Sunday, June 24, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Magazine Gap Road, Mid-levels

To show his visiting father some sights during his visit, Private Adams takes him and the wife up to a viewing point to admire the harbour vista. Just looking at the buildings in the background I can tell this is a layby along Magazine Gap Road just in front of Magazine Heights at #17 Magazine Gap Road. Even by 1981 standards these buildings weren't new and it's nice to know that they are still around despite now being 50+ years old.

The first image shows the view looking up at Magazine Heights from the road and the following image shows the cobbled retaining wall next to the road that forms part of the podium base. I think the view was filmed from somewhere else (slightly more to the west) though as the angle with Hung Hom and the airport/Hung Hom doesn't quite match. It's interesting to see the big gap in the area that was later filled up by reclamation and the Whampoa gardens development.

Magazine Heights behind
View from Mid-levels looking towards the airport and Hung Hom area

This last photo shows the view looking back down Magazine Gap Road. The development behind is Magazine Gap Towers with it's rather impressive balcony size.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - St Paul's Facade, Macau

After Sgt Bilinksi awakes from his drugged night in Macau, he does a quick runner back to HK via the St Paul's ruin. It's not the end of his troubles though.

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Casino Macau Palace, Macau

Sgt Bilinski's choice of casino was a bit more limited back in 1981. So, no surprise then that he chose the Casino Macau Palace - the wooden floating casino once moored in the Inner Harbour area. This was the go-to casino for most of the foreign film and TV productions that I have covered on this blog, so rather than repeat myself you can check out these older posts.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Hong Kong Macau Ferry, Sheung Wan

A return trip to Macau for Sgt Bilinski as he heads into the ferry terminal during episode 3: Another Happy Day. This time we can see the Rumsey Street car park in the background. It's about the only thing left around here.

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Man Kam To, Sheung Shui

Following on from this earlier post showing off a bit of the terrain around Man Kam To, there is also the following couple of images from the same episode. I didn't post them earlier because I wasn't 100% sure of the location but I'm now satisfied that the first image is of the police post at Man Kam To. The image is looking in a south(ish) direction with Sandy Ridge in the background. The road going up the hill at the back leads up to a helipad. The second picture shows the road that leads to the police post (if you drive to the left) and a long building at the corner of the road where it drops down the hill towards Man Kam To. It's hard to believe that the flat area in the background (including the white lattice type building structure) is now the fully developed control area for the Man Kam To crossing. Muk Wu village can be seen in the far distance (top left).

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Stanley Fort, Stanley

A few more images from Stanley barracks. It's a bit hard to avoid posting so many because much of the series was shot here or out in the new terrories. Besides, like the other TV shows I've done I tend to include the same locations from different episodes rather than stick them all into a single post. The first image shows the main entrance which doesn't look as though it has changed at all in the past (almost) 40 years.

Note that in the second image, the two blocks - Sandringham and Balmoral - had wire covers over the verandah/balcony openings. Can anyone explain why? These were removed by the time Bloodsport and Soldier Soldier were filmed here.

Sandringham and Balmoral Blocks
The sign says Sgts Mess. I think this is Block 46 - can anyone confirm?
Cricket pitch from near the slope by the parade ground
The gym with Pvt Mayhoe practising his karate

Monday, June 18, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Former Sham Shui Po Barracks, Kowloon

In episode 3 (inspiringly called Another Happy Day), one of the sqaddies' fathers comes over to visit his son and family (the dad is played by Milton Johns - a famous face to anyone growing up in the UK during the 70s and 80s) and his daughter in law (played by Pik Sen-lim) takes him for a dose of reality at a Vietnamese refugee camp in Kowloon. The only Kowloon refugee camp I know about was the former Sham Shui Po barracks and from the various images below, it looks as though this is where they do visit.

By 1981, the northern section of the old camp had already been redeveloped into the Lai Kok Estate but the southern section (now Sham Shui Po Park) was still intact and converted into a refugee holding camp. In the top image below you can see the pair walking past one of the old camp buildings (you can see a good example here on Gwulo.Com) as well as the temporary corrugated iron sheds used to house the refugees.

The last picture shows the old coastline through the trees and Stonecutter Island in the far distance. This was before the coast was reclaimed and stopped abruptly where the West Kowloon Corridor flyover now sits. The buildings on the right were part of the camp that was redeveloped into the Sham Pui Po public swimming pools at the NW end of the park.

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Lockhart Road, Wanchai

The obligatory "squaddies out on the town" sequence takes place along LockHart Road (where else?) as a group head to Club Highway. It was a bit hard tracking down the location of this place for 1981 because it moved to the 128 Building in later years. However, this shot looks as though it was taken  at the club's previous address: 53-55 Lockhart Road. This is the current location of the Spa Centre.

The lowest image shows a view further down the road to the Neptune Club and Bar when it was still at 75-79 Lockhart Road.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Hong Kong Macau Ferry, Sheung Wan

Sergeant Bilinski is a bit of a naughty man and heads off to Macau to fuel his gambling habit. The scene here is a little reminiscent of The Man with the Golden Gun, although Roy Holder is going in whereas Roger Moore was coming out.

