Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Project A - Jackie Chan (1983) - Kau Sai Chau, Sai Kung

Here is a location with a bit of a story behind it (which is why it has taken so long to find). The problem was this - a seaside location with calm water (so sheltered from the open sea), with a large kiln, concrete block and small abandoned hut. I looked everywhere for a long time and could not find anything that matched. I gave up - it could have been anywhere along HK's vast 800km coastline.

Anyway, it turns out (with help from some shots from another film from Daniel of Hong Kong on Film) that this location is the gap between Kau Sai Chau and Jin Islands in Port Shelter.

I've never been here myself but know that there is a small restaurant here that is popular with boaters (because there is no way else to get there) but the shots from Panoramio suggest that the large chimney/kiln has been demolished (I suspect this was an artifact related to the nearby Hung Shing temple) as has the large concrete blockhouse. But there does seem to still be a small abandoned hut there (which I am sure you will be able to see when Dan puts up his own post on this location). The whole shoreline has been concreted and smoothed out, but the background remains the same. If you are wondering about the exact location here is a Googlegrab.

Kau Sai Chau to the north (this island is popular because it contains HK's only public golf course - but you still need to catch a boat to get there) and this area is on its southernmost part. The small cluster of squares to the left of the gap is a fish culture farm - quite popular here in HK for raising fish for restaurants and at one time blamed for the shark attacks that occurred in the early 90's because the fish food was thought to attract the sharks!

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Central Vehicular Ferry Pier, Hong Kong

The end of the chase ends at the old Vehicular ferry pier in Central.

The pier was situated in front of the old Central Fire station next to Jubilee Street (that's the old fire station poking up at the top of the pier in the lower shot) - basically directly to the north of the Hang Seng HQ where One IFC now stands. Here is the current view from Streetview. The walkways over Connaught Road seem to mimic the two prongs of the pier - it's possible this was an intentional homage by the architect, but I'm not sure. The pier was demolished in 1994 for the IFC reclamation. Gwulo also has information here.

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong

Once Bud finds who he thinks he is after a chase ensues through various locations, one of which is down Ladder Street, past the Man Mo Temple and onto Hollywood Road.

Well, the building on the right is the one that is still there, replacing the previous building that featured as the Nam Kok Hotel in The World of Suzie Wong. The temple roof looks a bit shabby here and I am sure it has undergone a bit of a renovation since 1975, but notice the old red-painted pillar box and old-style fire-hydrant. Both of these items were visible in the previously mentioned Suzie Wong too (and Jackie Chan's The Protector) but sadly, have long since gone.

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - A Diversion: Chaplin Chang

Okay, not a location but a person. Why this person? Well, for those who are not Bruce Lee fans his name may be a bit strange, but people with a bit more knowledge about the world of Bruce Lee will be familiar with Chaplin's name. Chaplin - although acting in this film opposite Bud Spencer - was largely a behind-the-scenes guy who worked on the production team of both Way of The Dragon and Enter the Dragon.

Here he is as Bud's mysterious contact in Hong Kong (and Bud gets to follow him to Macau as we will see in later posts).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong

Here's one that is pretty unrecognisable these days - largely thanks to the impressive amount of reclamation that has gone into the area in the last 30 years.

After we left Bud, last seen in Wanchai on the back of a pedicab, somehow he manages to peddle completely around to the other side of the island and stop off at the old Tai Pak Floating Restaurant ferry pier. Now remember this film was made in 1975, a whole year before the newly launched Jumbo would open, and the Tai Pak (and possibly the Sea Palace as well?) was the only restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour.

These days the small piers where you catch the shuttle ferries over to the Jumbo Kingdom are situated quite close to their destination on the waterfront at Shum Wan Pier Drive. In 1975 the piers were all the way over on the waterfront at Wu Nam Street. The area that used to house the old Tai Pak ferry pier now houses the Aberdeen Bus terminus.

The photo above shows Wu Nam Street as it was in 2009, courtesy of Streetview. The entrance into the bus terminus (behind the low green roof) is the approximate location of where the Tai Pak pier used to be located.

Of course, a trip to Aberdeen wouldn't be complete without at least 1 view of the Tai Pak. In the background you can see the green hillock that houses the Aberdeen Seminary.

