Thursday, 30 July 2020

Chaplin Chang R.I.P

I just found out today from a friend that Chaplin Chang has passed away.

I first met Chaplin after volunteering to help him edit his memoirs through a mutual friend and several meet ups were to follow over the next few years. He had a lot of energy for a man in his late 80s and early 90s and always insisted on travelling out from his home in Tin Shui Wai to meet up for some food and a chat.

He had quite a fascinating life, the early part of which he turned into a memoir - Beyond the Blockades - largely about his days as a seaman doing supply runs up and down the coast of China during the late 40's and early 50's. Later in the 50s he became involved in the film industry. As a native Hokkien speaker (he was originally from Xiamen/Amoy) he started off acting in Hokkien-language movies made for the Chinese diaspora in Asia and later, due his excellent English skills, started to liaise with overseas production companies that came to HK to shoot movies and often filled the role of local Assistant Director. As you can see from my various Chasing Chaplin posts, he often had small cameo roles in these movies as well as working behind the camera.

Anyway, I shall miss Chaplin, he was a warm and friendly person and was chock full of stories (and photographs) of his time in various films. R.I.P.

Here is a photo from the first time I met him in May 2013.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

V.I.P - Jang Dong-gun (2017) - King's Road, Quarry Bay

After taking care of business, Jang Dong-gun heads off and stops at some traffic lights to ponder the meaning of life. The traffic lights in question are located where Java Road joins onto King's Road between the Hong Kong Funeral Home and Kerry Centre in Quarry Bay. Then as he pulls out onto King's Road we get a brief glimpse to the east as the cars drives off. Actually, this later angle was also used in the opening scenes as one of the driving shots as he makes his way to his rendezvous.

The lower three images show the view along King's Road (looking east) but the first of those is actually from the beginning of the film. The latter two are from the end as he makes his way back to the airport.

Java Road with Towngas Building in the background

Saturday, 18 July 2020

V.I.P - Jang Dong-gun (2017) - Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po

Another part of Jang Dong-gun's car journey takes him back over to Kowloon and we see a high level view of the car driving onto Un Chau Street from Tai Po Road. I'm not sure why this particular spot was chosen by the film makers over a million other possible locations but there you go. The camera most likely placed in one of the flats located in either the Hong Po building or The Merrylands next door.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

V.I.P - Jang Dong-gun (2017) - Gloucester Road, Wanchai

A few moments after driving along Hung Hom Road, the car pops out on the other side of the harbour and drives along Gloucester Road, past the now demolished Excelsior Hotel.

V.I.P - Jang Dong-gun (2017) - Hung Hom Road, Kowloon

As he makes his way to his rendezvous, Jang Dong-gun drives out of what appears to be some sort of tunnel. It turns out that this is the Hung Hom Road where it passes under the podium of a large residential development called Harbour Place. At last, a real location.

Monday, 13 July 2020

V.I.P - Jang Dong-gun (2017) - Hong Kong Cityscape

Recently, I've found myself having to post stuff just to make the point that a shot is supposed to be Hong Kong but actually isn't. It seems to be the way film-making is heading as more and more films use CGI to recreate a place rather than actually use the (now more expensive) option of actually visiting a place.

Anyway, this film is no different and although there are actually real HK locations making brief appearances, much of what you see is not HK but some similar stand-in or a faked shot. Case in point is this view of Hong Kong. The scene occurs as Jang Dong-gun's South Korean intelligence officer makes his way from the airport (not filmed at HKIA as far as I can tell) to his rendezvous with the US intelligence services (represented by the excellent Peter Stormare) in "Lan Kwai Fong".

First off I don't recognise this bridge at all so it is most likely one in Korea, and secondly even if it was a Hong Kong bridge there is no way it could have that particular view of HK Island in the distance.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

V.I.P - Jang Dong-gun (2017) - View over Hong Kong

V.I.P (Very Important Person) is a South Korean crime thriller that centres around the chase and capture of a young creepy looking serial killer (played by Lee Jong-suk) who is able to evade the consequences of his actions by the virtue of being the son of a high ranking North Korean official.

Although most of the action is based in South Korea, there are some "Hong Kong" scenes. This means that the beginning and end points of the film are set in Hong Kong but the actual proper on location footage is fairly limited, with most of the HK action actually being filmed in Korea with some scenery dressing to give the impression we are in Hong Kong.

