Posted by: Chelsea Novak | October 13, 2002


After the sad events of yesterday afternoon, M, Kari and I went out. There wasn’t much else we could do and staying home would have been depressing. M’s mother graciously offered to pay for our dinner at Millhouse sushi, knowing that when you’ve had a bad day and felt loss, sometimes you need to do something good for youself. And it helped. Mike called while we were there, expressing his grief in that fact that Oscar wouldn’t be climbing up his pant leg during his upcoming visit to Prague. We have some great friends.

After dinner we had another chance to play “spot the Prague” when we saw XXX. Possibly the loudest movie I’ve seen, XXX was truly made for the video game generation, which I thought I was part of but then I realized that I actually felt a little old while watching the film. The plot was generously strung together by extreme sports stunts and explosions, which were nice to watch, but again, really frickin loud. Like Planet of the Apes loud (Mike will know what this means).

The movie was also an educational experince. Shot in Prague last winter, I learned about so many new places I feel as though I don’t even know the city. Kari called it “creative Geography.” For example, I never knew that 30 minutes to the north of Prague there are Alps. Big Austrain Alps, which I’d always been sure were about 5 or 6 hours south of Prague in an entirely different country. Yes, the Czech Republic has mountains, but not Alps…

Also I learned that there’s a really cool club in the Power Tower, just around the corner from my house. I’d remembered it as a gallery and a look out point for New Town, but lo and behold, it’s a dance club owned by a bunch of Russian anarchists. Just beside it, is the Obecni Dum (Municipal House), where no one as “cool” as Vin Disel would go to lunch. It’s where Granny and Grandpa tourist go for tea. Regardless, little did I know that just beside the bulding there is a staircase that takes you right across the river and up about 300 ft to Mala Strana. If only I’d known about this magic portal, I could have gotten to my classes in lesser town SO much faster.

Then there’s the submarine sequence. Driving up the banks of the Vltava without encountering traffic? Ha! And at one point he has approching the Charles bridge from the South and then suddenly he was coming from the south? Also poor Vin falling into the Vltava… I wonder if he’s grown a tail yet?

Of course, if I didn’t live in Prague, I wouldn’t find any of this so funny. I’d be one of the people who used to pester tour guides for reservations at the Aquarium restaurant on Old Town Square in Mission Impossible. It doesn’t exist, just like the club where Rammstein plays in XXX doesn’t exsist and most definitely not in the “impossible to get in to see the inside of Our Lady Of Tyn church. The movie had a lot of examples of what M calls “You can’t get there from here.” We had a lot of fun watching Mission Impossible again after moving here and seeing some of the liberties they took with it.

To XXX’s credit, they did actually use the Czech interior ministry to shoot all the scenes that were supposed to be at Czech police head quarters. The uniforms were generally correct, but the representation of Prague police was generous. The most realistic part was the secret police cop who was bought off by the Russian Anarchist. I know there are some good cops in this country, but the force has a bad rep and corruption needs to be fixed before they can be respected. There is some amusement at the notion of a Czech police officer also being a pilot in the Czech media, but it wasn’t so strange to me.

I laughed out loud when the Czech police force invaded the Russion compound “outside” of Prague (read: Austria). Mostly because they didn’t use the APCs they have (oh wait, they’re broken in front of RFE/RL) and seeing the Czech police in combat gear brought back found memories of IMF and preminitons of NATO in November.

I’m being unduely harsh on the film. It used Prague well, and it was nice to see home represented. I recognized a girl I used to waitress with in one of the slow-motion-the-unsuspecting-innocent- people-of-Prague scenes. And I got to see a movie that was filmed just around the corner from where I live. So that can’t be all bad.

I wonder if this means I have to go and see Shanghai Knights now… Jackie Chan. Sigh.




  1. Hi!

    I’m a girl from Hungary planning a trip to Prague 2-3 weeks from now. I am actually a xXx fan which may be funny to you, but I really loved the film, and if I’m there, I thought I could walk around the places I’ve seen behind Vin Diesel:)
    I have found some places you have mentioned in your post, like the name of the church where all begins, and the “Power Tower”, but could you tell me some places you have recognised in the film? thanx in advance, bye, Eve

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