Friday, 22 February 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Chi Ma Wan, Lantau

A small secluded bay on the south coast of Lantau Island served as the intrepid heroes base. The Chi Ma Wan peninsular is home to several bays, one is called Tai Long Wan, another houses the Sea Ranch development (some weird ghost town that was promoted as a seaside getaway) and another just around the headland is called Mong Tung Wan. It was this latter one that was used for JCVD's hidden lair.

Since I posted this particular location, my friend Andi from Germany (of the Hong Kong Movie Tours blog) has been along and taken a bunch of photos around the area. As usual he has done a great job at matching camera angles almost perfectly and he has also included many shots from the beach which are seen during the battle scene. Anyway, here is that post.

Sadly there is no public transport here, but you can potentially reach it via Lantau proper and hike as Andi did or get a ferry to nearby Cheung Chau and then pay someone with a kaito to take you there. There is a very sporadic ferry service to the nearby Sea Ranch development which sits in the next part of the bay (called Yi Long Wan).

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Sai Ying Pun Community Complex, Hong Kong

Back in 1991 the former "Old Mental Hospital" on High Street was about to undergo a bit of a transformation, turning it into the modern complex that can be seen today. The fact is that only the bottom two stories' facade has been preserved and the rest of the building has been completely remodeled.

The shot above looks to have been taken at through the main entrance on High St. Here's what it looks like today from the front.

And the following shot shows the A-Mah (old HK name for a female helper/maid) carrying one of the twins up Eastern St.

Streetview hasn't been up this road, so until I go and get some shots of my own we will have to make do with this shot looking up from the junction with Eastern and High St.

I'm fairly certain that this last shot below is a studio mock-up. It has an air of falseness about it and I don't think there has ever been an entrance at this place where it is sunk into the ground with steps going down to it. Of course I could be wrong because I have no idea what was done here before the renovations (after this film was made) and Streetview doesn't let me take a sneak peek up the other side of the building. I'll head over there when I have some time and report back :-)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City

Here is a shot that will automatically trigger some very nostalgic feelings within a whole generation of Hongkongers. Yes, a shot of a plane flying low over Kowloon City as it prepares to land at the old airport.

The site of this one is fairly easy to spot because Kowloon City has remained fairly untouched in the intervening years. This shot was taken at the intersection between Nga Tsi Wai Road and Hau Wong Road.

The church you can see in the lower pictures is still around although the Hang Seng Bank branch that was once on the ground floor has been replaced by what looks to be a tutorial centre. I'm sure that you may think that since the airport has moved that the Kowloon City residents have sighed in relief from the constant noise and worry of planes crashing into their homes, but the fact is that many of the businesses in the area have disappeared since they no longer get any foot traffic from the nearby airport. A typical days business during the week in Kowloon City is now only ever even matched at the weekend. However, the area seems to be reinventing itself as a Thai restaurant, Chiuchow restaurant and Chinese hot pot hub. Here is the same location via Streetview.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Lust, Caution - Tang Wei (2007) - The White House, Victoria Road

The Hong Kong compound where Mr Yee (Tony Leung) and his wife (Joan Chen) live in Hong Kong is a rather enigmatic place along Victoria Road that is usually referred to as The White House. The location is along Victoria Road at the base of Mount Davis between Kennedy Town and Pok Fu Lam.

Centamap has it marked as part of an old disused battery but in fact it was originally a mess building for the Royal Engineers. During the 1950's it was given over to Special Branch and used as a detention centre for suspected spies. This included it being used during the 1967 riots as a holding place for trouble makers - it was remote enough to hold people without any interference while the authorities waited for the troubles to cool down. More recently there are rumours that it was used as a staging point and debriefing centre for Tiananmen Square protesters who had managed to flee the military crackdown on the Mainland and were spirited away with the help of the HK authorities and other international jurisdictions including the USA (see Operation Yellowbird here).

These days it is currently being redeveloped into an international University campus for MBA teaching. The company responsible for its redevelopment has promised to protect as much of it as possible but I guess we will have to wait and see how it turns out.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Opening sequence, Various locations

The opening title sequence gives us a different view point though and takes us from west to east. First off we get to see the backside of High West (Lung Fu Shan) as the camera sweeps across and reveals Mount Davis and Kennedy town. Look carefully and you may be able to see the twin chimney stacks of what I believe was the Kennedy Town Abattoir, as well as Green Island and just to the distant hazy left is Kau Yi Chau (aka Han's Island from the B&W composite photo in Enter the Dragon).