Anyway, the film opens with a Korean Intelligence agent, played by Jang Dong-gun, catching a flight to Hong Kong. He takes a peak out of the window just before he lands and we get a brief glimpse of a familiar sight to anyone who has had the fortune to fly into Hong Kong on a clear night.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

6 Underground - Ryan Reynolds (2019) - Central, Hong Kong

A final post from 6 Underground and this is really the last proper shot of the place before everything goes all CGI and completely fake. In fact, for the later shots in this set piece, it doesn't even look like the director (Michael Bay) has even bothered to make anything look like Hong Kong. So in the first image is the proper Hong Kong footage. The next images show how it was enhanced to put the dictator's brother's building into the location, and the final image from the same sequence...I have no idea where the %$#@ that is supposed to be but it ain't Hong Kong. Is it a real place? I have no idea but if you do feel free to inform me in the comments.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong with extras
Definitely not Hong Kong

Anyway, on that note I should probably say that this type of Hong Kong "location" filming was already getting quite prevalent of late. Several films over the past few years haven't even bothered filming in supposedly Hong Kong set sequences because it's easier (and after today, definitely less risky from a political and personal safety point of view) to just create Hong Kong inside a computer. Expect more of the same in the future.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

6 Underground - Ryan Reynolds (2019) - Wanchai Interchange, Hong Kong

Here's another shot for 6 Underground that I forgot about (the shots are edited into the HK sequence a little too fast to notice sometimes). It's the Wanchai Interchange at the norther end of the Canal Road Flyover.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

6 Underground - Ryan Reynolds (2019) - Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po

This next establishing shot that 6 Underground uses for its "Hong Kong" scenes does actually appear to be new to me. It certainly didn't crop up in Transformers: Age of Extinction although I believe it was still probably shot at that time because that film did have a couple of scenes on adjacent roads.

Anyway, it is a brief shot along Ki Lung Street looking west. The shiny building in the distance is actually the Dragon Centre on Yen Chow Street. This was basically shot on the block between Shek Kip Mei and Wong Chuk Streets. I may have noted this fact during my Transformers posts but all the overhanging signage here was removed quite some time ago during a Govt safety drive.

Friday, 26 June 2020

6 Underground - Ryan Reynolds (2019) - Tung Choi Street, Mongkok

How many times have we seen this angle of Tung Choi Street before? Quite a number including  Vengeance, Strangers (where it was used for the view out of Anthony Wong's apartment window) and of course, it featured as a brief shot for Transformers: Age of Extinction.

So it looks like my theory of unused (and used) footage from the Transformers shoot was basically correct as this view of Tung Choi Street from the Mongkok Road pedestrian walkway is used again for Bay's 6 Underground. The same location appears a couple of times in this movie both before and after the main set piece. I love these colours, the place was a bit drab when I was there and took a photo last year (2019)

Thursday, 25 June 2020

6 Underground - Ryan Reynolds (2019) - Stonecutter's Bridge, Kowloon

Next up is another film from Michael Bay. You may recall that Bay was in Hong Kong circa 2014 to film scenes for Transformers: Age of Extinction. The filming caused a fair bit of controversy thanks to his merging a national park in China with the Hong Kong Island geography (which led to complaints from the Chinese park authorities) and also due to the extortion incidents that occurred in two major filming locations (Quarry Bay and Sham Shui Po).

The events here seem to have put Bay off from returning (and who could blame him?) because the Hong Kong scenes used in this film are a combination of brief establishing shots and the main set (which was actually in Italy) having a variety of locations, including Hong Kong, inserted into the background.

It looks as though Bay has basically reused footage he shot for Transformers and included some small shots that maybe were not originally included in that film but kept in store for such a purpose. My theory appears to be correct when you compare these opening HK shots for 6 Underground with a similar scene in Transformers: Age of Extinction. The opening shot is a view along the Stonecutter's Bridge that links Kowloon and Stonecutter Island with Tsing Yi Island.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Lupin the 3rd - Shun Oguri (2014) - Central Police Station, Hollywood Road

The second and last post of our brief coverage of Lupin the 3rd as the Interpol Police Inspector (played by Tadanobu Asano) calls a meeting with the Hong Kong Police in order to plan his raid on The Works' headquarters.

