Directed by Tony Scott, the 2004 action thriller movie ‘Man on Fire’ is based on the eponymous novel by A. J. Quinnell. Although the book was adapted into an earlier film version in 1987, the presence of Denzel Washington in the central role gives the narrative an edge in the adaptation. It follows a former CIA officer turned bodyguard who goes on a revenge spree to get back 9-year-old Lupita “Pita” Ramos after she gets kidnapped from his custody. Most of the movie unfolds in Mexico City, while the dense suburban ambiance intensifies the narrative’s pace. Now, if you are wondering where the movie was filmed, let us lead you to the destinations.
Man on Fire Filming Locations
‘Man on Fire’ was filmed in Mexico, California, and Texas, mainly in Mexico City, Los Angeles, and El Paso. Principal photography commenced on April 7, 2003, getting wrapped up shortly after that. Paul Cameron of ‘Collateral’ and ‘Deja Vu’ fame handled the cinematography, while Benjamín Fernández (‘Gladiator‘) and Chris Seagers (art director of ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ production designer of ‘Deja Vu’) took charge of the production design. Though most of the movie was taped in Mexico, the screenplay was originally set in Naples, Italy.
However, the director argued that the narrative is better suited for Mexico in the contemporary era, and lensing the movie there would provide a realistic environment and logistical benefits. While filming in Mexico has always been a lucrative opportunity for the enticing currency exchange rate, the government has also introduced a tax rebate program alleviating 7.5% of production expenditure for film productions that exceed the amount of US $5.5 million. Let us now take you to the specific locations where the movie was shot.
Mexico City, Mexico
Most of ‘Man on Fire’ was recorded in various locations in Mexico City, the picturesque and high-altitude capital of Mexico. Pivotal scenes were lensed across the city, especially at a sports club and a theater, as well as a park in the La Condesa neighborhood. Most of the interior sequences were lensed in Estudios Churubusco Azteca, a movie production facility located at C. Atletas 2, Country Club Churubusco, in the Coyoacán neighborhood of Mexico City.
Since its foundation in 1945, the studio, one of the largest and most prominent in Latin America, has housed many Mexican and overseas productions. Some of the iconic movies filmed here include Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Amores Perros’ and the biographical drama ‘Frida.’ From Aztec ruins to remnants of the Spanish conquest, the city conceals a lot of heritage for the curious tourist to discover. Moreover, the spicy Mexican cuisine is almost as diverse as the heritage architecture of the dense capital city.
Other Locations in Mexico
The production team also visited the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez to shoot some sequences. Located on the Rio Grande in the bordering state of Chihuahua, just south of the Texan city of El Paso, the city teems with history. Its historical center houses the Cathedral of Ciudad Juárez, flaunting neoclassical architecture. The Museum of the Revolution on the Border gives you a walkthrough of the Mexican Revolution, a turbulent chapter in the nation’s history.
Additionally, some filming went underway in the Mexican city of Puebla, situated in east-central Mexico, southeast of Mexico City. Puebla is famous for its culinary and cultural history, and its cuisine, steeped in the Aztec tradition, has a range of unique sauces and the famous “cemita” sandwich.
Los Angeles, California
Some scenes of ‘Man on Fire’ were lensed in the Californian city of Los Angeles, located within the eponymous county. The sprawling South Californian city is known for its vibrant nightlife, eclectic confluence of cultures, and Hollywood’s world-famous movie production district. While showcasing a slice of Hispanic culture, the city also promotes itself as an ideal filming destination, complete with a rich history of filmmaking. Several hit movies and TV shows like ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ and ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi‘ were also taped in the City of Angels.
El Paso, Texas
Production further went underway in El Paso, a city in the southwestern part of Texas. Translating to “the pass” in English, the city sits atop the river Rio Grande and is known for its delicious Tex-Mex cuisine. On another note, El Paso is called the “Sun City” since it gets an average of 302 sunny days yearly. The city’s brightness makes it perfect for filming projects; from ‘Sicario‘ to ‘Paris, Texas,’ several acclaimed movies have taken a tour of El Paso.
Read More: Is Man on Fire A True Story?