Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Sand Pebbles - Steve McQueen (1966) - Tai Tau Chau, Sai Kung

I haven't really covered much of The Sand Pebbles despite the fact that it is a great film. The reason is that the HK-filmed scenes were, in general, shot in some rather out of the way places in the northern part of Port Shelter that is called Rocky Harbour. We've already found out where the junk barrier was shot and so I thought this post might help to add a bit more context because it was taken around the same area but looking back towards the direction of Sai Kung town with the famous ridge line behind it

The ridge line in the background includes Pyramid hill on the left and Ma On Shan on the right and has been seen quite a few times in this blog already. In the screen grab there is also an island on the left side on the frame and this is Tai Tau Chau. If you ever get the chance to go here you'll find out that Tai Tau Chau these days seems to be largely used for burying the dead because it is now strewn with hillside graves. Anyway, following my recent trip to the reservoir area, I managed to grab the following snap from the top of the west dam wall which gives an overview of the same area albeit from a height at the top of the wall (which didn't exist until 10 or so years after the film was made).

The junk barrier was somewhere around the edge of the lake at the bottom of the screen and the San Pablo boat in the film grab is seen smoking (fake smoke by the way) its way in the body of water in front of that lower cofferdam wall. You can see Tai Tau Chau on the left in my photo too.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Private Eyes - Hui Brothers (1976) - Perkins Road, Happy Valley

Sometimes, not often, locations are quick to find courtesy of some very obvious clues. In this scene from The Private Eyes, the road sign behind our heroes' VW Beetle tells us they are sitting on Perkins Road in Happy Valley.

Thankfully for us, Happy Valley remains one of those areas of HK where much of the older buildings still remains and looking at the current Streetview images we can see the house they are spying on (or at least its front gate) hasn't changed.

The gate is exactly the same! It's either a matching replacement or just very well maintained.

The view up the road (as in the top film grabs) shows that the road's aspect hasn't changed much either, I suspect they are the same trees seen on the film lining the pavement.

This is the current view up the side road where the Hui's had their car parked. The old road sign has gone and there looks to have been some redevelopment at the far end but the walls on both sides haven't changed much.

And finally the view from our intrepid Private I's vantage point looking down the road to the house they are keeping an eye on.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Taxi Driver - David Chiang (1975) - HK ->Macau Ferry Terminal (interior), Hong Kong

We've seen various snaps of the exterior of the HK<-> Macau Ferry terminal courtesy of films such as The Man With The Golden Gun and Flatfoot in Hong Kong, but how about a few shots of the interior?

I don't have any independent verification on this, but am happy to make corrections if pointed to them, however there is a scene towards the end of The Taxi Driver when our baddies (or what's left of them) try to hot foot it over to Macau.

They are cornered by our heroes in what I can only assume is the interior of the terminal.

 I'm not sure when this older terminal was demolished but I do know that the Shun Tak Centre, which houses the current ferry terminal on its lower floors, was originally opened in 1984, so it's reasonable to assume the earlier terminal closed in the early 80's or very late 70's. Not that long after this film was made in fact.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - HK Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA for short) is a veritable HK higher education institute dealing with degrees and diplomas in performing arts: music, acting, opera, dance, film production etc. In Noble House the main campus building along Gloucester Road doubles as the HQ for the suffering Ho Pak bank which undergoes a run thanks to some malicious rumours spread by a certain Quillan Gornt.

The Academy was founded in 1984 and not so long ago (2003) also managed to obtain a second - extremely attractive - campus in Pokfulam in the form of the Bethanie building.

If you have kids in HK then without doubt at some point you will come to the Academy to visit the various Childrens' shows that play at the Lyric Theatre (so far we've watched things such as Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, Room on a Broom, The Gruffalo, Mr Ben and many more).

Anyway here it is as it appears on film as the Ho Pak Bank.

