Friday, 27 September 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok

Just a quick grab from a pick up shot taken somewhere in Kowloon grabbed my attention because it looked very familiar to me but I could place it. Along to the rescue comes Thomas again with the identification of Sai Yeung Choi St near Soy Street.

Here's what Thomas had to say in his comments... Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mong Kong. The building on the left showed 新時代電器中心。 That building still exist and is between Soy and Dundas. The ground floor of it is littered with mobile service carriers and mobile device vendors. The second floor for some time was a Gym, but is not vacant. It would seem the Sasa chain would occupy it in no time...

There is actually another give away. In the background there is a red vertical business sign saying 中喬國貨 (Chung Kiu China Products Department Store). The store is long gone but the building still exist. That was the corner of Shan Tung Street.
So there you go, pretty definitive I would say. Once again thanks to Thomas. Here is a modern comparison (at least an approximate one).

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Stanley Military Barracks, Stanley Peninsula

I have a big thank you to say to Neil Macdonald for helping identify the following location (and a few more I will put up in the next few days). For those who have missed his great comments, I have made a post out of them here.

Neil used to work as a production manager for Salon Films who were responsible for co-producing many of the films I have featured on this blog - including Bloodsport, Double Impact and many more. Basically, Neil was the location manager for these films and so he is probably the one single person in the world who can provide some great answers about the places used in them.

Anyway, one of the first things he identified was the Stanley Barracks (Stanley Fort as it was back then) used for the training scenes in Bloodsport, as well as the 'school' that the young Frank was bullied at. Here are the grabs.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that this facility is now occupied by the PLA (that's the Peoples' Liberation Army in case you didn't already know), and my usual resources (Streetview and Panoramio) don't have anything helpful I can't really provide any decent comparison for confirmation so we will just have to accept it as it is. The thing I can't do is provide an exact location within the compound - this will have to wait until some kind soul makes some more comprehensive pictures available. The PLA do host open days at various barracks, but I'm not sure if Stanley is included let alone whether non-Chinese (like me) would be allowed in.

Having said that, the building seen in the top two snaps does happen to have been snapped back in the 1960's courtesy of the Queens Royal Surrey Regiment who were stationed there at the time. I can't seem to do a direct embed of the picture so have copy and pasted it. For the sake of acknowledgement the website it can be found on is at the following URL (and is well worth a read):

Look carefully and you will see it is the same building, albeit when they filmed Bloodsport the trees had grown (well, it was 25 or so years later). The soldiers above are basically standing/seated in the same spot that the guy is standing in in the second screen grab.

So, once again many thanks to Neil.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Argyle Street, Mongkok

Okay, I'm not infallible and don't pretend to be, so it's no surprise that somewhere I thought was definitely Nathan Road, in fact turns out to be Argyle Street. Another big thanks to Thomas Ngan for nailing this one courtesy of some very impressive detective work concerning a pawn shop seen in the background.

So first off, here is a reminder of the scene from Affair at T'sien Cha. The key to the identification of the area was the white building with red writing on the right in the first screen grab.

Just as a reminder, here are the comments Thomas made with regards to these pictures:
[see top picture] There was a Pawn Shop in the background (同昌大押)。 The pillars of this pawn shop had been relocated to Stanley. ( The Flickr album also mentioned the Pawn Shop was in Shanghai St, around the present day Langham Place.
So, armed with that knowledge, we can say that the camera was looking west along Argyle St at almost the same place now where the Langham Mall and Hotel are situated (they would be on the left hand side of the screen grab). Here is a Streetview for comparison - our first shot a rough approximation of the position of the camera in the first screen grab, the second one corresponding (this is fuzzy science I hasten to add, nothing is exact) to the second grab. As you can see on the lower shot, the Langham mall and office tower are shining away there on the south side of Argyle Street. The original pawnshop (whose pillars now adorn the pavement outside the reconstructed Murray House in Stanley) would have been situated in the corner section where the Kohler sign is. The modern day descendant of that pawnshop is actually now sitting not far away from this original place, a little further along Argyle Street to the east (behind the camera). Although I have to say the older columned pawnshops are much more attractive, architecturally speaking.

