Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

And so, for my final post on Bloodsport as we arrive at the end of our series here, what more fitting finale than to say goodbye to Frank Dux at another piece of unforgettable HK history - Kai Tak Airport.

Norman and Forrest look on waiting for JCVD, and expecting a no-show but he's only gone and kung fu'd his way onto the plane beforehand - never underestimate the power of the dim mak...Anyway, here are the grabs.


We can't really see much from the top two shots other than some long-departed terminal buildings and a nearby high rise estate.


The lower shot shows us a nice view looking south west towards the hazy HK Island ridge line in the distance and everything between there and here i.e. Hung Hom and Ho Man Tin (hill on the far right). A nice bit of nostalgia for anyone who was lucky enough to visit HK prior to July 1998.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - The Peak, Hong Kong

In perhaps one of the most memorable scenes from the film (certainly one that I remember fairly vividly from when I first saw this film in the late 80's when it was first released onto VHS), JCVD heads up to the Peak to fight his inner demons and sits atop the Lion Pavilion in full splits whilst showing off the old 'muscles from Brussels'.

The scene starts with some hallucinations aboard the Peak Tram before giving us that famous panoramic vista down across the harbour.

 JCVD on the Peak Tram
 Nighttime fades into daytime

Not a bad day for visibility when they shot this, you can just make out the Anderson Rd Quarry in the distance. Much has changed, of course, in this skyline - just a few additions off the top of my head include the Cheung Kong Centre (it was still the Hilton hotel in 1987), new Standard Chartered HQ, the IFC development and of course the huge West Kowloon reclamation that now sits on the other side of the harbour.

The Lion Pavilion

Looking northwest across the harbour. Is there anybody out there who has snaps of this as passers-by when it was being filmed? Would love to see some. Judging from the shadows I reckon this was probably filmed late afternoon.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, Hong Kong

Part of the same foot chase scene which sees Forest Whitaker and Norman Burton pursuing JCVD through the streets of TST on Kowloon side, we suddenly make a huge leap across the harbour and find ourselves in Causeway Bay.

Switching camera angles create the image of Van Damme crossing a small nullah like waterway, but in fact he gets in and out on the same side of the harbour whilst his pursuers founder in the water.


The little sidewalk running along the waterfront is still there and the typhoon shelter is of course still very much in use (it even has its own floating Tin Hau Temple). Look carefully at the top grab and you will see some green-coloured umbrella-shaped sun shades just where the flyover comes down to ground level. These things are actually still there (or at least they were when the Streetview car drove by). Being a pedestrian pavement the closest I can get without physically going there is this view below.


The pavement is the one that runs along the right (in case you really do need telling). Look for the gap in the railings and you will see the exit from the steps that JCVD took as he entered/left the typhoon shelter. And further along amongst the trees you can see the umbrella-shaped sun shades I was talking about.

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Junction of Hanoi & Mody Roads, Tsim Sha Tsui

More from the chase, this time just after our last post where JCVD runs down the road, hides behind a car and runs back again (in a northerly direction), the next shot sees him run out of neighbouring Hart Avenue (seen on the right in the screen grab below), to the junction where Hart, Mody and Hanoi all meet up.

Until the redevelopment there was a lovely corner building here (one of several in this area it seems) that housed a shoe shop. Hanoi is on the left and Hart on the right with Mody Road at the bottom of the screen.


If you look up Hanoi on the left, you can just make out the leaves of the previously seen banyan tree. You can see ol' JCVD just at the front of the corner building as he runs past it and stops at the traffic island (see below).


Want to know what sits on that corner plots now? It ain't pretty, trust me...