And here it is looking exactly the same (minus the fake bank emblem) courtesy of Streetview.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Game of Death - Bruce Lee (1978) - Star Ferry, Tsim Sha Tsui

Some shots of the TST Star Ferry and adjoining bus terminus from 1978 that I had neglected to do last year (yes, by now you should have realised how disorganised and adhoc this blog is).

The above grabs look as though they must have been filmed from one of the windows in Star House.

Proof, if ever you needed it, that the interior space on the Star Ferries hasn't really changed much in 40 years (most of the current fleet was inaugurated in the 1960's, I believe).

Friday, June 14, 2013

All About Ah Long - Chow Yun Fat (1989) - Estrada de San Francisco, Macau

For those who haven't already seen it, the denouement of this film takes place on the street-based racing circuit that runs around peninsular Macau. The Macau Grand Prix is a long-standing and very popular event and once every year the streets are closed off as the various races get underway.

From a practical point of view the film had to be filmed during one of the real Grand Prix (not sure the Macau Govt would have allowed these major roads to be closed for anything other than that event) along the proper, so-called, Guia Circuit. It's an autumn-based event so I expect this part of the film was filmed in the autumn of 1988?

Anyway, in the first of a few street scenes as the bikers race around the course, we get a few glimpses of Macau, starting with the Military Club building along Estrada de San Francisco.

It only takes a quick glimpse of the similarly angled Streetview shot below to see how much development has occurred in Macau. The big monolith at the back of the lower shot is Stanley Ho's new Lisboa Casino. It certainly gets my vote as being one of the ugliest buildings on the planet and seriously ruins the whole Macau skyline. Coincidentally, when it was first opened it was Chow Yun Fat who featured on the TV adverts, but I suspect that was due to his fame as the God of Gamblers rather than the fact that he raced by here on a motorbike.

Anyway, other than getting a lick of new paint, the Clube De Militar has changed not a jot. Another good example of how well compared to HK the Macau authorities value their older buildings (just a shame they couldn't apply the same feeling of preservation to their skyline).

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Dragon Garden, Tsuen Wan

A popular location for foreign film crew because of its 'Chinoise' style, most people will remember it clearly from The Man with the Golden Gun but here we also get to catch a proper close-up glimpse of the house within the extensive grounds.

The famous red front doors to the garden were put into storage when the Govt clawed back some land to widen Castle Peak Road (it went from being a nice bamboo surrounded lane into a highway. One of the doors was reinstalled a while back in its new place and you can see the Streetview below.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Taxi Driver - David Chiang (1975) - Kai Tak Terminal Building, Kowloon

So as opposed to a fake Kai Tak courtesy of Noble House, Shaws decided to go for a more authentic location for the finale of The Taxi Driver and use the actual terminal building of the airport. Now, although I went in and out of HK via Kai Tak on a few occasions (once I even missed my boarding call and still managed to get through customs and run down the terminal strip to my gate in time for the plane to leave - it's very disconcerting having a member of the airport staff approach you as you run and refer to you by your name and telling you to run quicker!!).

Anyway, moving on to my *spoiler alert* and our intrepid taxi driver accompanied by the HK Police head to Kai Tak to catch the mastermind of the bank robbery as he boards his flight to some exotic distant locale (probably Vancouver, right? :)).

When cornered he threatens to blow every up but his suitcase contains nothing but all his money from the robbery and it soon ends up all over the floor.

 Alas, even as I write these words, Kai Tak has been reborn as a funky new cruise terminal (it had a soft opening only just yesterday!!) and memories of the airport terminal will soon fade. There are still some fading remnants of the terminal building still around (such as the various small roads and walkways that connected to the terminal building) but by and large it has all but gone, perhaps to be replaced by more housing?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - The Peninsula Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui

Okay, so in the book, the hotel in question is actually named The Victoria and Albert Hotel, but anyone who has been to HK will know that it is the grand old lady of TST that our American protagonists settle down in. In the TV show, I think perhaps the name was a bit too prominent for our film makers to cover up, so they just left it as is.

