Friday, 22 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Lockhart Road, Wanchai

Strictly speaking we are talking about the block on the northern corner of where Lockhart joins with Luard Road. Again, I have Thomas Ngan to thank for this rather excellent bit of spotting.

The scene involves Cosby and Culp moving across the rooftop of a block of shophouses in Danny was a Million Laughs. Not surprisingly, the block has largely been redeveloped but afew of the columned shophouses can still be found. The closest I can do is provide you with a shot of the same corner from street level as well as a quick piccie of the remaining shophouses I mentioned earlier.

Here are the screen caps.

Believe it or not there is still plenty of illegal rooftop occupation going on in HK, largely thanks to its ridiculously expensive real estate. But anyway, this particular set of illegal occupancies have long gone. At the far left is the gap in the buildings that forms Jaffe Road. I suspect the block was redeveloped piecemeal because the various current building dates are not uniform (plus the fact that a small portion of the old block still exists). For example, the Yen Men Building at 98-108 Jaffe Road was built in 1984, the corner block (89 Lockhart Rd) was replaced by the Wanchai Central Building in 1997, Beverly House (93 - 107 Lockhart Rd) was built in 1984, Hing Bong Mansion (107-11 Lockhart Rd) was built in 1985, One Capital Place (corner of Luard and Jaffe) was built in 1991. Such is the way of private development in HK. If it was the Govt doing this they would just get the U.R.A to completely eradicate the whole block and several streets (in the same way a nuclear bomb would) and then build a high end mall.

Anyhow, Thomas also found a comparative street level picture (courtesy of Doug) that shows us what was written on those signs.

So we know that the corner building that we can see in the bottom of the top screen grab housed the "Mini Nightclub" (yes, either a night club for cars or midgets, can't decide which one yet), the partially obscured "Canadian Club" sign can also be seen a can the "United Night Club" which was almost completely obscured in our I Spy screen grab and was making me guess Red or Ted when I should have been thinking in terms of longer words.

Anyway, here is the modern Streetview, looking at the same corner that housed the "Mini Nightclub" all those years ago.

And finally, here is what I believe to be the sole remnant of that old block - situated at 109 - 111 Lockhart Road.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1987) - Mercury Street, North Point

Here is one I forgot about earlier, it was a location I had given up as impossible to find until gweilo8888 did his own bit of detective work and came up with a convincing location (well, I'm convinced enough to post it). Here is the screen capture from the film and occurs when JCVD is being chased by the two American cops.

Here is a paste of the comment made by gweilo8888 that explains his investigation.

OK, this one I am not so sure of -- but I'm 90% sure I have it.

I found a higher-res version of your screenshot, and the English on the sign near the center is "Po Kin Hong".

From the HK Companies Registry, I found the following Chinese company name, registered in 1986, and matching the characters on the sign: "保健行".

A search of Google Books for those characters, plus the characters for Hong Kong, turns up the following in a book: "保健行香港北角水星街 22 號, 5-700073". Translation: "Po Kin Hong No. 22 Mercury Street North Point Hong Kong, 5-700073".

This is where my guess gets a bit flimsy: the book is dated 1984, two years after the company registration. Perhaps the company existed under another name prior to its registration -- it had already changed from "Din Flower Ltd." to "Po Kin Hong Ltd" earlier that year.

What makes me think I may be right, though, is that the address above is on an uphill street adjoining King's Road, and the latter has tram tracks on it -- matching the uphill slope in the screenshot, and your note that a tram passes by in the background.

If this *is* the right address, Po Kin Hong's building has been demolished, and the current building dates to 2001 according to Centamap.

Vincent Mansion, the next building back, dates to 1982 and the small first-floor balcony / fence seem to match, although the fence color has changed.

Further back, Hoi Sun Building again postdates the film, and the remaining two buildings on the block while old enough are too far back to see in the screenshot.

So... that's the theory. I think it's Mercury Street, just above the small dogleg. But I can't definitively prove it.
Anyway, I'm happy to stick this one up, especially considering that the film was shot in 1986 - not long after the company Gweilo8888 was talking about was first registered. If anyone feel differently then please feel free to add a comment. In the meantime here is a Streetview of Mercury St as it looks today (sadly no longer a street market).

Monday, 18 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Square Street, Sheung Wan

Moving on to our next episode, this one is called Dragon's Teeth, and we get another angle of a street not normally seen. The street in question is in fact Square Street, just off Ladder Street and Hollywood Road. Fans of The World of Suzie Wong may recognise the name because Square Street was featured in that film courtesy of the Nam Kok Hotel location just a few yards around the corner.

