Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Prodigal Son - Yuen Biao (1981) - Tai Tung Wo Liu, Sai Kung

The second of the two identifiable locations used in this classic Sammo Hung film is used in the finale when Yuen Biao fights (and inflicts a rather sickening injury) on Frankie Chan.


As you can see, there are glimpses in the back ground of a very striking mountain range which are actually the northern Sai Kung side of Ma On Shan. The finale was filmed on what seems to be a very flat piece of ground and actually this area of the NT is quite flat. Here is a modern view courtesy of streetview of the same ridgeline. Bear in mind that on film the camera lens sometimes stretches or squashes the picture along certain planes in order to fit the TV screen/monitor.


There is a small village called Tai Tung Wo Liu here and the finale would have been filmed on land very close to the village given the angle of the mountains and other features that can be seen on the film.

The Prodigal Son - Yuen Biao (1981) - Yim Tin Tsai, Sai Kung

One of only two identifiable locations in this classic Sammo Hung film featuring Yuen Biao as the young Wing Chun exponent Leung Tsan.

I think Sammo (he directed and wrote as well as starred in the film) was trying to create some sort of homage to another film I discussed a few weeks ago because this scene is almost a direct copy of the one from River of Fury - filmed at the exact same location, featuring an opera troop aboard a boat that is docking at the pier. Here are the grabs.


Yes, this is Yim Tin Tsai in Port Shelter, Sai Kung, where about 8 years before Danny Lee ran along the exact same concrete pier to greet a junk traveling opera troop. The same house at the beginning of the pier and of course the previous version of the pier that now exists. You can read my River of Fury entry here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires - Peter Cushing (1974) - Fei Ngo Shan, Sai Kung

In this classic collaboration (one of two) between the UK's Hammer Studios and Shaw Bros in HK, the film makers took advantage of the unspoilt mountainous area around Fei Ngo Shan (Kowloon Peak) to film the hilly scenes as the protagonists make their way to David Chiang's lost village.

Several scenes were shot but all incorporated approximately the same area. First there is this view of everyone stumbling up the hillside.The distant peaks poking up at the back are in fact eitehr end of the saddle ridge of Ma On Shan.


Judging from the angle I am guessing the camera was fairly close to the Fei Ngo Shan Road as it goes over the hill and down the other side towards Tate's Pass. Not an exact placement but this dip is close enough to the road so that the film crew had an easy job of it.


The second part featured above was reasonably close by with a view down into Port Shelter, or at least what seems to be the Hebe Haven part of it. I think this one was shot slightly further east.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Friends - David Chiang (1973) - Ashley Road

Actually, strictly speaking this is the corner where Ashley Road joins I Chang Street. It's where two friends of struggling artist, David Chiang, meet up to try and raise some money by selling his paintings. Actually, it's more complex than that because one of these friends (played by Fu Sheng) is the son of a tycoon and has other ideas on his mind. Anyway, they conspire just outside of what is now Restaurant Osaka - HK's longest established Japanese restaurant.

In the first shot we are looking down I Chang St from the corner.


And in the next shot we are looking south down Ashley Road with Restaurant Osaka on the left. Actually, in 1973 I believe the restaurant was still called Restaurant Yamato - famous on my other blog for being a haunt of Bruce Lee.


For a comparison of the external decor of the restaurant you can check out this snap on FLICKR showing the same place about 10 years later: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26502588@N02/3450496873/

And finally (below), looking back up Ashley Rd towards what looks like trees. Yes, Bo Fung House (32-34 Haiphong Rd) which currently sits in that area was built shortly after this film was made (they went up circa 1974). So the film has obviously captured a moment in time when there was an open view onto the trees that now stand shading Haiphong Road from Kowloon Park.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

River of Fury - Danny Lee (1973) - Yim Tin Tsai, Sai Kung

When we first meet the main character (played by Danny Lee) he is rushing out of a seaside village to meet the opera troupe who have come by boat. It took me a while but I eventually discovered that this seaside location is in fact located by the main pier on Yim Tin Tsai. Here are the grabs.


Two things led me to this identification. The first was the small building you can see in the first picture which is actually two houses. Believe it or not this house still exists and is identified by the sloping rooflines of the adjoining rooms on each side of the main building. You'll be pleased to know it has been renovated and looks pretty good. Click on the link for a recent picture courtesy of Suzanna Chan on Panoramio.