Well, that's another mystery solved with some very handy detective work by Thomas, once again many thanks.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley

Here's another that had me scratching my head, on the positive side the place confirmed (again by Thomas, many thanks) was one I had pondered for many days but in the end gave up because the road layout didn't match despite it being one of only a small handful of places that have a single tram track.

Anyway, thankfully Thomas' rather more expert local eyes have spotted a shop sign that belongs to a dispensary that can still be found today: Regal Dispensary (義成藥房). So, here we are anyway at the intersection between Wong Nai Chung Road and Sing Woo Road next to the Happy Valley tram terminus.

The first shot shows the camera looking east along Wong Nai Chung Road with the prominent Salem advert to the right hand side (that marks the entrance to Sing Woo Road. Here is a modern day comparison and as you can see (and this is why I dismissed it initially) the road has been completely rerouted and shifted several metres to the north of its old position. The old position now nicely paved and our only clue to its relation to the film is the curvy white corner building just past the trees. Look carefully on the screen grab and you'll see it in the background, albeit shrouded in darkness.

The next shot has the car driving up Sing Woo Road. You can see the tramline in the bottom of the screen and look carefully to the right of the traffic lights poles and you can just make out the 'Regal Dispensary' that Thomas spotted and confirmed our location.

Once again here is a modern day comparison but taken much further from the north due to the limitations of Streetview (no, I haven't been to Happy Valley in about 5 years so have nothing in my photo collection that will help). Again you can see the extent of the road rerouting.

But where is Regal Dispensary (義成藥房)? Well, moving in a bit closer  we can see it on the right hand side (just to the right of the traffic lights) - seemingly occupying the same spot it did 20+ years ago when the film was made.

Big thanks go to Thomas.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Double Impact - Jean Claude Van Damme (1991) - Link Road, Happy Valley

Many thanks to Thomas Ngan for spotting this one (and many more) on Link Road. It was featured in the initial car chase scene in Double Impact (well, not really car 'chase', more of a car 'following') and we caught a glimpse of what looked like a school on the opposite side of the road.

Well, it turns out that it was a school and still is albeit with one of the most convoluted names I have ever come across: The Po Leung Kuk Gold and Silver Exchange Society Pershing Tsang School. It doesn't really flow off the tongue, does it, and I suspect it costs them a fortune in letterheads.

The location is unsurprising given that other scenes were filmed nearby around the Happy Valley racecourse and further to the south near the tram terminus, but still sometimes finding things like this are like a needle in a haystack, so many thanks to Thomas for lending his expert eyes. Here's the current view but looking up the hill instead of down.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Canton Road, Mongkok

Just doing some catching up with some newly identified locations courtesy of my good friend Thomas - he's just confirmed a bunch load for me so will be putting them in as posts over the next few weeks as time allows. The first is a street shot from Affair at T'sien Cha when Culp and Cosby hop on their rickshaws and head off to the KCR Terminus in TST. Before they arrive at their destination (to catch the train into Tai Po) we get to see a few shots of local streets, one of them being this location where Canton Road meets Argyle Street. Notice the low sloping roofs on the right hand side of the picture - well, I am going to assume that this was the original Mongkok Market area. Seeing as they were filming on Argyle Street, not 100 yards from this spot for some of the other rickshaw scenes, it's no surprise they are here as well.

As you can see from the current Streetview below the market has been rebuilt, much like many other former traditional street markets, and of course the roads have been improved and cleaned up but wander around this area and you will still find some older buildings that would easily have been around when Cosby and Co were rolling by.

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Private Eyes - Hui Bros (1976) - Royal Theatre, Mongkok

Sadly now closed, as with many other old cinemas, the Royal Theatre is notable because it was HK's very first 70mm cinema. I have it on good authority (courtesy of the recently released HK Film Archive book about Golden Harvest) that the heist scene in Michael Hui's The Private Eyes was filmed - with a whole bunch of extras - inside the screen of this very same theatre (I believe it was leased to Golden Harvest as one of the GH circuit cinemas at the time).

