), the budget stage show borrows its plot from a popular Chinese TV series "Shanghai Tan" and is set in 1920s Shanghai.
Prepare to see a very limited cast presenting a montage of jazz dance, a love triangle scene and (fake) kung fu fight in the 20-minute show, which is dubbed with pre-recorded dialogue in Shanghainese and Mandarin, together with combat sound effects and, amusingly, periodical sounds of mouse clicks.
A tour around Shanghai Film Park takes about two hours. Family visitors are advised to pay extra attention to children while touring as some of the movie sets are not properly maintained. For example, several safety barrels on stairs and along the creek were missing during our trip.
Visitors can reach Shanghai Film Park from downtown in three ways:
1. Shanghai Tourism Distribution Center has shuttle buses (leaving at 9 a.m.) to Shanghai Film Park every weekend.
Shanghai Tourism Distribution Center (上海旅游集散中心), 666 Tianyaoqiao Lu, below Platform 5 of Shanghai Stadium, 天钥桥路666号,上海体育场5号扶梯下, + 86 21 6426 5555, 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
2. Take Metro Line 1 to Lianhua Lu Station (莲花路站), then switch to bus Lianshi (莲石专线), Lianjin (莲金专线) or Lianfeng (莲枫专线) to Chedun. The film park is a 10-minute walk from the bus stop.
3. Take Metro LIne 9 to the last stop at Songjiang Xincheng (松江新城), and then take a RMB-30 taxi ride.
Shanghai Film Park (上海影视乐园)
4915 Beisong Gong Lu, near Xinche Gong Lu
+86 21 5760 1166
Admission: RMB 50
This article was first published in January, 2012, updated February, 2013.