Bud's destination is a floating mahjong den called the Golden Moon. In the last screenshot above you can see the old HK Electric power station. This was caught on film a couple of years earlier in Enter The Dragon. The power station was eventually moved to Lamma Island and South Horizons (a large residential complex) was built on parts of the old site.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Johnston Road junction with Fleming Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

A little after we saw Bud outside the Lung Moon, he hops on a pedicab and gives the poor driver a hard time by the mere fact that he is a fat bastard and weighs more than the poor dude can handle. Anyway, we next see the struggling pedicab still heading down Johnston Road but this time at the large intersection with Fleming Road.

These shots are great because I can see that just in this small stretch of road there are still a lot of surrounding buildings that still stand. The first is from the top two shots and it stands on the corner of Johnston and Wanchai Road.

See, still there and being looked after, although the view to the mountains at the end of Wanchai Road is no longer clear and we now just get the side of a high rise rather than the green foliage that was there in 1975. As the camera pans left we can see a few buildings at the other side of the street (Johnston Road turns south here and these buildings are actually on part of Wanchai Road still). Here is the 2009 Streetview.

Well, you can see the square-windowed place (the Ming Tak Building) was still around in 2009 but I can confirm that not long after I originally made this post, it was demolished and redeveloped. Sometimes I feel this blog has a nasty knack of alerting developers to their next victim :-(.

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Johnston Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

As Bud walks around looking for clues we see him head into the environs around Wanchai and a very famous landmark that has only just recently disappeared (around 2009). It's the Lung Moon restaurant along Johnston Road just opposite Southorn Playground.

The Lung Moon is of course the red-coloured building at the back right. The restaurant's sign was a prominent fixture in this part of HK for many years. I seem to remember the restaurant was replaced by high rise serviced apartments.

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - The Cenotaph, Hong Kong

Just a brief shot here as Bud walks across the Cenotaph garden. Of course these days it's off-limits to the public but at least we get a nice view of the previously mentioned HSBC building and Standard Chartered Bank HQ and the current version of Prince's Building (and just a glimpse of the corner of the Supreme Court/ex-LegCo building peeking out behind the Cenotaph).

One thing to note is the wavy roofed pavilions in the background. These of course do still stand in and around the water feature in Statue Square. It wouldn't surprise me to see them go over the next few years though.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong

Some scene setting takes place - as it does in any film that wants to show its viewers that they really did go to HK - and we get a few shots of a 1975 Central including the following view down the tramlines along Des Voeux Rd Central.

The spire-like construction was the old Bank of East Asia building - sadly demolished in 1980 to make way for their current HQ. Sadly, we can't blame the current HK Govt for the loss of so many great buildings in Central because most of them disappeared under the Colonial Administration - however, the current Govt seems to be increasingly willing in continuing that short sighted policy.

As the camera pulls back we can see some old favourites - including rather oblique views of the old Chartered Bank Building and of course the previous incarnation of the HSBC HQ - both now gone. On the right you can see the current version of Prince's Building, and at extreme right in the lower shot we can see the edge of the former Supreme Court/former LegCo building - also still around.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

I have a big thank you to say to Dan who writes the excellent Hong Kong On Film blog and actually sent me a copy of this film.

A quick surmise: Bud Spencer (real name Carlo Pedersoli, who sadly died in June 2016) plays a surly and burly Napoli cop who has a penchant for smacking people on the top of their heads with his fist in order to subdue them. He is framed by a cop traitor and has to chase various bad guys around the world (in this case Italy, obviously, Bangkok and Hong Kong and Macau) to prove his innocence and catch the bad guy. Obviously we shall focus on the Hong Kong and Macau scenes for this blog but if anyone is interested in Bangkok in 1975 then it's probably also well worth a look.

Anyway, the opening Hong Kong scene (when Flatfoot arrives in HK from Thailand) is a panning helicopter shot high above the harbour. The scene lasts for quite sometime and takes in an almost 360 degree view so we get a good look at the whole area.

Above: looking along the island towards Kennedy Town. Actually, the view looks almost as hazy in 1975 as it does today. Below: Where the large ferry is moored on the left is the HK->Macau ferry terminal, now replaced by the Shun Tak Centre.