The ever reliable Raymond Lo provides some info on the place here including when it was closed in 1990. What I can confirm is that it was located at what is now the Pioneer Centre at the Mongkok end of Nathan Road where it intersects with Nullah Road opposite Lai Chi Kok Road.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Happy Valley Racecourse, Happy Valley

There is some nice footage of the race course at Happy Valley in Noble House as Dunross (Brosnan) checks out the form of his race horse. I tend to steer clear of these places (in a past life I worked in the IT dept for well known UK betting company and it was enough to put me off gambling for life) but did make a trip out to Shatin once and had no clue what I was doing.

For those who don't know the Chinese name for this place (and surrounding area) is actually just 'racecourse' (Pau Ma Dei 跑馬地 lit: run horse ground) the English name seemingly more poetic but actually a product of some ironic humour courtesy of the first British settlers due to the high number of malaria related deaths from living in the - originally marshy - vicinity.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - St Michael's Catholic Cemetery, Happy Valley

Filling up the terraces on the west side of the dip that forms the Happy Valley racecourse, the cemeteries along here are some of the more historical areas of the territory - at least in terms of its colonial history. So much so that Patrica Lim recently spent a rather large amount of time and effort documenting the graves for her most recent book "Forgotten Souls". Actually the Catholic area of the cemetery is just one of several (don't forget about the Muslim one just next door to the north) but is perhaps one of the most impressive due to its sometimes huge elaborate grave stones and mausoleum entrances. If you are familiar with your HK history then wandering around the graves here will reveal a whole host of well-known names.

In Noble House we get to see it when the Chen's are burying their recently murdered son John.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Tin Hau Temple, Repulse Bay

One of the main tourist sites (other than the beach itself of course) at Repulse Bay is the colourful waterside temple with its large Tin Hau statue looking out across the sea. We've seen the place before on this blog on multiple occasions now. In Noble House it's where Dunross goes to meet Four Finger Wu to discuss their shady dealings.

I've yet to visit (although have been to the beach) and from photos it looks almost like a shrunken down version of Tiger Balm Gardens with some kitsch plasterwork and tiling going on, still, I shall reserve judgement until I have seen the place first hand. Here are the grabs.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Exchange Square, Central

The scene that involves the short-selling of Noble House shares was filmed at the real HK Stock Exchange. We'll see some screencaps for that in a later post but in the meantime here is Exchange Square where it was (still is?) located. The sculpture that occupies the centre of the plaza is by Henry Moore and is called Oval with Points.

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Shek Kip Mei Estate, Sham Shui Po

Pretty much done the screen shots for Affair in T'sien Cha now, a couple of street shots left which I may put up on my help page for those interested in helping out, but before then here is a small shot taken in what I can only assume is the H Blocks of Shek Kip Mei estate. I'm fairly sure that Kwun Tong Resettlement Estate also had these particular H-shaped blocks (as well as Wong Tai Sin and Cheung Sha Wan estates), but from a practicalities of filming point of view I feel this was taken in SKM. Please feel free to correct me, the good things about these posts is that they aren't set in stone and it wouldn't be the first time I have had to change what I previously thought was a spot on location...

What I am not sure about is which street this is, although to be fair in the estate there is only really two that had this aspect: Berwick Street and Woh Chai Street. I can't decide which it is until I get more info. Anyway, until then, corrections welcome :-)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - KCR Railway Track, Tai Po

A few shots here taken from earlier in the show when the spies are back in Tai Po, this time walking along the track between Tai Po Market and Tai Po Kau. How can I be so specific? Well, the background here is very familiar to me because I saw it virtually every day for six years.