The next piece of positive ID came from the ridgeline that can be seen in the background of the last two pics. This ridge belongs to Sharp Island (Kau Tsiu Chau) and can only be seen like that from Yim Tin Tsai. One of my favourite local hiking websites (Hiking in Hong Kong) has come to the rescue and provided confirmation of the same ridgeline. Here is their picture taken from an excursion to Yim Tin Tsai.


On a final note, the pier we see on screen was replaced circa 2001, because I found an online note that mentioned the island's new pier (much wider than the one Danny Lee walks down) was inaugurated by the local vicar who runs the island's rather famous small Catholic Church.

Miracles - Jackie Chan (1989) - Port Shelter, Sai Kung

 Remember I told you that JC had built a large set for the movie up at Shaw's Movietown? Well, part of that set obviously included a large balcony area that gives us a great view over Port Shelter in Sai Kung. Actually, it's quite possible that the background here was a back projection, but the fact remains is that it's a view of Port Shelter from an angle that indicates the location of the camera would have been somewhere at the very back of the movielot. (I notice from the most current aerial views of the arae that redevelopment of part of the old lot is already underway - no doubt for luxury housing as is the norm in Clearwater Bay). Anyway, here are the shots.


The first one shows the late, great Anita Mui sizing up the 'house' which they will use for the pretense that it is owned by the wealthy flower lady to impress her future in-laws. You will already be familiar with the islands in the back ground because once again this is Kau Sai Chau and Jin Island - you can see the gap where they almost touch on the right hand side and this is a location we have seen a few times on this blog e.g for Project A and River of Fury. On the left just behind the spherical light fixture is the very southernmost tip of Sharp Island. Regulars to the beaches of Sai Kung will know that it is just there where Hap Mun Bay can be found - one of the areas more popular beaches.

Here we go with shot number two from the same angle but at a different time of day (or perhaps more likely, with a different camera filter on). But just to the far right you can see a piece of land jutting in, this is the northernmost point of Shelter Island (Ngau Mei Chau). We can see the whole island in the final picture.


Glorious skies can be seen here and note the change of angle viewing the balcony (this is one of the reasons I believe the balcony was actually constructed on the set rather than this being a back projection job in the studio). And here is where Shelter Island looms fully into view and contrasts quite nicely with the illuminated sea surface.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Miracles - Jackie Chan (1989) - Calcada Do Carmo, Taipa

Okay, so the staircase that connects Carmel Square to Rua Direita Carlos Eugenio is called Calcada Do Carmo. It's these steps that feature in the next part of the initial Miracles set piece as a gangster's car comes crashing down the steps and JC gets in on the action by rescuing its occupants and fighting off the bad guys.


Now, once again, JC's production team have made the place look a bit busier than normal (trust me, if you go there right now you will probably be the only person there), as well as 'British' with the additional fake telephone box (which promptly gets shot to pieces), the the main thing that grans my attention is the fact that the lower part of this path was sloped rather than stepped in 1988/1989.

Here is the current look via Streetview, as well as one of my own humble pictures taken circa 2009.


Okay, so the building at the bottom of the slope is still there, but note how steps have been added at this lower part. It seems as though the stepped part of this cut-through originally only covered the top half and the nice thoughtful people in Macau Govt have extended them all the way down to the road.

The more I look at what has been done to these places in Macau, the more I realise how messed up the HK Govt's attitude towards heritage preservation truly is. *sigh*

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Miracles - Jackie Chan (1989) - Carmel Church Square (Largo Do Carmo), Taipa

One of the first set pieces of this film starts with JC seated in a quiet square where he first meets the flower seller and his run of luck starts. The end of the scene ends with a gangsters car crashing nearby and he inadvertently gets promoted to lead the crime gang thanks to a unfortunate misunderstanding.

Well, the square we first see JC in is the very same square - in front of the Carmel Church in Taipa - that was used for part of the bike chase from Project A. The scene starts with a glimpse from the church bell tower.


And here is the said bell tower, looking in need of some much overdue love and attention (which it subsequently got via a Govt funded lick of paint).


