Twilight of the Warriers: Walled in poster

Hazing Up the Kowloon Walled City with the Fog Machine

With an opening night box office of $5 million HKD, “Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In”《九龍城寨之圍城》is quickly rising as one of the highest-grossing blockbusters of all time in Hong Kong Cinema. Selected as one of the Official Selection of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, the story is set in the wildly infamous buildings of the Kowloon Walled City during the 1980s, celebrating a thrilling tale of youth, friendship, and resistance with a lot of martial arts / intense fight scenes. PMI is immensely grateful to have assisted in the production of this film: our handheld fog machine, the SmokeGENIE, played a significant role in creating the atmospheric setting needed in the narrow alleyways of the reconstructed city walls. In this blog post, we delve into the origins of this exciting collaboration and the technical intricacies of the project

Narrow corridors of the set

The Practical Advantages of the Fog Machine

The were two distinctly unique challenges with the use of fog and haze on this set: the space and the nature of fight scenes. The space issue is self-explanatory: the “Kowloon walled city” is known to be one of the most dense and cramped infrastructure to be ever built in human history, with dark alleyways and back rooms only fitting 1-2 people at a time. The film intends to capture that with realistic sets that has the same level of crowdedness and lack of space. As such, the idea of involving traditional hazers were ruled out early on in production, as the size of traditional machines won’t be practical in the logistical sense. With the help of SmokeGENIE, the production team was able to plant the fog machine inside the set, including mounting it on the ceiling and build it into the sewer ducts, allowing the fog and haze to come out practically in frame.

Another technical challenge came with the many intense fight scenes featured in this film; a popular technique in Martial arts cinematography is that when trying to “sell” a hit in camera, usually the same punch will be shot with multiple camera angles, usually both close up and wide angle, so as to capture the “impact” and “reaction” of the punch in the same frame (this concept is very well explained by the YouTube video below).

As a result, it will be very important that the fog machine can be move away quickly and not be a logistical burden for limiting camera angles. Being handheld and highly adjustable in real time really helped saving production time and allow more room for experimentation. 

As director Soi Cheang and stunt coordinator Kenji Tanigaki explained: “in this movie, we want to combine the realism and comical aspect of fight scenes; a lot of the time was spent just figuring out the right camera angles to best communicate the action sequences.”

The fog machine in action

“Walled in” as SmokeGENIE’s debut in full-length feature films

The production of this film began in 2021; back then smokeGENIE was still a production prototype, during that time, our co-founder Micky Wong has been taking prototypes to beta-test and assist several music videos and TV commercials.

This caught the attention of Director Soi Cheang, and their team reached out to PMI to explore the possibility of having several units of SmokeGENIE on set to handle the majority of the haze effects on set. After Several pre-production tests, 2 units of pre-production SmokeGENIE prototypes were provided to the production team to assist the entire shoot. The entire production lasted for 4 months.

At the end of the shoot, director Cheang was generous enough to mark his autograph on one of our prototypes, as a commemoration of this successful shoot.

The original SmokeGENIE signed by Director Soi Cheang

Born in the Trenches of Hong Kong Cinema

The fog machine's compact size and manoeuvrability made it a valuable tool in navigating the infamously tight spaces of the recreated Kowloon Walled City set. Narrow corridors, tight alleyways, and hard-to-reach crevices were easy to reach for the SmokeGENIE. The dense fog added depth and mystique to the scenes, amplifying the sense of claustrophobia and tension within the Walled City. This highly practical advantage not only contributes to the visual aesthetics of the film but also enhances the immersive experience for the audience. The raving reviews of the movie made this point clear.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the film. “Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In” now on the big screens on May 1, 2024.


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