Yep, there you go, I suspect that perhaps some of the corner building's footprint has been taken up by the need for extra space courtesy of the MTR entrance/exit you can see above, which is why is seems to have even less space now. There are still some relics from prior to the redevelopment, but you have to look up to the far end of Hanoi Road on the left - you'll see that the same buildings still line the road at the far end (it's Carnarvon Road) despite everything else being completely demolished.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Here is one that was a real toughy for me simply because I have no memory of the area and also because the URA have managed to eradicate pretty much every bit of the older neighbourhood when they constructed the monstrosity that is known as the "Masterpiece" (not really the most fitting of names, in my opinion) which houses the K11 mall and the new Hyatt Regency.

To the rescue comes Michael Tomkins, a former resident of the area, who was nice enough to provide the identification of this one.


This is (as mentioned in the post title) Hanoi Road and it is one of the streets (that still exists) most affected by the redevelopment, but thankfully there were enough clues on screen to confirm the location. First we have the presence of a large banyan tree in its concrete box, followed by some of the businesses that can be seen including the Mayur Indian Restaurant (underneath the one for D'Elysees), the Home Restaurant (blue with red writing on right hand side) and the partially obscured Eddie Siu tailor sign (white at the back).

As you can see from the modern view below...it has ALL gone!! The sole remaining survivor from the redevelopment seems to be Eddie Siu's tailor at #2 Hanoi Road. The big space on the right hand side of the road is where the K11 mall now stands. Notice the structure behind the van in the shot below as well. This is an entrance to East TST station - another thing that has changed the whole area since it was built and one of the most perfect examples of lack of foresight in city planners (they tore down the much more historical and aesthetically pleasing KCR train terminus in 1978 because it was considered useful anymore - the train terminus was moved to Hung Hom a few years earlier and here we are 30 years later with the Govt having to rebuild a TST train station...)


To be honest, I much prefer the character of the area as it was, the new look is just too clinical, clean and generic, and its always a great shame when a big old banyan tree is ripped out for the sake of development.

Anyway, a big thanks to Michael for giving me the identification. More from this part of TST as the chase unfolds over the next few posts...

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Peninsula Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui

After the Policeman has informed the US cops of Dux's whereabouts, a chase ensues in which Van Dammage leads our unfortunate stooges on a haphazard runaround across an impossible amount of local territory. Movieland strikes once again as we jump from one location to another with almost amazing speed - starting off with JCVD leaping the central barrier on Nathan Road (the most amazing thing is the local cops didn't nab him for jaywalking...actually, the local cops are a lazy bunch so not that surprising after all!).


So what has changed? Nothing really other than Bally being ousted by Harry Winston, and Linea being shoved out by Fendi. The bus stop has been modernised with a glass roof, but that's pretty much it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Blake Pier, Central Waterfront

I just mentioned Blake Pier in the last post after checking a 1990 map (close enough, even for somewhere as rapidly changing as HK) and can confirm that it was also used in the following scene when the two US cops are eating some food with the Central Vehicular ferry pier in the background.

The last generation of Blake Pier (the original one can now be found over in Stanley) was a dog-legged affair that zig-zagged out from the Central waterfront almost slap bang in the middle of where the Star Ferry and Vehicular Ferry piers were located. Judging from the screen grabs below I would say that the actors were eating at the far end of the pier along the portion of the pier that ran parallel with the waterfront.


I'm sure some of the HK locals that read this blog will be able to confirm that there was a restaurant at the end of the pier. Anyway, in case you are curious about the shape, you can see the pier (being constructed, bottom right) in this postcard image over on Gwulo.com.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Central Ferry Pier, Hong Kong

Brief scene in the film when the hero's love interest tries to get him to spill the beans on the Kumite. Look closely and you will see the hazy distant shape of what looks to be Ocean Terminal when it still had signage on top. We're sandwiched between two ferry piers at this spot, behind Leah Ayres you can see the old HK-side Star Ferry pier, but look back behind JCVD and you will see the old vehicular ferry pier. I initially thought this may have been just along the waterfront, but the angles of the buildings at the back are not quite right, and after a bit of digging around I found a map from 1990 which shows that Blake Pier was still around at this time. So I will stick my neck out and say this scene was filmed from Blake Pier, corrections welcome.


