Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Yin and Yang of Mr Go - James Mason (1970) - Aberdeen Harbour, Aberdeen

Unfortunately for our next film the print I have looks to have been taken directly from an old VHS copy because the quality is quite poor even after de-interlacing almost every screen grab. I heard of this film through Chaplin Chang who also happens to have a small role in the film (he is a master of this) as well as being credited as Assistant Director.

Anyway, I also heard about some of the shenanigans that went on during production and it seems that Burgess Meredith wasn't a particularly organised director and, in fact, didn't complete the film in the end. According to Chaplin, two key scenes were never shot and the way the film jumps around seems to confirm it. It sounds as though the version available to buy was a cobbled together work print and it really shows. Despite the presence of James Mason and Jeff Bridges - and even a cameo role from King Hu (as a Japanese Bank manager) - the film is just tragically awful.

Of the scenes that were actually completed, one of the first was some shots of Aberdeen Harbour where Mr Y.Y Go (played by James Mason in *sigh* "yellowface") has a boat where he plots his evil schemes.

You can barely make it out in the second picture but the old Aberdeen Police Station is just visible on the hillside at the back.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Johnny English Reborn - Rowan Atkinson (2011) - New Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter, Kowloon

The final Hong Kong based scenes of this film were shot within the New Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter in West Kowloon. The old one was, of course, reclaimed entirely for the purposes of creating West Kowloon itself. The boat chase that started at Hoi Fai Road Garden ends up with the thief (Williams Belle) taking a dip before finally confronting his pursuer for some fisticuffs. You can see several Kowloon landmarks in the background of the various shots.

However, if you are as sad as I am then you may have spotted something wrong with the second picture. For some reason the film has been flipped and actually the background should look like this. Weird.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Johnny English Reborn - Rowan Atkinson (2011) - Hoi Fai Road Garden, Tai Kok Tsui

During the ensuing chase, English commandeers a private yacht along the waterfront at Hoi Fai Road Garden. The garden is part of the small promenade that that lines to north waterfront of the New Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter in Tai Kok Tsui.

The cluster of buildings behind Atkinson's head in the lower picture is the Park Avenue development in Mongkok and at the far right you can just make out the arch of...erm...The Arch!

Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine - Jean-Paul Belmondo (1965) - Return to Sai Wan Fort, Shau Kei Wan

After posting about Jean-Paul Belmondo's and Ursula Andress' trip to Sai Wan Fort for Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine I mentioned I would try and get up there to take some comparison pictures. Well, today was the day and here are some of the results.

The first picture shows the slope going up to the top of the fort structure. The slope is still there but it now has a set of steps cut into the middle and as you can see the external slope has been shored up by riprap.

At the top of the slope, the view is changed mainly due to the amount of tree growth that has occurred. As a result the lower area seen on the centre left of the next picture is no longer visible from the same place. The structures seen in the film are still fairly intact, the one exception is the large building seen in the top picture: it has been knocked down at some point and replaced by a small rest garden and a rain shelter (the structure with the orange roof in the lowest picture below.

The next picture is the view looking over towards the island formerly known as Fat Tong Chau. It's still called that but has been reclaimed and is now part of the Clearwater Bay peninsula. Both pictures (the film  grab and my own) were taken from the very top of the slope. Actually, if you look closely at the wall in the film grab you can see a circular dent in the cement on the right - you should be able to spot the same dent in my picture.

 For the next picture we move around to the east facing side of the fort. The top of the fort has since been turned into a radio transmission station and the top is completely fenced off. This section of the fort is also marked as prohibited to enter but we (I was doing my exploring with David Bellis from were being given an impromptu guided tour by a local hiker and he said everyone wanders all over the place so not to worry. The section that juts out now has a radio mast fitted to the top and it looks like some concrete reinforcement work has gone on for that purpose because the top now has a lip. The bit on the wall is the fenced-off section I mentioned.

Next we move over to the opposite side of the fort and what is the west facing wall. This is the wall that is scaled by all the assassins in the film and to get there we had to skirt the fence and push through some trees. As you can see from my comparison shots, this side is also completely overgrown. The second of my two pictures was taken about half way along the wall. In the film you can see the development going on in distant Chai Wan but it's a view that can't bee seen from this spot anymore.

And finally there is the final part of our trip to the fort that involves Belmondo et al dropping into what appears to be some tunnels via a ground level hatch. The personal visit showed us that the hatch has now gone - it's been sealed with concrete - and it doesn't lead to tunnels but was actually an access hatch for a water reservoir. You can see some of the pipework in my first comparison picture. The section of the wall we were just looking at previously is hidden behind all that tree growth.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable little excursion and I have to thank David for coming along (he will do a more detailed write up of all the other non-film related places we visited) and for Mr Chan - the local hiker who we disturbed from his morning newspaper perusal and who then proceeded to take us - not just around the fort but also - down into the nearby former barracks at Lei Yue Mun Holiday Camp.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Johnny English Reborn - Rowan Atkinson (2011) - Chungking Mansion, Tsim Sha Tsui

The action moves back over to Hong Kong for our next scene as English is following up a lead from the casino. The lead takes him to a shabby hotel - the Kowloon Paradise Hotel - that appears to be located somewhere in Chungking Mansion.