Next we move over a little more to the east to just behind HK University and can see various buildings that are still around - not surprising seeing as this film is only a little over 20 years old. For example in the shot below the three buildings at the front bottom are on Po Shan Road and are called Piccadilly Mansion, Hamilton Court and (one block of) Po Shan Mansions, respectively. The tall building top left is Hong Kong Plaza and the three identical blocks on the right are the three blocks of a development called Connaught Garden.

Next as we move along we now look over the harbour. I like this shot because I can actually see where I live (although it's a wee bit blurry) in the far distance. But you can make out the transceiver on top of Beacon Hill (that tiny white splodge on the hill in the back centre and if you know your HK geography you should be able to guess that the next major bump in the ridgeline (to the right) is actually that of Lion Rock.

The camera keeps speeding east (to the right) and this time on the far right we can just make out the Ferry Point Estate a.k.a Man Buildings - they've been around since the early sixties and are fairly recognisable, however, this is a view that can no longer be found because the West Kowloon reclamation has blocked it all off and instead these days you will just be able to see the skyscraper development which has the new ICC as its centrepiece.

I was expecting the skyline to be a bit clearer on this DVD - but it seems as though even back in 1991 (well, actually I think the filming took place in 1990) there was a fair amount of haze over Kowloon. Not as much as today but more than I expected...

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Western Street, Hong Kong Island

After the inauguration ceremony, JCVD's parents (with twins on board) head home in their nice car followed closely by Uncle Frank in his red convertible. One of the roads they drive down is De Voeux road West where it intersects with Western St. We know this because we can see Western Police Station in Sai Ying Pun on the corner.

Look closely on a couple of those snaps and you'll see the circular turrets that form part of the external walls to many police stations in HK. The steps in the second screen grab above are of course those of the Police Station entrance. Unfortunately for me the current Streetview image has the Police Station covered in scaffolding getting a facelift so you'll have to take my word that it's the same place.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Cha Kwo Ling Road Service Rd, Yau Tong

Classic JCVD this time with an opening that is supposed to show the inauguration ceremony for the cross harbour tunnel. The film crew did a fairly good job with a mock up of the entrance but the tunnel itself was fairly obviously a matte painting stuck behind it.

Anyway, some clues in the background tell us where the film set was created. The first being the distinctive shape of Mt Parker on HK island behind and the second is the nearby rockface that looks to have been blasted to create space for the road. Here are a few grabs.

Anyway, the road we can see is still around although understandably a little bit more built up than it was in 1991. The giveaway is in fact the rocky face behind the camera man - it's a bit dirtier than it was back then but the shame shape can still be made out.

Little known fact: Although Sheldon Lettich is credited as the director of this film, it was in fact action master Vic Armstrong who was in charge as he showed Sheldon the "ropes". Also, Vic's brother Andy - another leading light in today's stunt industry - who played JCVD's gunned down father.

The Young Master - Jackie Chan (1980) - Lok Wo Sha Lane, Wu Kai Sha

This scene is the other one that shares a location with Drunken Master. Sadly, it's a location that is pretty much unrecognisable these days and I have only really been able to ascertain its exact place thanks to a handy 1979 aerial photo I obtained from the local mapping office (these have proved invaluable for this kind of project).

The scene is the one when the evil trio consisting of Fung Hak On, Lee Hoi Sang and Wai Pak intercept the police caravan transporting evil boss dude Whang In Sik from one place to another. Whang is strapped to a cart in the blazing heat, gets free and then unleashes some really awesome retribution to his captors. All of this scene takes place on a sandy track at the foot of Ngau Ngak Shan (a.k.a the Hunchbacks) - part of the mountain that forms the mountains of Ma On Shan.

Unfortunately for us, this area - which has featured on a whole heap of 70's and 80's films - has fallen victim to massive amounts of redevelopment as Ma On Shan has developed into a new town and the Ma On Shan MTR Rail track terminates right next to this location at Wu Kai Sha.