The above shot has an obvious cameraman's shadow getting caught in frame - however, I am more intrigued by the small huts on the right because these look very similar to the buildings in the CARE Village off Tai Po Road opposite Wong Yi Au. Could they be the same? It's certainly possible because this village was established in the 1960's to rehouse local fisherman who had their livelihoods (and homes) destroyed by a typhoon that blew through the area.

Anyway, moving to the next shot below and we can see, on the left, the Yim Tin Tsai peninsular (just off screen to the left would be Sam Mun Tsai fishing village if that makes it any clearer), behind that bit of land is the island known in English as 'Horse Shit Island' (Ma Shi Tsau). On the right, in the distance, we can just see the lower part of what becomes Ma On Shan.

Finally in our last shot we can see (background right) the distinctive ridgeline of Pat Sin Leng, with its wispy cloud covering - believe it or not these clouds are a common sight, especially during the Spring time (which gives some support to Gweilo888's opinion that this pilot episode was shot during the spring of 1964.

On the left of Robert Culp is the familiar (to me, at least) sight of Yuen Chau Tsai - the small former island (now reclaimed and joined onto the mainland like the many other former 'islands') that houses Island House. If we momentarily put ourselves in Culp's shoes he was most likely staring down the former Tai Po Road (now called Kwong Fuk Road at this section) and the rather large stilted shanty town that was situated on either side of the road's sandy causeway. Note that all of the sea (Tolo Harbour in fact) between Culp and the jetty in the background has been completely reclaimed and now houses a highway.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Aberdeen Harbour

An interesting view of Aberdeen looking easterly from the western end of Ap Lei Chau. This view is quite unique because not long after this was filmed, HongKong Electric (now one of Li Ka-shing's cash cows) built a huge great power station around here (you can see it in the background of the lower shot from this Enter the Dragon post).

A few things can be seen here including the Aberdeen Seminary (on the small hillock ion the background), the floating restaurants (including the Tai Pak, furthest away), and the old Aberdeen Police Station (on the left hillside).

With regards to the floating restaurants, this was their original location when the small ferry shuttle was located on the waterfront in front of the old town. The old pier location was reclaimed many years ago (and is now a bus terminus), the restaurants were moved further to the east - next to the hillock with the seminary - and the ferry piers are now on the other side of that same hillock just off Shum Wan Road.

The following shot - well I can't place it exactly but it looks as though they were probably taken along the Hong Kong Island side of the harbour (as opposed to Ap Lei Chau side).

This shot below shows the very distinctive Chinese cemetery on the hillside, so looking sort of NE from the middle of the harbour and our last shot should be familiar to anyone who has watched any film featuring Aberdeen harbour over the past 60 years or so - the sampan ride.

Friday, 6 September 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Lok Ma Chau Lookout

A quick scene that AP tells me involves Culp supposedly walking to Aberdeen (coming up in the next post) but was in fact filmed almost as far away as you could possibly get from Aberdeen - right next to the border (sorry, I should use the more politically correct description of 'boundary') with Mainland China at Lok Ma Chau.

Only until relatively recently, Lok Ma Chau was a popular stop on the local and overseas tourist itinerary because the 'lookout' provided and uncluttered view across the border to the strange and mystifying land that lay beyond. These days it is one of the last bastions of HK wilderness. You can still go to the lookout but instead of seeing tranquil rice paddies being tended to by hardy farmers and their water buffalo, all you can see is the stark contrast between HK's undeveloped 'Closed Border Area' and the massive development that has sprung up in Shenzhen across the way. The actual border point now is - along with Lo Wu - a very busy place indeed with road and rail transport across into the Mainland. The east rail extension to Lok Ma Chau opened quite soon after I arrived in HK.

Anyway, here are some views across the (still to be found) wetlands,  followed by a nice panorama of the two shots combined.

And in case you are wondering where the actual 'lookout' is,the pavilion in the grab below shows you where all those tourists stood to take their cross-border holiday snaps. It's been upgraded now with a surrounding platform and one of those metal relief views showing what you are looking at, but I think it's still the same structure today.