I was walking up St. Laurent this evening when I noticed that Wah Fung, a gift shop located just above Viger, had a new sign. It was nice, but something was off. That’s when I noticed that it was in Chinese and English. “Meubles, paravents, pots & fleurs, vases, cadres, lampes (2ème étage)” had become “Furniture, umbrellas, flowers and pots, vases, frames, lamps (2nd floor).”
Hmm, I thought. That will make some people upset.
Walking down the street a bit, I noticed that almost every store on the block had new signs, all of which were very similar to the old ones except for the fact that the French had been replaced by English. When I realized that Restaurant Hong Kong had become Imperial Dim Sum, that there was a newsstand standing at the corner of the Main and La Gauchetière (with a big sign reading “NEWSSTAND,” no less), and that there were two US postboxes where a Canadian one normally stands, I realized that this block of Chinatown had been transformed into a film set.
The film, it turns out, is The Punisher: War Zone, an lousy-looking American feature that will be released sometime next year. Set in New York, it’s being shot in Montreal, which involves the recreation of New York on our streets, or at least a somewhat acceptable facsimile of it. Earlier this month, I stumbled across Phillips Square as it was being made to resemble the corner of 14th and Fifth Avenue in New York, complete with New York City street signs and a flimsy-looking fake subway entrance.
It’s always fun to spot Canadian cities standing in for American ones in Hollywood movies. Sometimes, the effect is decent, like when Toronto turned into Baltimore for the remake of Hairspray. Other times, it’s laughably bad, like when Vancouver (mountains and all) posed for the Bronx in Rumble in the Bronx.
UPDATE: Spacing Montrealer Cedric Sam stopped by Chinatown this evening and took more photos of the final preparations for The Punisher‘s shoot. The newsstand has “opened” for business and more New York City details have been added.