Criminal Minds' beyond belief depiction of Singapore: 6 other movies, TV shows featuring the little red dot

Television still from Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, starring (from left) Alana De La Garza, Gary Sinise, Tyler James Williams, Annie Funke and Daniel Henney.
Television still from Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, starring (from left) Alana De La Garza, Gary Sinise, Tyler James Williams, Annie Funke and Daniel Henney.PHOTO: SONY CHANNEL

An episode of the American television series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders aired last week hit a raw nerve among Singaporeans for its inaccurate and stereotypical portrayal of the country.

Viewers took offence at the episode, titled Cinderella And The Dragon, in which one character described Geylang as "an overcrowded slum with a thriving underworld".

Besides inaccurate depictions, other blunders included the use of a fictitious Chinese proverb in a voiceover. 

This is not the first time authenticity has taken a beating when Singapore is depicted in a TV show or movie.


Here are six other instances when Singapore was part of the plot:

1. Cold Feet (2017)

The sixth series of British TV comedy Cold Feet featured sites in Singapore's Central Business District.

In one scene, though the camera was focused on two characters engaged in conversation, buildings such as the NTUC Centre and OUE Bayfront were clearly visible, while the bright yellow hull of a bumboat can also be seen in the background.

Ironically, the production team felt the footage did not show the "authentic Singapore" as English signs and British tourists were caught on film, according to a report by the Radio Times.

So scenes were digitally altered to remove the tourists and switch the English signs for Chinese ones.

"We had to make it look a bit more like Singapore - given it was Singapore," a member of the show's post-production visual-effects team reportedly said.

CRITICAL RECEPTION: Anchored by popular Irish actor James Nesbitt, the show achieved an average 82 per cent rating across all six seasons on online movie guide IMDb.

2. Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum being destroyed in a scene in Independence Day: Resurgence. PHOTO: YOUTUBE/20TH CENTURY FOX

A stunning way to showcase one of Singapore's architectural marvels might be to obliterate it, as Independence Day: Resurgence proved.

In this sci-fi blockbuster, the iconic triple towers of Marina Bay Sands are completely destroyed as Earth battles an alien invasion.

Later in the movie, which also stars Singaporean actor Chin Han, parts of London are shown destroyed in the battle. .

CRITICAL RECEPTION: Despite its US$165-million (S$231-million) production budget listed on movie news site Box Office Mojo, reception towards the film was lukewarm. It earned a 53 per cent approval rating on IMDb and failed to impress The Straits Times film correspondent John Lui, who gave it a low rating of two out of five stars.

3. Equals (2016)

A scene from the movie Equals, which was shot at the Henderson Waves at Southern Ridges. PHOTO:  SHAW ORGANISATION

Turns out futuristic buildings and structures in Singapore could also be ideal locations for a dystopian setting, where inhabitants are devoid of emotions, until a disease allows the two main characters to regain their feelings.

Locations featured included Henderson Waves, Marina Barrage and one-north MRT station.

Residents at Reflections @Keppel Bay were pleasantly surprised to find out the condominium's reflecting pool would be immortalised in the Hollywood film, according to "geek" news site Geek Crusade.

Some fans also got a chance to shake hands and rub shoulders with the cast of Equals - including Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame - when the actors visited Sentosa Island after filming ended.

CRITICAL RECEPTION: A star-studded cast comprising Stewart, X-Men's Nicholas Hoult and Australian actor Guy Pearce went "some way in fixing major weaknesses with the plot's thriller elements", said ST's John Lui in his review of the movie, which he awarded three out of five stars. 

4. Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

British actress Hannah Ware at Changi Airport's Terminal 3 in a scene from the movie. PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

More than 1,000 people attended the premiere of Hitman: Agent 47 in 2015 in Singapore. Not surprising, given that numerous scenes were shot on the island and featured landmarks, as well as other familiar scenes here.

According to the Infocomm Media Development Authority, in an unprecedented move, Robinson Road was sealed off for 2½ days to allow the crew to film.

The resulting footage highlighted an adrenaline-filled car chase that screeched to a halt at the intersection of Robinson Road and McCallum Street. In this scene, the MPH Bookstore outlet can clearly be seen.

Other locations where filming took place included Gardens by the Bay, Marina Barrage and the aerospace hangar of the Institute of Technical Education College Central, where a thrilling fight scene was recorded.

CRITICAL RECEPTION: Fans from Singapore were understandably thrilled by the movie, judging by comments posted on Facebook from those who attended the premiere.

However, the movie failed to convince Lui, who lamented the "shaky-cam style" of the shooting and gave it two out of five stars in his review

5. Serangoon Road (2013)

A film still of the movie Serangoon Road, showing Don Hany and Joan Chen. PHOTO: HBO ASIA

Produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and HBO Asia, this 10-episode detective drama series takes viewers back to 1960s Singapore, where the protagonist must grapple with his past as he helps his neighbour investigate the murder of her husband.

Most of the show was shot in a studio, although some location shooting was done at Raffles Hotel, colonial style houses and the Joo Chiat area - but apparently not in Serangoon Road.

The show also featured local actors such as Edmund Chen, Alaric Tay and Chin Han.

CRITICAL RECEPTION: In 2014, the series was nominated for Best Television Drama Series at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. Producer Graeme Blundell, writing for The Australian, described the film as "very well put together" and "a stunning orchestration of performance".

6. Krrish (2006)

A scene from Krrish featuring Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan that was filmed at the Singapore River. PHOTO: FILM KRAFT PRODUCTIONS (INDIA)

This superhero movie holds the honour of being the first Indian film to be shot in Singapore under the Singapore Tourism Board's Film in Singapore! scheme.

The action flick follows a typical superhero movie plot, where the protagonist, after inheriting his father's superpowers, follows his love interest to Singapore. However, a villain stands in the way and the hero Krrish, played by Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan, must defeat him.

Filming was done at numerous locations islandwide, including the Singapore Zoo, the Esplanade and East Coast Park, where cranes were used to get an overhead shot.

CRITICAL RECEPTION: Raking in US$370,266 on its domestic opening weekend, Krrish was well received, garnering numerous awards and nominations. It achieved a 63 per cent rating on IMDb.

Sources: Radio Times, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Geek Crusade, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, HBO Asia, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Singapore Tourism Board