Here is JC sitting in the square under a wooden gazebo. The gazebo was a prop (which then got smashed by the car) but the building behind wasn't and still sits in the same place looking very much like the old colonial building it was meant to be (and was, just Portuguese Colonial instead of British).


And here is our first glimpse of the happy-go-lucky flower lady (Lady Rose) standing in front of the colonnaded library (there is currently a replica there, but I have no idea when it was erected and whether or not this is the replica or original seen on film).


And here we are with a Streetview of the area today (I do have personal snaps but, actually, the Streetview is more up-to-date).


Make a note of the staircase on the left because I'll be getting to that one in a moment...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Miracles - Jackie Chan (1989) - Lilau Square (Largo Do Lilau), Macau

Not the first scene from the film (that's still to come) but here is one when JC goes to see the Rose hawker at her own house. The giveaway here is the slope at the back and the large banyan trees that still occupy the square. Of course, when JC filmed there they caught it looking pretty grungey. It's hard to say if this was the original look of the place because the Macau authorities have done a huge and great job of tarting up all the old buildings and public places.


Here is JC's gangster-limo pulling up in front of the square on Rua De Barra. The white building in the background is still around (this is Macau after all and not Hong Kong) but is now painted pastel pink, but the fire hydrant (if it was original) is no longer around.


JC is aided at this time by the late, great Ricky Hui who died just last year (RIP), who walks into the square to summon the old lady. Now Lilau Square today has three banyan trees in the same location - albeit with immensely beautified surroundings - but it looks as though the middle one has recently been replaced.


As you can see from the Streetview below, the other two trees look to be the same.

Miracles - Jackie Chan (1989) - Shaw's Movietown, Sai Kung

Miracles was shot during 1988 (and various behind-the-scenes moments were captured on Jonathan Ross's excellent The Incredibly Strange Film Show) and released in 1989. Being a period film (set during the 1930's) meant utilising locations that had a feel for that time, so great use was made of older parts of Macau and additionally, a huge set was constructed at Shaw's Movietown in Clearwater Bay.

1988 was a time when Shaws had largely moved away from films and into television and as such the huge backlot at the old studios was leased out to other wishing to take advantage of the large and reasonably remote (in HK terms at least) studio backlot.


Since Shaws and TVB (the TV side of the Shaw empire) moved to its new studios in Tsueng Kwan O, the old Movietown backlot has stood unused and gradually getting more and more decrepit. In fact it wasn't very long after Miracles was filmed that the neighbouring HKUST was built (opened in 1991) which put paid to the less-developed aspect of the surrounding area.

On a more recent note, a developer was recently given the go-ahead to redevlope the whole area that was Movietown including, sadly, the iconic Shaw's adminitsrative building. There has been a late attempt to try and preserve some of it but at this stage it's not clear whether this has been successful. It will be a real shame if the old Shaw House goes as well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

River of Fury - Danny Lee (1973) - Nam Sang Wai, Yuen Long

For a brief moment, Danny gets lost in his thoughts as he sits down and looks over a part of the territory that has changed little in the intervening time. Nam Sang Wai is a wetland oasis just north of Yuen Long and here we can see Kai Kung Leng (that's the closer pointy hill) in the background to the east.

And here is the best modern day version I can do courtesy of Streetview.

River of Fury - Danny Lee (1973) - Kau Sai Chau, Sai Kung

Here is a place that we have seen before on this blog courtesy of Project A. River of Fury is one of those films that makes extensive use of the waterways around the NT - well, it is partially set on a boat, so no surprises there really - and this makes it damn hard to place some shots (I have the same problem with various snaps from The Sand Pebbles).

However, this is a spot that is very familiar to me and in fact I passed it just the other day after an afternoon's diving around the Ninepins and Shelter Island. The place you see in the shot below is the very small gap between Kau Sai Chau (which now houses the Sai Kung Public golf course) and Tiu Chung Chau (aka Jin Island).


Here is my shot of the same area (taken on Saturday) albeit from a slightly different angle and from much further away. The cluster of things you can see where the two islands meet is actually a fish farm where marine fish are raised in cages (floating in the sea) for a very tiny small fraction of the local restaurant business (the rest - i.e. most of it - is imported).