Vin Diesel drives about in a battered Russian Chaika, carrying out a super important mission for a Russian mobster as a helicopter orbits overhead. All signs are that the famous tough guy is operating on Russia’s borders. Not so – the cool shots were filmed in the Czech Republic.
Director Mathieu Kassovitz was wowed by the Ostrava district of Poruba. The helicopter circled above a small park and buildings on its Hlavní třída (Main Street) and it is easy to see why the filmmakers chose the location. Architecturally valuable, Poruba was built in the Socialist Realist style and betrays the inspiration of Soviet design to this day. By Czech standards, Hlavní třída is unusually broad and symmetrical and its grandeur is perfectly suited for filming. By the way, it used to be called Lenin Street.
There is another interesting aspect to the district, in the Silesian part of the city. It is home to the biggest outdoor swimming pool in the country and indeed the whole of Central Europe. Poruba also boasts the second largest glacial erratic in the Czech Republic; the hard to miss natural landmark is to be found in Vřesinská Street as part of a memorial to war victims. The local water mill is a romantic spot and the Church of St. Nicholas is also well worth visiting.