Above: you can see the old inter-island ferry piers that lined Connaught Road. They are still there but have moved about 250 metres out and the space in between has been reclaimed and now supports the massive IFC development and Four Seasons Hotel. Below: Look carefully on the left and you will see what was HK's tallest structure - the Connaught Centre (aka Jardine House). The piers directly in front of it was the old Central vehicular ferry pier (more on that in a later post).

Above: looking all the way along towards Causeway Bay and beyond. Looks as though the Wanchai reclamation had just been finished and was awaiting development. Below: the tip of Kowloon can now be seen. In 1975 the old KCR terminus station was still standing (just) but Kowloon still lacked the high rise development that has taken over it of late (now that the airport has moved).

A bit more of the peninsula revealed in these last two shots. Eagle-eyed and HK-savvy peeps will be able to spot the dark blur of Kowloon Park, Ocean Terminal, the Ferry Point Estate and a large dark area to the left of the Ferry Point Estate which is the old Yau Ma Tei typhoon shelter.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Protector - Jackie Chan (1985) - Nathan Road, Kowloon

It took the sharp eyes of my friend and regular contributor, Thomas, to spot the exact location of these grabs taken along Nathan Road for The Protector.

It's from the part of the film when the two heroes, JC and Danny Aiello, are fresh off the plane from NYC and hop in a cab to go to their hotel.

It was really the top photo which helped because hidden behind all that neon on the right hand side is a large vertical advert for the NanYang Commercial Bank (that's it with the red outline on the right) - more commonly known these days as just the N.C.B. The second grab was actually just taken a bit further up by about 100 metres and if you look carefully on the upper shot you will see that cluster of yellow signs in the background that feature much closer on the second grab.

Anyway, many thanks to Thomas and he kindly provided the current day location, from which I have made the following Streetview grabs. The top shot above corresponds to the top shot below and you can see that although the neon has gone and the buildings have changed a bit, the bus stop on the left remains.

And here is the same junction we see on the film shot where Nathan Rd intersects with Dundas Street.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Soldier of Fortune - Clark Gable (1955) - Vehicular Ferry Pier, Yau Ma Tei

Also known as Jordan Road Ferry Pier because it was located at the westernmost end of Jordan Road in Yau Ma Tei - when it was still part of the waterfront (obviously...).

Of course, the ferry pier became a victim of the mass reclamation and was demolished in 1996. The West Kowloon reclamation has put paid to the aforementioned waterfront. The current location seen above is now occupied in part by Austin Station.

Soldier of Fortune was filmed in 1955, a few years before the Ferry Point Estate was constructed just to the immediate north of the ferry pier.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Soldier of Fortune - Clark Gable (1955) - Kennedy Town Praya, Hong Kong

Originally I though this was where Connaught Road turns inland into Des Voeux Road in Sheung Wan, however, given that at one point we can see what can only be the northern slope of Mount Davis in the background has led me to believe that this is the part of the tram line where Des Voeux Road West leads into Kennedy Town Praya around Shek Tong Tsui.

It's the location of Hank Lee's Godown. Here is what was a nice open view over to the Kowloon mountains in the background.

The upper shot shows the view to the immediate left of the lower one as the camera pans to the right. In Soldier of Fortune Hank Lee runs his business from the Pedder Industrial Co. Godown. Pedder is a name synonymous with Hong Kong because it was the name of the new colony's first harbour master and went on to be used for several sites around what is now Central. Pedder Street bears his name as does the nice old Pedder Building (built in 1924) along it which housed.

Perhaps this was a real building, or perhaps the filmmakers just thought it was an authentic sounding Hongkong-style name that would fit the film's setting. Who knows? Here's what the same strip of land looks like nowadays. At least this is the closest Streetview I can get without the view being blocked by a tram car.

Here is another shot from the film - looking west, which shows in the background the slope of Mount Davis. You can see how close to the water's edge the tram line used to run. No, the tram line hasn't moved at all since it was first built in 1904, but the water's edge now stands a further 100 metres to the north thanks to reclamation.

Here is another modern Streetview grab that shows the same approximate angle.