It's just a very brief shot of the stone facade of the former Police HQ on Hollywood Road before switching to an interior filmed, I assume, somewhere else although I have yet to visit here to confirm one way or another. Given that the last post was most definitely stock footage, I'm going to assume this shot was as well. I doubt there was any proper filming taking place here for this movie.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Lupin the 3rd - Shun Oguri (2014) - Hong Kong Island

Next up, as my supply of films steadily drips dry, is a 2014 Japanese film based on a popular anime. Lupin the 3rd. It stars Shun Oguri as a highly skilled thief in the employ of a sort of Robin Hood type organisation called "The Works" that steals from the rich to...erm...keep stuff for themselves. Like several previous Japanese productions I have looked at, this one makes it onto the blog courtesy of just a couple of brief glimpses of Hong Kong as some of the action is supposed to take place here.

First up is the main establishing shot for the supposedly HK-based action. The organisation, headed by Australian actor, Nick Tate (I'm old enough to remember him from Space 1999 back in the 70s), has its HQ in a rather spectacular looking mansion somewhere in Hong Kong. Suffice to say no such place exists here, although the film makers have tried to use their CGI wizardry to help with the make believe.

Anyway, this opening shot is from the western side of the Peak area looking east. Suffice to say this is more than likely just stock footage because the trained eye can spot that fact that CCB Tower (that's the China Construction Bank's HK HQ) is missing from the cityscape. This is the building that replaced the Ritz Carlton and was completed in 2012. In the lower image, there is still a gap where one of those buildings should be so this shot was taken sometime between 2008 when the hotel closed and 2012 when CCB Tower opened.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Blood, Sand and Gold - Aaron Costa Ganis (2017) - Nanking Street, Yau Ma Tei

To round of this film, there is a post-credits sequence when one of the characters if revealed to have survived the film's denouement. The sequence starts off with a blurry shot of Woosung Street as the character steps into frame and comes into focus. Squint a bit and you can just about make out the vague shape of a building in the background that stands on the NE corner of the junction of Woosung and Nanking Streets. Actually, we were at that junction just a few months ago with Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong.

The final shot of the film was taken along the aforementioned Nanking Street (turn right at the junction I just mentioned) and it's a view from just beyond the junction with Parkes Street looking back to the pedestrianised section of Nanking Street between Parkes and Woosung Streets.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Blood, Sand and Gold - Aaron Costa Ganis (2017) - Queensway, Central

Another establishing shot from this film and yet another quick scene filmed from one of the many walkways that criss-cross the roads around Central leading me to believe that this film, too, was most likely shot without official permits (well, can't blame them considering the low budget).

This shot was taken from the walkway that connects the Lippo Centre with the High Court building on the south side of Queensway.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Blood, Sand and Gold - Aaron Costa Ganis (2017) - Harcourt Road, Central

We had another post from Harcourt Road last week, this one is a night time shot taken a  little further to the west which means you can see the pedestrian bridge from which the earlier post's image was taken from. This one is most likely taken from the bridge that connects the Admiralty Centre with the new Central Government Offices.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Blood, Sand and Gold - Aaron Costa Ganis (2017) - Lung Wo Road, Central

Before heading into the office, the two HK-based characters do what all car driving Hong Kongers do and stop their car on a double yellow line to get out. The interesting fact about this location here is that it was once where Queen's Pier stood at the waterfront and now is a main road called Lung Wo Road.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Blood, Sand and Gold - Aaron Costa Ganis (2017) - Garden Road Flyover, Central

We were here just a few months ago, except that time we were following a couple of an epic walk from SoHo to Lan Kwai Fong via Katmandu (or at least that's what it felt like). This time it's just a quick scene as a car drives down Garden Road down towards Queensway.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Blood, Sand and Gold - Aaron Costa Ganis (2017) - Old Peak Road, The Peak

The two Hong Kong based characters are out for a run and they are filmed at the top of Old Peak Road not too far from the Barker Road Tram Stop. This bend in the road is less than 200 metres down the road from there. The triangular roofed building the guy is looking at is the Tavistock 2 and Aigburth towers on Tregunter Path.