This was still before the Shun Tak Centre had been built and it looks as though not much had changed between 1974 and 1981. Look carefully at the top of the first image and you can just make out the two-tone brick work of Western Market.

The Chinese Stuntman - Bruce Li (1981) - Cox's Road, Kowloon

I forgot to put this post up for The Chinese Stuntman a few weeks back. It's just a quick shot of Ladalski and Li walking up Cox's Road in front of the old Scout HQ - Morse House. In another interesting connection with the real Bruce Lee, this was where Lee and brother Robert used to go sometimes as it was just around the corner from their house on Nathan Road. The building was knocked down in the mid 1990's and replaced by a development called Carmen's Garden. The address is/was 9 Cox's Road.

The first two shots are looking south down Cox's Road, the buildings in the distance being on Austin Road. On the far left of the top picture you can just see the wall of the Kowloon Cricket Club building. The third image is looking north and the old building on the left was still part of the HQ - you can see it over on - but just beyond there is the edge/balcony of the Manse House that still sits on the corner of Cox's Road and Jordan Road.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Stanley Market, Stanley

One of the soldiers' wives is a bit frustrated with life in the barracks and wants to go home, so her mate takes her to Stanley Market for the day for some light relief. Sadly, not many views of the place other than the following one.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Man Kam To, Sheung Shui

In episode 2, Have a Happy Day, the soldiers are still on their anti-II patrols and a journalist (played by Nick Tate - an actor who I remember mostly from my childhood for being in Space 1999) joins the patrols to write a report for a local newspaper. Cue Nicholas Lyndhurst as Private Wilson who  mentions that they are in Man Kam To which was/is one of the several border crossings into the Mainland. Given the fact that the observation post here was already well within the Frontier Closed Area, I am doubtful the actual scene with the actors was shot there. However, we are treated to some shots of the surrounding area including the view over the bridge crossing to the Mainland side as well as a couple of shots either side of that area. The first shot is looking east and the other I (assume) is looking west.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Lion Pavilion, The Peak

The wives pop up to the peak to take in the nice 1981 vista. This place has featured in numerous films on this blog over the years and despite some extra tree growth in the surrounding area it looks pretty much the same today as it did then.

 A trip to the pavilion isn't complete without the corresponding view over the harbour.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Tam Kon Chau, Mai Po

During their anti-II operations, the Rangers are based out of one of the famous "Macintosh Forts". This was a string of seven police observation posts built along the border area between 1949 and 1953 to help monitor the flow of refugees from China in the immediate aftermath of the Chinese civil war.

Of the seven, only two were built outside of the Frontier Closed Area - a strip of land running along the border within which a permit was required to enter (unless you were a villager living inside the area). Given the logistics of having a large TV production stomping around inside the FCA, it's no surprise that the one featured in the show is one of the two located outside of that area (side note: most of the FCA has now been removed, ostensibly to allow easier visitation but in fact the main reason was to facilitate easier redevelopment).

The one we see below is located in Maipo. Wikipedia lists it as being located at Pak Hok Chau (白鶴洲) but actually the area is really Tam Kon Chau (担竿洲) - directly opposite the Mai Po Marshes WWF Visitor Centre. However, it is still known as the Pak Hok Chau Operational Base.

It's nearly 40 years since this show was made so it's not surprising to see a lot of tree growth and development of the roads, but the basic pattern of the surrounding ponds hasn't changed much.

The Fort with Mai Po marshes in the background

If you want an idea of how green and lush the marsh area is these days, feel free to browse a post on my other blog from when I visited a couple of years ago.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Spearhead in Hong Kong - Stafford Gordon (1981) - Stanley Fort, Hong Kong

Roughly ten years before Soldier Soldier was filmed in Hong Kong there was another British Army based show that was filming at Stanley Barracks. Shown in 1981 (I imagine filmed either that year or the year before) it was the third (and last) series portraying the fictitious 1st Battalion Royal Wessex Rangers on their Hong Kong tour involving mainly operations against illegal immigrants near the border. The drama is slightly more serious than Soldier Soldier and there isn't the same comic relief as that show but I'm quite impressed with the fact that the geography is true and the places mentioned are the ones where the filming took place. Also there are a few familiar faces that showed up (familiar to me as someone who grew up in the UK watching UK television, that is) including a pre-Only Fools and Horses Nicholas Lyndhurst, Roy Holder, Ric Young (Lord Jim, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) and not forgetting Burt Kwouk who turns up as a Triad.

Anyway, as mentioned, the Battalion is based out of Stanley Fort so a large selection of locations seen are around there with a few places out in a still very undeveloped New Territories. Here is a few scenes from Stanley in the first episode called Night Games. You will of course remember that as well as Soldier Soldier, Bloodsport was also filmed in and around here. These days it is P.L.A controlled and goes by Stanley's Chinese name: Chek Chue Barracks.

These first two shots show a helicopter landing at the barracks, in the frame you can see Lo Chau (small stony islet at the bottom of the first image) and the prison (bottom of second image).