The end of the scene involves a chase that takes us up to the roof of the building where English is after a rather nimble thief portrayed by the parkour expert, Williams Belle.

iSquare in the background 
An impressive leap from block to block performed by Belle.

Most of the action appears to have been filmed on the roof of Blocks B & C but for the last picture, Williams Belle had already jumped the gap between Block C and E and that last view is looking from Block E out across the harbour. Belle's character actually utilises some scaffolding to escape and I do remember that Chungking Mansion was completely covered in the stuff at around that time whilst it was undergoing some external renovation.

Johnny English Reborn - Rowan Atkinson (2011) - Grand Lisboa, Macau

The action briefly moves over to Macau as the two spies head off to meet their contact at the truly, TRULY tacky Grand Lisboa casino. But before we go there we also catch a quick glimpse of the original Lisboa across the road. Here it is below looking colourful and relatively subdued compared to the monstrosity that sits across the road from it.

And here is the monstrosity just mentioned. One of the true great eyesores of the Macau skyline (at least all the other tacky resort casinos have been restricted to the Cotai Strip) that I would happily see demolished.

There looks to have also been some interior filming as well, a quick google reveals that the next shot (with the tasteful gold wall) is indeed inside the building, and I assume the second picture below is as well, however, I'm having problems finding anything online to match, so it could easily be a mock up back in a studio.

Real or not?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Johnny English Reborn - Rowan Atkinson (2011) - Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City

Back to the modern day for the next few posts as we take a quick look at the few locations that were filmed for Johnny English Reborn. This is another film that I had no idea about until it was released - it seems unless you know someone related to production it's very hard to find out when companies are here doing their stuff.

Anyway, for the introduction shot to HK we are treated to some old Kai Tak approach footage as a plane zooms in over what I believe to be Nga Tsin Long Road in Kowloon City. I guess that the old airport is still an appealing sight for film-goers rather than the relatively mundane approach into Chek Lap Kok. If I'm honest, it still fascinates me even now nearly 20 years after its closure.

Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine - Jean-Paul Belmondo (1965) - Hollywood Road Park, Sheung Wan

Until some of the more obscure locations are identified, I shall leave Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine with this final post, again identified by Thomas, that was seemingly filmed in the precursor to what is now Hollywood Road Park.

The space has history dating back to the very original arrival of the British because it was the site of Possession Point - where a flag raising ceremony took place and formal possession was taken of HK Island. It's an historical event still marked by the name of Possession Street an adjacent thoroughfare that connects Hollywood Road with Queen's Road. Before it became the park the area was a Tai Tat Dei (Chinese: 大笪地) a sort of open market place where hawkers sold all kinds of stuff and often called a "poor man's nightclub".

At the moment I'm not aware of the layout of the place but if you follow the link (supplied by Thomas): and scroll to the bottom, you'll see some old pictures of the area (as well as a screen grab from this very same film). It looked like there was two circular concrete kiosks and a few single-storey concrete huts. A closer look at the layout (and perhaps better placing these grabs) will have to wait until I can find some more helpful pictures.

Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine - Jean-Paul Belmondo (1965) - Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun

I'm going to agree with Thomas on this one and believe it is the small stretch of Queen's Road West between Eastern Street and Centre Street. Several factors are leading me to this conclusion even though I don't have the dead certain proof that I usually look for.

The reasons I am agreeing that this is most likely to be Queen's Road West is mainly due to the configuration of the roads with the bend at the background, the three roads on the left that are apparent on the film (the three would be Eastern Street, Mui Fong Street and Kwai Heung Street - although Mui Fong Street is really only a small lane). Whereas on the right side of the picture (which is the south side of the street) we only see an opening where eastern Street crosses Queen's Road West. This tallies with the layout of the road there. Also the fact that this sequence immediately precedes this one makes sense that the film crew wouldn't head to this spot on HK Island simply for the quick shot as the cart turned the corner into Centre Street.

None of the buildings along this part of Queen's Road West (other than the shophouse near the corner with Centre Street) exist anymore, making a building identification impossible and the only real landmarks appear to be the Chow Tai Fook sign (seen in the centre two pictures) and the Ernest Borel sign seen behind his head in the lower picture.

So anyway, if anyone has an old picture of this section of Queen's Road West that can be used for comparison, or perhaps if you remember either of the aforementioned signs, then please leave a comment. It would be nice to know 100%.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine - Jean-Paul Belmondo (1965) - Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun

Another excellent spot by Thomas and one that he has done before because the next screen shots show the exact same spot that we covered a while back whilst looking at The Last Grenade. It's the junction where Queen's Road meets Centre Street. You can click the link above to re-familiarise with the location. The top picture below shows the last shophouse before reaching the junction with Centre Street and this building with its columns can still be found there - although who knows how long they are safe for.

Queen's Road West
Turning right into Centre Street.

The blue sign at the top right of the lower pictures along Centre Street was still there 4 years later when The Last Grenade was shot. You can see it in the pictures on the link I posted above. Once again, many thanks to Thomas and his eagle-eyes.