Wednesday, 23 September 2020

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Verbena Road, Yau Yat Chuen

Often confused with Kowloon Tong but actually developed in the 1950's, Yau Yat Chuen was also originally the location of some very large properties with private gardens but has seen most of them redeveloped into multi-apartment mansion buildings. Whereas Kowloon Tong had roads named after English counties, Yau Yat Chuen (or Tsuen, depending on how it is romanised) has roads that are named after plants.

Verbena Road runs north/south linking Peony Road at the southern end with Begonia Road at the north end and is featured during some key scenes in the film as another fight breaks out between the baddies and another group of goodies who comprise Bruce's former kung fu school brothers (and sisters).

The scene starts at the southern  end of Verbena Road as a fake rickshaw puller is spying on the two groups of good guys. The first two images show the southern end of the road, looking in each direction, then the scene cuts to the group as they pass the northern corner onto Begonia Road. The buildings may have changed but some of the external garden walls are still around today.


As they wander off, Van Clief and his buddy walk around the southern end of Verbana Road and hire the rickshaw. Then follows a bit of a silly scene as they both decide to use the occasion for some training and put the rickshaw puller in his own vehicle and run up and down the road. The white wall on the left side of the road in the third image is still around - as is the original property behind it. It's #7 Verbana Road and is a good example of the type of property, with some art-deco influences, that lined this particular part of Yau Yat Chuen.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Rutland Quadrant, Kowloon Tong

Once they are turned away from Miss Tang's house, the duo walk around the "corner" (in reality a distance of more than 13 kilometres as the crow flies) and suddenly appear at the junction of what is now To Fuk Road, York Road and Rutland Quadrant. Obviously the film makers wanting to create the impression that the house is located in Kowloon Tong instead of way out in the far New Territories.

Surprisingly little has changed in this area, apart from the fact that To Fuk Road has been created and is now the road between here and Kowloon Tong MTR Station. Back then it was a small street at the end of York Road that led around the back of the last house (#13 York Road, which we will see in a minute) and joined up with Norfolk Road behind.

The back road that became To Fuk Road
Looking down Rutland Quadrant
Kowloon Tong District Scout HQ (still there)
The view looking down York Road with Rutland Quadrant on the left

Anyway, the pair get ambushed by people who don't want them discovering the truth behind Bruce's death and they promptly beat them all up. Ronnie gets to beat someone up with the aforementioned #13 York Road in the background. This house is one of the better examples of art-deco architecture in the estate and still exists in more or less the same state with the exception of some remodelling behind where Ronnie's head is. Also the same garden wall still exists but has had some additional height added. Actually, the house has been afforded a heritage grading and you can read a bit more about it on Gwulo.com

#13 York Road

Sunday, 20 September 2020

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Dragon Villa 旭龍, Tsing Lung Tau

The first thing the intrepid pair do once Van Clief meets up with his Vietnam buddy, Charles Bonet, is head to the house where Bruce supposedly died. Of course, in real life we know this to be the apartment of Betty Ting Pei at "Beverly Heights" on Beacon Hill Road. However, in this movie the location is a large property owned by film star, "Miss Tang". Although the property is supposed to be located in Kowloon Tong, as you will see in a later post, the actual location used is called Dragon Villa, located over on the NT coast at a place called Tsing Lung Tau. Not to be confused with Dragon Garden which is not that far away from this location and has a property inside that I have, in the past, referred to as Dragon Villa. To avoid confusion, I have added the label "Dragon Villa 旭龍" which contains the Chinese characters for the property (pronounced yuk lung in Cantonese).

The property hasn't actually changed very much since this movie was made, with the exception of some extra tree growth and the widening of Castle Peak Road (the same widening project that made the aforementioned Dragon Garden lose its original front wall and entrance gateway).

Anyway, I digress. The property is featured extensively in the film and is also the location of the final fight so we are given a fair amount of different camera angles that reveal bits of the property as the action moves around the garden.

