Monday, 25 October 2021

SPL - Donnie Yen (2005) - Austin Road West Flyover, West Kowloon

The film's prelude is the story set up where the animosity between the cop and gangster is put into context - Wong Po (Sammo) killing a police witness and his family leaving the orphaned daughter in the care of Chung (Simon Yam). The killing happens on the Austin Road West flyover as the killer (Wu Jing) crashes his car into the witness car and then stabs the unconscious witness in the neck with his knife.

There's been a fair amount of change around here such as a traffic circle being plonked at this location and the ICC being constructed on the right side of the third image but otherwise it is still recognisable. The building behind Simon Yam in the second image is the control centre for the Western Harbour tunnel.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

SPL - Donnie Yen (2005) - Cheung Sha Wan Beach, Lantau

Next up is the 2005 collaboration between Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen who would later go on to make a good film (and three not so good) about Wing Chun teacher, Yip Man.

The English title of this film is just an abbreviation of the initial sounds of the Chinese title 殺破狼 (saat po long or sha po lang depending on your Chinese preference of Cantonese or Mandarin) and it basically means to "destroy a wolf" albeit somewhat more poetically stated in the original Chinese.

The film's plot concerns the efforts of a policeman, Chung (Simon Yam), to bring down his arch nemesis, a triad leader called Wong Po (Sammo Hung) and the illegal methods he employs to achieve this. Along comes Inspector Ma (Donnie Yen) to inject  a bit of integrity back into his crew before realising that Wong Po is basically untouchable and he soon falls into the plan to bring Wong down by any means necessary.

The film kicks off (and ends) at Lower Cheung Sha Wan beach on Lantau Island. We've visited here before, although it was many years ago.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei - Now and Then

The following screen caps from Ein Sarg aus Hongkong were taken from Shanghai Street looking east over to the old market that once occupied the public square in front of the temple. We can see Heinz Drache and Angela Yu Chien about to cross the road at the corner of Shanghai Street and Public Square Street. The only building still around in this shot (other than the temple which can be just seen through the trees in my photo) is the white building at the back which stands on the corner of Temple Street and Public Square Street. For those who don't know, this is the building that has the Mido Cafe in it. You can see it in the screen cap just above the two actors' heads.

Earlier in the film is a brief view of the area to the right (south) of this one, although it was obviously filmed at the same time. It's the Market Street side of the square with the old toilet block at the junction  (this same shot was later reused in The Million Eyes of Sumuru). Note the Chinese tenement buiding in the background with the wooden arched apertures.

The old film gives a good idea of where Temple Street once emerged onto Market Street - it's the gap between the toilet block and the Chinese tenement. However, that section of Temple Street disappeared with a significant amount of development and, as you can see by my own image, the area at this end was filled in by what is actually a refuse collection centre. The section of Temple Street between here (Market Street) and Kansu Street (one block down) was shifted approximately 20 metres to the east - running along where the old Chinese tenement once stood. Much of the space where Temple Street used to run was taken over by the construction of the YMT multi-storey carpark (currently being demolished as of 2021). As you can see, the toilet block is still going strong and hasn't changed at all over the last 50 years or so.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Wan Loi Tea House (雲來大茶樓) - Now and Then

I was in Mongkok yesterday and took the opportunity to grab a current picture of the block where the Wan Loi Tea House (雲來大茶樓) was located. As mentioned in my original post, the building was demolished immediately after the filming was done and replaced by the Sun Ming Building seen in my current image.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

An Orphan's Tragedy - Bruce Lee (1955) - Tai Po KCR Station, Tai Po Kau

Continuing with some local films, here is one I actually posted about many years ago but removed when I decided to concentrate of foreign productions. Anyway, here it is again.

This is one of Bruce Lee's childhood movies (he was 14 when it was made) loosely based on Dickens' Great Expectations. Lee plays the childhood version of the main characters, whose father has been framed and wrongly convicted of a crime but escapes and then helps his son study to become a doctor. Apart from a rather anonymous hilltop where the young Frank (Bruce Lee) runs into his (unbeknownst to him) biological father - an impossible place to find even for me - there are two scenes filmed on location at the old Tai Po KCR station at Tai Po Kau. The first scene is when Frank (Bruce) departs to go to study medicine. The second scene is when Frank returns after his studies and has morphed into the rather drastically much older, Cheung Wood-yau (father of Chor Yuen in case you didn't know).