Sadly, both of these piers are no more. The vehicular ferry was closed in 1994 and was consumed by harbour reclamation on which the IFC complex now sits on top of. Although you can still see a few of the old car ferries being used for Bauhinia harbour cruises. The Star Ferry pier went much more recently (circa 2006/7 - around the same time I moved out here) in a flurry of protest and demonstrations and the area was quickly absorbed into the most recent round of Central waterfront reclamation that is, quite literally, a unnecessary waste of space...*sigh*

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Marine Police HQ Interior, Tsim Sha Tsui

After seeing what the area around the Marine Police HQ used to look like, here are a few shots taken in the interior as the two US police (played by Norman Burton and a very young and slim Forest Whitaker) meet with the HK Police Inspector (Philip Chen, who also played the gangster in Double Impact).


Of course, the only upside to the recent reopening of the old HQ (it's been turned into the Hullet Hotel) is that it is more accessible now than it was previously - although more so to guests than just scruffy oiks like you and me - but at least you can wander around the verandahs and peer inside without having to pay through the nose for one of the rooms.

We also get to see some more of the Marine Police HQ later on in the film when our intrepid reporter feels the need to try and enlist Police support in stopping Dux from doing any more fighting.

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

Well, what with all the Bruce Lee 40th Anniversary of his death and also the recent very sad news about Jim Kelly passing away from cancer, it seems fitting to round off the Enter The Dragon opening scenes with the final stumper. This one was solved courtesy of Richard Wong who had kindly posted a response to my old locations effort over on Gwulo.com. Here is the reminder from the opening credits when we see Jim Kelly (aka Williams) crossing a road behind what looks like a number 2(F? E?) bus. Given the change in this area there was no way I was going to find this myself without some more local expertise.


Thanks to Richard Wong we now know this place is the junction of Shanghai St and Man Ming Lane (Man Ming Lane being the one that goes off to the right). Here is the same corner today - note all the old buildings have gone apart from one just further up - one of just a few remaining examples of HK's old (but excellent) shophouses.


I can't get quite as close on Streetview but seeing as I am not too far from this spot I will be able to get a better picture later on. Incidentally, this location is only about 1 block away from the previously mentioned Fruit Market - not surprising given the logistics involved in lugging around filming equipment and setting up shots.

Until then...R.I.P Jim Kelly and Bruce Lee :-(

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Marine Police HQ, Tsim Sha Tsui

For me, this is one of the most interesting (from a documentary point of view) pieces of HK caught on the film. The shot begins with a nice look over to Causeway Bay in the distance (check out the SOGO sign) and then pans down and left as the camera captures some seafront development in TST before ending pointing down at the car park in front of the Marine Police HQ. Actually, I look at this scene with a tinge of sadness for two reasons: it shows two key pints of redevelopment in TST which I feel should have never happened.


This first section shows us a few things, from the quarrying on the side of Mt Butler (top left), to the SOGO store in Causeway Bay as well as the 1987 waterfront along that section of the island. Look closely and you will see the Excelsior Hotel, Kellet Island Yacht Club, and a small box which marks the area where the cross-harbour tunnel sinks into the water. Of course, this area is still undergoing major works as the 'final' section of harbour reclamation is completed.

As we scroll down we see a load of construction work going on in the lower Kowloon-side part of the scene. I was scratching my head on this one until I realised that what we are looking at is the construction of the HK Cultural Centre along TST waterfront. Yes, that windowless cream-tiled abomination that looked out-of-date the minute it was completed. Remember that to make way for this, a very beautiful and elegant historical train station was torn down (its only remnant being the famous TST clocktower). Well, that was the first piece of regrettable development. The second can be seen as the camera continues to pan down.


The sad thing about the second part of this scene is that everything you can see, other than the front portion of the Marine Police HQ building, has gone! When Cheung Kong got hold of the tender to redevelop this building they decided to completely excavate the whole front portion of the hill so they could put in a concrete and marble lined plaza surrounded by high-end jewelry stores. It may provide a great photo opportunity for camera wielding tourists but its turned a pleasant, quiet tree-shaded area into a barren glitzy excuse to charge high rents to another big high-end chain store :-(

Thankfully, the Marine Police HQ building itself is a protected monument (although I doubt the penalty for "accidentally" demolishing one wouldn't be very high).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Tin Hau Temple, Kowloon Walled City, Kowloon

Well, we've seen the outside of the walled city, we've seen a few shots taken inside some of the alleyways inside the walled city, now here we have a picture of the city's Tin Hau Temple.

I scratched my head for a while wondering if this was filmed in a studio or actually done on location and have come to the conclusion that it was on location. Why? Well, because thanks to the Facebook group: Kowloon Walled City 九龍城寨 (九龍城砦), I found a picture of the temple front allowing me confirm its identity.



The above picture was grabbed from the title sequence, but we return to the same location later with ol' Gibbsy and Van Damage as they enter what is supposed to be the venue for the Kumite. I believe the actual fight scenes were filmed at Clearwater Bay Studios on Ying Yip Road.


A nice touch with the pot plant...

So anyway, here is the picture from the above mentioned Facebook group. Incidentally, this Tin Hau temple has been mentioned elsewhere in the arts world and I distinctly remember Martin Booth making a reference to it in his memoir "Gwei Lo/Golden Boy".


What I can't quite determine at the moment, because I lack a decent map, is whereabouts in today's Walled City Park the Tin Hau Temple would have been located. As far as I know it was demolished along with the rest of the place (although some older buildings were preserved e.g the Almshouse), however, it's a while since I ventured there and perhaps it still stands in some corner somewhere. Failing that an approximation of its location would be nice. I will try and find out...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Kowloon Walled City, Kowloon

Not much to say about this next collection of screen grabs other than they show what the 'Walled City' used to look like - both inside and out.


Lots of dark alleyways that would intimidate even the hardiest explorer. For more photos inside the Daily Mail has a great gallery of pictures here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2139914/A-rare-insight-Kowloon-Walled-City.html

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Tung Tau Tsuen Road, Kowloon

Okay, after being led around the houses by Victor, our next shot shows the Kowloon Walled City proper - or at least part of it - from the vantage point of Tung Tau Tsuen Road. You really have to see to believe how much of a difference has been made since the 'city' was demolished (circa 1994). Here is the road as seen on film.


You can tell we are looking at Kowloon Walled City just by noticing the height of the buildings in the background - no other place in HK really had this style of 'improvised' skinny highrise in such great quantity. Anyway, our key reference to its modern day identification is actually the building on the right hand side of the grabs which is called Mei Tung Estate.


Yes...that is the same road (it runs along what was the north face of the walled city) and those are the same buildings belonging to the Mei Tung estate on the right! Of course the walled city was replaced by the walled city park - a very nice place to visit if you ever come to HK.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Now we have left the confusion of the tram car sequence we move onto another one when the guys set out from their hotel and walk with Victor towards Kowloon Walled City and the venue for the 'Kumite'.

We've already seen some scenes from this sequence because I have already covered the southern end of Nathan Road and Peking Road, and the next part of the scene we see our heroes walking along Mody Road - but this time back towards Nathan Road!! If you ask me Victor is a pretty crap guide and I'm surprised old Frank even made it to the venue in the first place.


To be honest, this was a toughy because the whole area has seen MASSIVE redevelopment since this film was made. The URA took over the place (that's the Urban Redevelopment Authority to you and me) and several surrounding roads to build the K11 mall and the so-called 'Masterpiece' skyscraper that houses the mall in its lower floors.

The sole remnants from 1987 are the Union Travel Company (seen on the sign above JCVD's head) and just far right you can catch a glimpse of the Mody Road electricity substation (that's the bit behind the grey-haired dude on the right). Here is a rough approximation of the same view using Streetview (sub station on the right).