Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Last Grenade - Stanley Baker (1970) - Tai Po, New Territories

One of the key early scenes between Honor Blackman and Stanley Baker was filmed in Tai Po around the former fishing community at Yuen Chau Tsai. This is the same scene, previously mentioned, photographed by our friend over on Gwulo.com.

As a former resident of Tai Po not far from this very spot (I lived there for 6 years) I find this fascinating because the small shanty town here was very real and not created for the purpose of filming. Also my brother-in-law attended the school that can be seen in the background at around the time the filming took place (circa 1969). Anyway, the scene is set with a rather picturesque view over to a very misty Pat Sin Leng.


Then we switch to the road bridge that crossed the rail track and marshland next to Island House on Yuen Chau Tsai. The lower photo shows the two hillocks that are still around and house the Old District Office (North) - the larger hill on the left - and the smaller hill on the right that has the Tai Po Bungalow sitting on top of it. This latter is now the Norwegian International School Kindergarten. The white building at the bottom of the hill is the school I just mentioned. It's the Wong Siu Chi Secondary School and just recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. I believe it was the first Govt Secondary School in Tai Po. It's been expanded since then but the building you see below is still there. 


The camera is then moved further along the road as the soldiers' vehicle drive by. The mat-shed you can see in the top picture may or may not have been erected for the filming. It is certainly the location of a later scene but I'm not sure of it was built specifically for the movie or if they just took advantage of its existence. Again, we get a closer view of the school.


Amazingly, much of the space occupied by the shanty town has remained undeveloped. The huts sat on a small marshland (that flooded at high tide) where the Tai Po River emptied into the harbour and it was - by all accounts - a rather stinky place to be. When the New Twon development started in the early 1980's, most of the town inhabitants were rehoused in the nearby Kwong Fuk Estate and the marshland was re-landscaped so that the river ran down a nullah and the marsh area was reclaimed. Nothing major has been built on here other than a rather pleasant park and a petrol station. I've tried to recreate the same angle as the lower picture using Streetview. You can still see the hillock but the older school building is hidden by tree growth. The high rises centre left are the ones built above Tai Po Market station.


A little later in the film, Baker returns to the same spot to try and get information from the local population and has a good old wander around.


1 comment:

  1. It's fantastic to see the village areas of 1970 Tai Po. Can't believe how Tai Po and surrounds have changed.

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