Yes, prior to electrification in 1983, there used to be two Tai Po KCR stations. One of them, Tai Po Market station, was decommissioned in 1983 and subsequently became the Hong Kong Railway Museum*. The other was originally called Tai Po station and was located next to the ferry pier at Tai Po Kau. This station was also decommisoned in 1983, but was also subsequently demolished and redeveloped into a KCR staff quarters called Trackside Villas.

The name of this latter station appears to have caused some confusion when it operated, and so the name of the station was later changed to Tai Po Kau to reflect the fact that it wasn't really in Tai Po town. The station was really located here because it was a dropping off point for the nearby ferry pier that provided ferry services all over Tolo Harbour - once a very convenient way for outlying villagers to access the market at Tai Po.

Anyway, in 1955, as you can see from the screen caps below, the station was still called just "Tai Po".

Train approaching from Shatin direction
The view towards the north/Tai Po proper
The little girl is a 7 year old Josephine Siao

*It was at the museum that I first discovered this film because a short clip from it - showing the two scenes I have mentioned - is included in a visual display inside the old station building. For those interested, I did actually venture over that way once and took some photos of where the station used to be. Click here.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Third Street, Sai Ying Pun - Now and Then

Here's another location that has remained unidentified until now. It is from a sequence at the very start of Soldier of Fortune and is part of the opening montage of establishing shots that kicks off the story in Hong Kong. It's literally the first scene in the movie.

The brief scene shows a bustling street that really could be anywhere on Hong Kong Island but the clue to this scene is the right hand side of the frame (top image) which shows part of a concrete structure. The structure is the old Sai Ying Pun market, identifiable by the horizontal grooves that have been added to the buiding's exterior.

Here's how the same bit of Third Street looks today. The version of the market partially seen in Soldier of Fortune was replaced by the current version at some unknown point (please comment if you know when it happened).

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Lutheran School for the Deaf - Now and Then

If I have any Thai readers, they may remember the solitary Thai contribution to this blog is a 1972 movie called อ้อมอกเจ้าพระยา (or Aorm Aok Jao Praya for those who don't read Thai). One of the few local scenes was filmed on Cherry Street in Tai Kok Tsui at the north end of the old Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter. In the background of the scene is a school building - the Lutheran School for the Deaf. I believe the deaf school has relocated to Tsuen Wan, but the school building is still operated by the Lutheran Church and is now called Sharon Lutheran School. The only change appears to be  an additional block stuck to the front of the old school facade (right hand side of my recent image).

Unfortunately, getting an exact match on the film still is impossible because this part of Cherry Street is now a busy multi-lane main road with no pedestrian access. I took the photo from the pedestrian bridge.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Chelsea Court, Tsuen Wan

Finally, the location you've all (well, some of you) have been waiting for - the location of the "Maple Group Hospital".

I found lots of information online about the fact that Woo and his crew were able to take over a former Coca-Cola bottling plant from Swire (Swire owns the license for all Coca-Cola company drinks in Asia) prior to it being demolished. The problem was knowing which one, because apparently there were three: one in Lai Chi Kok, one in Tsuen wan and one in Quarry Bay. Additionally, I had no idea where any of them were in their respective locales anyway - there's scant information even on the Swire website. Anyway, sometime in the early 1990s, Swire constructed a massive new factory in Shatin and moved all bottling activity to there, freeing up the former sites for sale and redevelopment.

Well, after several hours of combing aerial images, I was able to nail down the location of the factory to Tsuen Wan and can confirm that the site used was on Fui Yiu Kok Street and is now occupied by a huge high rise residential block called "Chelsea Court". If you go to the wiki page for that development, it also mentions that it was constructed on the site of an old bottling factory. Bingo!

Looking at the historical imagery, it appears that, like the old teahouse, the factory was also pending demolition when the film crew took it over for production. Although I'm not certain when it was demolished, I can confirm that the site had been cleared by 1994 and was just being used as a temporary storage/car park area and it looks to have stayed that way for the next 10 years until it was redeveloped into "Chelsea Court" (completed 2005).

