9 International Movies That Were Shot In The Philippines

Lights, camera, Pinas!

From Hollywood blockbusters to underrated indie gems, here are some of the films that found their ideal narrative backdrop in the Philippines.

Over the past few weeks, rumors have been circulating that the sequel of the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians will be shot in the Philippines. This has sparked excitement not only among fans of the movie but especially among Filipinos who are eager to see this tropical paradise of an archipelago on the big screen again. Yes, as you might be aware of, the Philippines has already been a location for several international films. From action-packed thrillers to dramatic war movies, the country has played host to a diverse range of stories and characters. Let’s take a look at some of the international movies, from monumental classics to lesser-known indie gems, that were filmed in the Philippines.

Related: Did You Know, These K-Dramas And Movies Were Shot In The Philippines?

THE Bourne Legacy

While the Philippines is no stranger to big-budget foreign productions before, it has always been a stand-in for other locations. That’s why Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy is special because it showcases the Philippines as itself. It’s also touted as the “first Hollywood film to include the Philippines in location credits on the big screen.” The fourth installment of the storied Jason Bourne franchise, Legacy features intense and expansive action setpieces that were shot in the heart of Manila.

From adrenaline-pumping chase scenes atop the rooftops of Malate and along the bustling streets of Pasay-Taft rotonda and Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, which capture the essence of Manila’s traffic, to momentous moments in the Marikina Wet Market and Navotas Fish Port, the film truly brings the city to life. And let’s not forget the breathtaking finale filmed amidst the stunning lagoons of El Nido, Palawan, where the production wrapped up.

Apocalypse Now

One of Francis Ford Coppola’s magnum opuses, Apocalypse Now is an epic war saga that chronicles the journey of a military captain on a deadly mission. While the story is set at the height of the Vietnam War, Apocalypse Now was mostly shot in the Philippines. Remember that iconic helicopter attack scene? It was shot in Baler Bay, Aurora. Other lush jungle scenes were also shot in Pagsanjan, Laguna and other parts of Luzon. The production, which lasted and was delayed for a year, was notorious for its many challenges, including a typhoon that destroyed most of the sets and a heart attack suffered by lead actor Martin Sheen during filming.


Another war movie that’s considered to be a monumental classic in Hollywood is Oliver Stone’s Platoon. Based on Stone’s experiences as a war veteran, the Academy Award-winning movie was shot primarily in the Philippines with locations that include Cavite, Mt. Makiling, and the Villamor Air Base in Manila. The production ran for over almost two months in 1986 and even coincided with the historic EDSA People Power Revolution. Oscar-nominated star Willem Dafoe even shared that he and some friends joined in the protests when the filming was paused.


Before the scenic rice terraces of Banaue in Ifugao made a cameo in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, did you know that it first captivated audiences in Peter Weir’s 1982 romantic drama, The Year of Living Dangerously? Starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver in a love story with a political flair, the film was shot in the Philippines after their requests to shoot in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the story is set, were denied. Apart from the Banaue Rice Terraces, the movie also filmed scenes in Quiapo and enlisted Filipino talents like acting veteran Bembol Roco and Philippine’s Pop Diva, Kuh Ledesma. 

Brokedown Palace

Jonathan Kaplan’s 1999 youth drama Brokedown Palace caused quite a stir when it was filmed in the country. The movie, which follows the harrowing journey of two American friends imprisoned in Thailand for drug possession, had to be shot in the Philippines due to its critical portrayal of the Thai prison system.

Starring Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale, Brokedown Palace found its setting in a dilapidated local mental hospital, serving as a stand-in for the prison. In an interview, another actor revealed that disgruntled patients protested by throwing feces at the wall that separated the facility from the film set. Adding to the controversy, Danes herself was declared persona non grata in 1998 after her comments about Manila were considered disparaging and “uncalled for.”

Metro Manila

Directed and co-produced by British filmmaker Sean Ellis, Metro Manila is a critically acclaimed and award-winning independent crime thriller whose story is primarily set in the Philippines. It follows the story of a rural family who moves to the city in search of a better life, only to face the harsh realities of urban poverty and crime. Metro Manila garnered critical acclaim and received numerous awards, including the coveted audience choice award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

In 2013, the movie triumphed at the British Independent Film Awards, securing three honors, including Best British Independent Film. The outstanding performances of Filipino lead actors John Arcilla and Jake Macapagal also earned them well-deserved nominations. Notably, Metro Manila was the official submission of the United Kingdom for the Best International Feature Film category at the 86th Academy Awards.

A Prayer Before Dawn

Another underrated indie gem you didn’t know was shot in the Philippines is Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s biographical prison drama, A Prayer Before Dawn. Based on the true story of a British boxer imprisoned in Thailand, who had to fight his way out through Muay Thai tournaments, this A24 gritty movie shot its climactic scene at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, which is known for its dancing inmates, as a substitute for Thai prisons. Prayer’s lead actor and Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole also revealed in an interview that while a few daring souls attempted to escape during filming, the majority of the prisoners embraced him and offered their unwavering support.

The Golden Holiday

​​Breaking the mold of Filipino movies set in international locations, The Golden Holiday, a South Korean action-comedy, discovers its perfect storytelling canvas in the vibrant landscapes of the Philippines. With a star-studded cast including Kwak Do-won, Kim Sang-ho, and Kim Dae-myung, this rompy flick follows the adventures of a detective whose family trip to the Philippines takes an unexpected turn, entangling him in a criminal organization and a high-stakes hunt for the renowned “Yamashita Treasure.”

Filmed predominantly in the country, the movie showcases the busy streets of Manila, featuring notable landmarks like the historic San Agustin Church in Intramuros, as well as the breathtaking beauty of Coron, Palawan. Director Kim Bong-han shared in an interview that the production faced challenges such as the country’s stormy weather and heatwave. Adding local talent to the mix, acclaimed Filipino character actors Mon Confiado, Neil Ryan Sese, and Cindy Miranda join the ensemble, further bridging the cultural exchange between South Korea and the Philippines in this entertaining cinematic experience.

BONUS: Avengers Infinity War

And who could forget that climactic scene in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War that had Filipino fans buzzing with excitement? As the dust settled after Thanos’ devastating snap, he found himself in a reflective moment inside what appeared to be a humble kubo amidst breathtaking greenery. After much speculation, it was finally confirmed by Bangkok-based production firm Indochina Productions in a Facebook post that this iconic scene was indeed shot at the world-renowned Banaue Rice Terraces in Batad, Ifugao.

Adding to the Filipino connection, a spokesperson from Walt Disney Philippines also revealed that some of the VFX work for this pivotal moment was expertly crafted right here in the Philippines. It’s a proud moment for Filipino fans and a testament to the captivating beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces, leaving an indelible mark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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