Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Taxi Driver - David Chiang (1975) - Lok Sin Road, San Po Kong

Just another one of those out of the window shots that I have been able to trace. In this case around the Kai Tak Nullah area (Kai Tak nullah is an infamous manmade waterway next to the old airport site that was responsible for greeting newly landed arrivals with a smell so bad many hopped back on their planes and demanded to be flown somewhere that smelt nicer, like...erm...Milton Keynes).

Anyway, here is the grab. It's at the part of the film when Chiang's female passenger decides to have her baby right there and then.

 The modern streetview shows us that there are still a few recognisable buildings around. We have the two tower blocks in the distance (seen behind his rear view mirror in the top picture), these are blocks A and B of the Shun Ling Building. Still going strong 40 years on.

The building on the far right of our streetview shot, which can also be seen from the taxi, is the Ng Wah Catholic Secondary School. On the second screen grab we can see a building facing us along what is Choi Hung Road. This is also still around, although had a more recent paint job and is the Choi Hung Building. It has a small white building to the right of it (our right that is) which is in fact a branch of Standard Chartered.

Anyway, much of everything else has gone but I have a feeling we will be revisiting the nullah at a later point.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Taxi Driver - David Chiang (1975) - True Light Lane, Kowloon Tong

Have you ever wondered what the area around Kowloon Tong station looked like before Festival Walk was built? Well, we manage to catch a brief glimpse of True Light Lane during the scene when Chiang's car is hijacked by the bank robbers. It may or may not be the same hydrant (although it has been moved).

I can't get a perfect angle from Streetview but will perhaps make an effort to take a shot with the camera the next time I am there (i.e. everyday, I just need to remember to take the camera).

Okay, of course like everywhere in Hong Kong this place has seen a lot of development - most obviously in the form of the much larger station (The Taxi Driver was filmed before the major expansion from one track into two) and now of course we have the massively massive Festival walk mall at the back - although this wasn't opened until the late 90's. But we can see that once upon a time the site on which it now sits was basically a big massively massive hill!!

And the area from where the robbers appear looks to be steps leading down to the old single track railway line - filmed at a time when walking on the tracks was still common and allowed. These days you would have to be stupid as well as nimble in order to take the same route.


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Taxi Driver - David Chiang (1975) - Yau Ma Tei Police Station, Kowloon

Despite being a different film it was this scene from The Taxi Driver that helped me find the last Enter The Dragon location I just posted about - and all of it courtesy of an educated guess by David Bellis over at Gwulo.com.

I was scratching my head with this one for a while because it shows a colonial 'barrack' type building in what looks like the middle of Kowloon. I initially dismissed the Police Station simply because the surrounding area just didn't look right. Foolish me and I really should know better by now.

Anyway, this scene involves Chiang using his taxi driving kung fu skills to take out a bag thief who has just snatched someones hand bag. The key to the scene is in the background as you can see.

Okay, so now we know it's the Yau Ma Tei Police Station, or strictly speaking one side of it - the side that runs along Canton Road. Canton Road is the road we see in the top screen grab and here is the best approximation of that angle with what's available on Streetview.

Another thing that threw me off the trail is the 1975 paint job - as you can see the building currently has the standard police colours of grey and blue (all Police stations in HK are this colour), but in 1975 - and indeed 1973 in the last post I was referring to - the walls are brown with white-painted columns.

Anyway, in the lower screen grabs, the thief (played by Tino Wong Cheung) runs down Canton Road and turns left into Kansu St where he is clobbered by a Hung Gar fist wielding Chiang. The whole area has of course undergone a complete change and the large open space that can be seen here and in ETD is now surrounded by the usual HK highrise development. The only view available to the station from Kansu St now is where it intersects with Canton Road (see below).

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Enter The Dragon - Bruce Lee (1973) - Kansu Street, Yau Ma Tei

Here is a spot that I have been scratching my head over for a vast amount of time. Its anonymity inducing a vast amount of frustration on my part. However, thanks to a small glimpse of a distinctive building facade in the very background I have finally managed to pinpoint its location.

The shot is from the opening sequence when we get the travelogue-style tour of various parts of Kowloon as we see the arrival of the various fighters, and it features a rather wonky-looking line of shophouses.


If you look closely to the left of the wonky building - just behind the support struts - you'll see what appears to be a columned building behind it. You wouldn't necessarily recognise it today - it's the Yau Ma Tei Police Station - because the open balconies have all been filled in and the white paint job has been replaced by standard police issue blue/grey.

Anyway, what it means is that the modern building we can see is the older wing of the YMT Jockey Club Polyclinic and the road at the bottom left is Kansu Street. The small street (with the parasols) in front is the end of Reclamation street and it joins with Battery Street in a loop on the right. This old block is obviously long gone (it wouldn't surprise me if it had collapsed immediately after they turned the camera off!) and has since been replaced by the Kansu Street Jade Hawkers Bazaar.

This whole area has, unsurprisingly, changed immensely. The open square has been turned into a basketball court, a new wing of the Polyclinic has been built that now blocks the view through to the Police Station (on Canton Road) and the Gascoigne Road flyover now covers most of Kansu St.

Speaking of the flyover, here is a google grab from there because it provides the best angle to see the area from as similar viewpoint to where they filmed from.

The Taxi Driver - David Chiang (1975) - Lung Cheung Road, Kowloon

Not Lung Cheung Road as much as the view from it. We've been close to this location before in Sunset and I recently blogged about Lung Cheung Road Lookout on my Hong Kong & Macau Stuff Blog (my other blog is currently on hold until I can muster enough motivation to start it up again) but this time we get to see a reasonable view from a vantage point next to the aforementioned 'lookout'.

Unfortunately I am grabbing these shots from a VCD and the resolution is quite poor and doesn't zoom well, but the view is over Kowloon and in fact the nearest buildings at the bottom are part of the nameless reservoir that sits just down the slope.

The flat bit and small building bottom of the screen are the reservoir and nearby pumphouse, still there after all these years. For geography's sake, the aforementioned Lung Cheung Lookout is off screen to the right in this above shot. In the film the camera pans left and we see in the distance the checkerboard in Kowloon Tsai (see shot below).
The above glimpse of Lung Cheung Road shows the area just before where Lung Yan Road intersects. Much of this shaved slope is overgrown today as you would expect, and there is also a pedestrian flyover here now so walkers can cross to Lung Yan Road (it is teh main road route up the side of Beacon Hill).

The last shot shows our taxi passing the point of the road where Lung Cheung Road lookout is/was. These days it has its own carpark and slip road,m but in the 70's it was basically just a flat promontory that cars could pull into.