The odd shape of the site though (a sort of shallow dog leg) meant that the new development forms a similar shape to the old factory, with a kink in the middle, which makes it easier to imagine where the factory in comparison to the current developement. If you use Google Chrome you can click here for a current view. Interestingly, the circular roundabout in the new development seems to more or less coincide with the one seen in the film below (although the new one is much larger).

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Lung King Street, Wanchai

The waterfront location where Little Ko is outed as a mole and is dealt with by Tony is no longer a waterfront. The area in front of the street where Ko (Stephen Tung Wai) falls into water has since been reclaimed so that the Central-Wanchai Bypass could be constructed - this is the same project that saw the end of the old Star Ferry Pier, Queen's Pier and the reclamation of another 200 metres of Victoria Harbour. We've seen this area previously on the blog, in a scene from Man of Tai Chi back in 2013.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - World Trade Centre, Causeway Bay

The Police Chief (Philip Chan) goes to meet his undercover operative (Tony Leung) on a rooftop overlooking Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter. The roof top is the World Trade Centre, we know this becaue as Tony leaves the meeting, the camera follows him to the right and you can just see the curved front of the (recently demolished) Excelsior Hotel at the side of the screen (see last image).

Friday, 15 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter

Tequila meets with Little Ko on the breakwater in Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter in order to pay Ko his informant money. This is actually the central breakwater that forms the main wall of the shelter - it's not connected to land at either end so the actors (and crew) would have need to take a quick boat road to reach it.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Yau Yat Chuen Garden City Club, Yau Yat Chuen

The scene where Tequila pastes newspapers all over Johnny Wong's car was filmed outside the Yau Yat Chuen Garden City Club on Cassia Road. The venue is a private members club (there's loads of these in Hong Kong) and the gang have been having a meeting inside before leaving via the main entrance.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Clearwater Bay Marina

This is the marina where Tony keeps his boat and the scene of carnage later on in the film when his old gang try to kill him for his duplicity. It's private property so unless you are a member of the Clearwater Bay Country Club, or own a boat berthed here there's no chance of getting in.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Connaught Road, Central

As Tony (Tong Leung) makes his way to the library to carry out a hit, we see him driving along Connaught Road in his little red coupe. Various parts of the sequence show him passing between the Rumsey Street carpark and Wing On centre (top image), then by the Hang Seng HQ and its pedestrian bridges followed by a little further along approaching the Central walkways, and then passing the Admiralty Centre and Far East Finance Centre. He then appears to get a bit lost, or more likely given the state of Hong Kong roads, he took a wrong lane somewhere and had to take a huge detour to get back to the library because the bottom image shows him driving in the oppoisite direction - back towards Central - along the Fenwick Pier Street flyover.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - China Hong Kong City Tower 3, Tsim Sha Tsui

The location of the office where Tequila and his fellow policeman are based is revealed in a shot through his girlfriend's (Teresa Mo) office window. The view shows us the Ferry Point Estate in the distance, and in the foreground is the Fire Services Department Kowloon South Divisional HQ on Canton Road. This view is only possible from Tower 3 of the China Hong Kong City Mall on Canton Road.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Stanley Military Cemetery, Stanley

The cemetery where Ah Lung (Bowie Lam) gets buried after being killed during the tea house shootout is actually the Military Cemtery at the Stanley peninsula.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Hard Boiled - Chow Yun Fat (1992) - Wan Loi Tea House, Mongkok

Actually, I'm not sure if this place had an 'official' English name, but the Chinese is 雲來大茶樓. This is the traditional style teahouse (with overhead poles for hanging your pet bird cage) where the shootout takes place at the beginning of the film.

There's a locations feature uploaded onto Youtube (from an old Dragon Dynasty release) which places the restaurant where the Langham Office Tower is today, but this is incorrect (one of several fudges on that short feature). The restaurant was in Mongkok but was located one block to the south, at the junction of Shanghai Street and Soy Street. The Sun Ming Building now stands on the site.

Sun Ming was completed in 1993, and wikipedia notes that the location was chosen because it was about to be demolished. They should have just let John Woo shoot for an extra few days and I am sure most of the demolition work would have already been completed. I would have loved to visit it when it was open because Hong Kong really doesn't have any teahouses like this anymore. Sadly, even on my first trip in 1995, I was already two years late.

If you want to know how to get there, Sean Tierney has put together a rather amusing little video for his (sadly on hiatus) "Silver Spleen" Youtube channel. Link here: