Thursday, January 24, 2013

Osprey - Project A (1983)

Not a location this time but rather a small snippet of (rather sad) history surrounding a ship that was used in Jackie Chan's Project A back in 1983. You will remember the scene when a Rear Admiral and his entourage are attacked and kidnapped from their ship by pirates. Anyway, it turns out that the ship used by JC for this scene was a familiar sight around HK in the 1970s and 80's. It was called the Osprey and was (according to various comments on FLICKR) was rebuilt in the mid-70's in Denmark (from an iron 'Baltic Trader') by a chap called Arthur Erickson. It was used for various sailings before eventually ending up in Hong Kong and was obviously of the right vintage for JC and co to use it for these sea-based scenes. Here are some more screen grabs.

A beautiful looking ship, I'm sure you will agree, and if anyone is in any doubt as to its identity, here is a sneaky grab that captures the vessel's name as it passes by the pirate junk.

Sadly, and it must have been fairly soon after it was featured in this film in 1983, the 56-metre ship sank with the loss of all but 1 crew member in the late summer of 1983. September of that year saw the arrival of Typhoon Ellen which blew the hell out of the territory. The Osprey had sailed about 12 miles south of HK in order to ride out the storm but was sunk with the loss of 8(?) crew members. The survivor, Hiraoki Ogura, was picked up later by the Wanshan Islands (about 20 miles SW of HK) after seemingly floating there from the sinking site. Very lucky considering how big the waves must have been and the fact that the waters around HK were notorious (at that time) for shark attacks.

I have no idea if the vessel was ever salvaged or even if the sinking location is known [edit: here is an update on my main blog], but thanks to this film we at least have some documentary video of what it used to look like.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

All About Ah Long - Chow Yun Fat (1989) - Energy Plaza, East TST

Energy Plaza seems to be quite a popular spot for movies through the 80's. Here, it is the office where Sylvia Chang's marketing company is based. We get a quick look at the outside.

Followed by a scene of everyone walking along the East TST pedestrian area (next to the old Urban Council park) with Energy Plaza in the background. On a side note the terracotta-coloured tiles that are on the wall below are still there, as is the twin-headed streetlight.

The only thing of note I know about Energy Plaza is that it once housed a rather famous gym at the top owned by local boy Eddie Maher. The gym was a stomping ground for all of the 80's-era HK action stars. I have no idea when it closed but it woulnd't surprise me if its demise coincided with the fall from favour suffered by HK movies in the 90's/00's.

Perhaps someone in the know can tell me when it closed (is Eddie Maher still in HK?).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Friends - David Chiang (1973) - Wong Toi Shan, Kam Tin

In a surprising move, Shaws decided to head out all the way into the Kam Tin plain for some of the scenes involving the kidnapping of Fu Sheng. Quite apt really seeing as it was often this general area that gangsters moved kidnapping victims to when demanding ransoms (I believe Li Ka-shing's son Victor was held in a shed in this area during his kidnapping).

I'm not 100% sure about the exact location of this place but Wong Toi Shan area fits the geography the best. The giveaway in this case was the distinctive pointy peak of Kwun Yam Shan in the background of many shots, such as this one with the main henchman about to deal out some pain.

Yes, that is Kwun Yam Shan just above his right shoulder and Tai Mo Shan away to the right hand side of the screen grab. The angle on Kwun Yam Shan indicates Wong Toi Shan village area was close to where the filming took place. Here are some more shots from the same scene.