View to Dragon Villa from across Castle Peak Road
I am 100% convinced this interior is real and not a studio set 

If you look on GoogleEarth you can see that the pagoda in the bottom image is still in the garden of the property.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Nathan Road, Kowloon

As Ronnie leaves the airport and takes a taxi to his Vietnam buddy's place (the guy is played by Charles Bonet) we get to see a bit of his route. It starts off on Salisbury Road and turns immediately into Nathan Road next to the Peninsula Hotel. We then get to see a few views looking north up Nathan before the camera then  reveals we are heading back south again (with the Hyatt Regency clearly visible on the right in the last image). Actually, two of the several hotels seen in this sequence have since gone. The previously mentioned Hyatt Regency (last image) was demolished in 2006 and replaced by iSquare and in the fourth image you can see the Ambassador Hotel on the corner of Nathan and Middle Roads which was replaced by 26 Nathan Road (the building formerly known as Oterprise Square).

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

As the story moves (officially) to Hong Kong, we see a KLM plane approach and land on the famous old runway of Kai Tak airport. The camera uses an interesting angle and one I don't think has been used before. Anyway, one for the aviation buffs needing an injection of Kai Tak nostalgia.


This last image is, of course, a close up of the old terminal building and car park seen from the west looking almost directly east. The white section at the bottom was used previously on The Million Eyes of Sumuru as the exit for passengers heading to the car park. I'm not sure if this was its actual function but you can see a close up in this grab from that film.

Friday, 18 September 2020

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Central Harbourfront, Hong Kong

During the opening credits there is a nice long panning shot of the Hong Kong harbour front that begins at the old Furama Hotel (now AIG Tower) and ends with the China Insurance Group Building centre screen (that's the slim dark building in the middle of the fifth image). Just in the first image below there are six major buildings that no longer exist: Hutchinson House, the Furama, Sunderland House, HK Club, Hilton Hotel and the HSBC building, so you can imagine how much more change has occurred along that whole stretch of waterfront since this shot was filmed. 


I managed to stitch the whole sequence together into a reasonable panorama. Click on the image below to zoom in.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Sheraton Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui

The beginning of the film is supposed to be taking place in San Francisco the day after Bruce Lee's death, but in fact the establishing shot for this is filmed from Middle Road next to the Sheraton Hotel. The camera pans past the Sheraton and finishes with a zoom into one of the windows of the Peninsula Hotel. I guess the Peninsula is a good stand in for similar buildings in San Francisco (although I've never been to the latter.

Anyway, once we have established we are in the US, the interior scenes were almost definitely filmed at one of the suites in the Sheraton. The room is duplex with a spiral staircase, but the giveaway in the window configuration which matches the windows at the south east top corner of the hotel. I have no idea if Sheraton still has these rooms for hire but perhaps someone reading this was lucky enough to stay here. It had only opened just a couple of years prior to the film being made.

Note the double height windows in the last two images which, as mentioned, indicate this room was one of the penthouse suites located in the south eastern corner of the hotel.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The Black Dragon's Revenge - Ronnie Van Clief (1975) - Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kowloon

The Black Dragon's Revenge is a 1975 film starring Ronnie Van Clief as..Ronnie Van Clief, a friend of Bruce Lee who has been hired by a mysterious Chinese client to find out how Bruce really died. The funny thing about the version I have is that it is obviously censored so that whenever Bruce Lee is mentioned, the "Lee" part of his name is erased from the audio. No doubt Bruce's highly litigious daughter, Shannon, has had a hand in this as she has with everything else.

Anyway, the film starts off with some shots around the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where Bruce was taken the night he died (I think most fans agree now that he was dead long before he was even put into the ambulance, let alone by the time he turned up at the hospital). Check out the disclaimer in the first image (I guess that bit escaped the "Lee" censor).


 Note the appearance in the background of the fourth image is a sign that says "Fortuna". This was the name of a hotel over on Nathan Road that has since been replaced by the large Wing On building opposite Mau Lam Street (Mau Lam Street is where Bruce's family were living when he was being born in the US).