Despite this I figured I would head out there and grab a few shots of the location where most of the action formerly took place, but first here is a reminder of the scene in the film.

 Now, this sandy path was fairly long and connected various points around the Wu Kai Sha area (including what used to be a quarry at Whitehead Point and Starfish Bay) and has since been removed. However, the path's legacy is quite noticeable because, like with many other parts of rebuilt HK, the route the path took hasn't been developed with any buildings but did form the basis for a road that now follows its length reasonably well. The road is Lok Wo Sha Lane and it runs from Whitehead Point, past Starfish Bay and terminates in front of the Li Po Chun United World College.

The part of the path that was the widest - and therefore seemed to be the focus for filming - was a bend that curved from NW to SW at the site of what is now the carpark in front of the aforementioned college.

Here's what I am talking about on the 1979 aerial view. I've circled the part of the path where most of the scene was filmed.

 In a modern context we have the following view from GoogleEarth.

There's been no reclamation along this part of the coastline at all but the development on top is marked, with what was rural farmland and quarries being converted for high rise housing, a rail line, a highway etc.
The area I have circled sits right in front of a small carpark and remains untouched other than being converted into a small green space with trees and flowers.See the photos below of what it looks like today - looking south towards the mountain.

And here is a photo taken from the green area that once saw Whang In Sik kicking 10 bells out of a load of HK stuntmen. Hard to believe it's the same place really, but that's HK for you.

The Young Master - Jackie Chan (1980) - Nr Wong Cheuk Yeung, Sai Kung

The finale of The Young Master takes place on a hillside for which we are given a few clues as to the true location. The first clue is the unmistakable view of the West Dam of High Island reservoir in the background of many angles. Here are a few for starters:

The dam wall pretty much faces a westerly direction so we can assume this location is somewhere NW. Next we can see the hillsides behind some of the closeups of Whang in Sik. Anyone who is familiar with Sai Kung's ridgelines will perhaps recognise some familiar shapes here in the form of Pyramid Hill and Bendy Hill (Wan/Kau Kuk Shan).

 Pyramid Hill is to the left of Whang in Sik
In the above shot we see the pointy bit of
Bendy Hill and (just) Ma On Shan to the right

Speaking of Ma On Shan, here is a shot of it from the angle of Sai Kung. Of course this gives us a fairly decent triangulation of where this scene was filmed. However, since I haven't walked up this particular hill (yet) I can only give an approximation of where it is.

Coupled with a few more shots that give us glimpses over the hills to the Tolo Channel away to the north (and even a brief view of Pat Sin Leng), it appears that JC and his crew traipsed up to a small area called Wong Chuk Yeung. At the top of Chuk Yeung Road the hillside flattens out considerably and the clues in the picture point to somewhere to the east of the village - near to the fire lookout. Possibly close to where Stage 4 of the Maclehose Trail passes. The proximity of the road means the film crew would have had no problem driving all their equipment and actors up there on a daily basis (this scene undoubtedly took a long time to shoot).

The scene of course ends with JC turning superhuman thanks to the wonderful anaesthetic powers of bong water.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Young Master - Jackie Chan (1980) - Chat Sing Temple, Ma On Shan

Andi has already covered this location quite well in his HK Movie Tour blog but I thought it is worth mentioning that it also gets a very very brief show (blink and you'll miss it) in JC's The Young Master. You catch a quick glimpse whilst JC is doing his best to run away from the Police Chief's son (played by Yuen Biao).

The wall in front of this temple seems to be almost unique in HK and I can't recall having seen anywhere else with it. I have no idea of the purpose it serves other than being decorative. It's no surprise this location was used again in this film as The Young Master shares two locations with Drunken Master, this one and the sandy path that used to be located next to Starfish Bay - both locations within 1km of each other.

Anyway, here is a modern view via Streetview and seeing as this film was only shot 33 years ago (okay, maybe that is a long time for some of you young whippersnappers) it wouldn't surprise me if the tree you can see on the left above is the same one you can see to the right of the temple below.

On a side note, despite watching this film many times in my youth I was too naive to realise that JC gets his super strength from drinking the water from Fung Fung's opium pipe in the grand finale (location to be revealed in a later post).