Back in 1989 we can still see the place before it was given its additional office tower (added in 1994) and the basement carpark that is now accessed from the main driveway seen above. Actually, I'm not sure when the carpark was added, but perhaps at the same time as the 30-floor office block? As a result of the carpark the front driveway was raised a couple of feet and the main entrance lost its steps as a result.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan

The Shun Tak Centre - the locations of the HK/Macau Ferry Terminal for those who are not familiar with HK - is used on a couple of occasions as a stand in for Kai Tak Airport Terminal. First there is this shot of Gordon Jackson walking past the ground floor escalators.

When I was first writing about Noble House locations on my other blog, I had initially mistaken this for the real Kai Tak terminal because there was a similar escalator system that led up to the terminal viewing gallery and cafe. Anyway, following a quick trip to Macau on Saturday I managed to get a reasonably similar angle with my phone. See below. 

As you can see it hasn't really changed at all in nearly 25 years.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry, Kowloon

I'm gonna kill a few birds with one stone here. As the number 1 thing to do on a foreign film shot in HK - we get the requisite shot of the famous Star Ferry ferries (now under-utilised and under threat due to stupid, but expected nonetheless, Govt planning and bureaucracy) and their Kowloon-side berth.

The first few shots show the ferry heading off to Kowloon-side, the film camera being positioned on HK Island looking north across the harbour. We know this because in the background we can see the Man Buildings (aka Ferry Point Estate) again.

On the last grab we can just see the gold buildings of the 中港城, or China Hong Kong City building that stands on Canton Road in TST - they are the 4 patterned glass buildings top right. Then we see the ferry pulling into the TST pier, this time with the camera on Kowloon-side looking south towards HK Island with Victoria Peak in the background. Look through the haze and you will see Jardine House just to the right of the ferry, and further to the right of that building are those that we just saw along Connaught Road. as mentioned in previous posts, this whole view has changed immensely and is now dominated by the IFC development which includes IFC2 - HK's second tallest building.

Finally we disembark the ferry and take a right along the sea front right next to the public piers. If you have ever caught a shuttle over to the restaurants on Lamma Island - this is the place you are usually picked up. The round metal railings you can see are still there, as is the ferry building behind.

The last shot shows us looking back towards the bus terminus behind JCVD. This was for a while under threat of being redeveloped into a sterile plaza - the bus terminus was going to be relocated to the other side of Nathan Road - almost certainly the final nail in the coffin of the Star Ferry. Thankfully, in this case the uproar was so loud that the Govt suddenly woke up to the nonsense of the idea and the Star Ferry lives on...until the next time that is.

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Connaught Road, Central

I'm just rounding off the Double Impact locations with a few no-brainers - odd shots that are easy to place but should be included anyway - starting with some of the buildings that line Connaught Road in Central.

For obvious reasons, filmmakers like to include helicoptered shots of the HK skyline and here is one in which we can see a few recognisable landmarks. Starting with picture one below we can see the east tower (i.e. Block 3) of Exchange Square and next to it the towering blue-glassed oblong of the Hang Seng Bank HQ. Incidentally, this latter one stands where the old Central Fire Station used to stand.

Believe it or not even this angle from a helicopter is no longer possible because right smack bag in front of  the Hang Seng Building now stands IFC1 - part of the IFC development that includes what was once HK's tallest building (until the ICC was built in Kowloon) - the IFC2 - and a huge mall.

In these next couple of shots we can see some much smaller buildings to the right of the Hang Seng HQ. It looks as though the next 4 buildings have already all been demolished - up to and including the gold one with the red sign at the top. What stands in their place now is the new Hong Kong HQ of the Agricultural Bank of China.

All other buildings (including Chinachem Plaza with the red top) on the right hand side still remain, as can be attested by this Streetview grab.