10. Chinatown has served as the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most iconic film and television productions

Peking Duck House in Chinatown
Peking Duck House, where a scene from the television show “Billions” takes place.

Over the years, Chinatown has been featured across multiple well-known film and television productions. One such example is Taylor Hackford’s 1997 American supernatural horror film The Devil’s Advocate, starring Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. Based on Andrew Neiderman’s 1990 novel of the same name, the film follows the story of a successful Florida lawyer named Kevin Lomax, who is invited to New York to work on a major film. As his wife slowly becomes haunted by strange visual phenomena, Lomax realizes that his boss is actually the Devil. In one of the film’s most poignant scenes, Pacino as the devil takes a stroll with Reeves as the lawyer, with the two cutting through the intersection on Mott and Canal to end up on Houston Street, standing at one point right in front of the United Orient Bank. 

Other films featuring Chinatown include Andrew Bergman’s 1990 American crime comedy film The Freshman, starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick, and Michael Cimino’s 1985 film Year of the “Dragon, which focuses on a Vietnam vet-turned-cop played by Mickey Rourke fighting Chinese gangs. In Men in Black 3, Agents K and J, played by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, engage in an epic fight with an elusive alien in Wu’s Diamond Garden Seafood restaurant. Another influential film featuring Chinatown is Abel Ferrara’s 1990 King of New York, which starred Christopher Walken. During the film, the neighborhood serves as a backdrop for a shootout between Walken’s henchmen and the Chinese Tong gangs. On television, the neighborhood has made appearances in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Gotham, and Billions — where the main cast have stopped by popular locations including the Peking Duck House and Foot Heaven.

Next, check out NYC’s China Institute, The Oldest Chinese Bicultural non-profit in America!