Anyway, the scene starts with our heroes descended the famed steps of Ladder Street (or it could be Tank Lane, at this point I am not sure) before they turn to their left. Just as they do we get a blurry view of the street sign and it is almost unreadable. However, location confirmation can be made courtesy of the tong lau at the end of the street, which thanks to some persons careful maintenance and TLC, still exists and looks to have a very careful owner.

Here they are at the bottom of the steps just about to turn left. The street sign with a blurry "Square St" barely visible.

Check out the building at the end of the street in the distance. We get a few more glimpses of it in the following picture.

I wonder how wide the road was back in 1965, it may just be the camera angle but it looked much wider back then - perhaps because the buildings sat further away from the street? Either way, there has been a lot of development and the nice empty space we can see far right has been filled in - as has the empty space behind our far off building. Here is the modern Streetview.

Zoom in and you can see our distant building hasn't changed much, but in case you can't see that far here is a closeup. As you can see the current owner/landlord has taken good care of the place and it looks really nice, so I take my hat off to whoever it is for not knocking it down and building a highrise.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Embankment Road, Kowloon

Despite the fact that there is obviously a school in view here I was having a really hard time trying to read the name, however, as it turns out I was able to match the angle of the road with Lion Rock in the distance and came up with some possibilities and so ended up matching it that way instead (talk about making life difficult for myself). Anyway, it turns out the school is the St Rose of Lima's school on Embankment Road.

The muddy verge on the left looked a bit like the railway track to me and low-and-behold, it was the embankment that holds the KCR track through this part of town. Of course, the track has undergone many changes since 1965 but even from Streetview you can get the same kind of feeling for the place.

The apartments that the guys run into are still around and they are called Duke Garden - built circa 1964, so they were pretty much brand spanking new when Cosby and Culp ran through the gate.

The current Streetview gives a good view of the area - and it hasn't changed that much really, but unfortunately the school appears to have been under scaffolding when the Google car was doing its rounds.

Okay, so the embankment is now covered in walkways because the railtrack - once a common thoroughfare for people walking places - is now off limits courtesy of modern high speed trains and high voltage powerlines. But thanks to Kowloon Tong's historical low-rise development, we can still see Lion Rock in the distance (although these days the smog does an equally good job at obscuring it). Duke Garden still stands in place but the school itself - under scaffold in Streetview - has since been completely rebuilt and no longer looks the same. If you are a bit unsure as to where this place is, then directly the other side of the railtrack is the Yuen Po Bird Garden (shockingly awful place if you ask me full of illegally smuggled birds) and the Flower Market.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Shek Kip Mei Estate, Kowloon

I wasn't too sure about this one at first given the number of H-block estates Hong Kong has had over the years (I know of at least two others but there was probably more). And it wasn't helped by the fact that the ultimate clincher for the identification was courtesy of the sole remaining block left over - but the problem was that at some point over the years, even that place had a bit of a facelift.

The snap at the top shows what Mei Ho House (formerly Block H, renamed to Block 41) on the left in green. Note that the design is the same as the other blocks we can see (and yes, that is Lion Rock you can see in the gap at the top). However, more recent pictures of Mei Ho House, as it is now known, show it with some stairwells built onto the front and much of the open walkways covered up. When this happened I am not sure, perhaps sometime in the late 70's or 80's? But why this one and not other I am a bit confused, so if anyone can enlighten me please leave a comment.

Anyway, here we are in 1965 and the car at the bottom is driving along the Kowloon end of Tai Po Road. As mentioned, all those blocks save for Mei Ho House have been ripped down and replaced or their bare former sites are in the process of redevelopment.

Incidentally, the sloped road you can see in the top photo is still around and the two gaps underneath it look to have been made into storage space (perhaps?), you can see them covered with blue doors in the Streetview shot below, along with the slightly modified facade of Mei Ho House. For those who didn't know, Mei Ho House has recently been graded, and turned into a museum/hostel. I live very close so may go and get some snaps very soon.

(Note: Wiki has evidence of Mei Ho House's original facade here:

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Lung Yu Restaurant, Jordan Road

Here's a place I had no idea existed, but after seeing the screen grabs I am quite taken with the exterior decoration. I can't think of anywhere in HK that is quite as flamboyant as this was with the exception of the Jumbo Kingdom in Aberdeen.

The railings in the middle of the road initially made me think of Nathan Road, but it turns out that this restaurant was in fact on the corner of Jordan Road and Battery Street. The Chinese name of the place was 龍如大酒家 (Lung Yu Restaurant). I'd love to hear comments from anyone that remembers this place. Anyway, it turns out that the building itself is still standing, it's called Booman House and looks pretty much the same minus the various decorations.

It looks as though the block to the left (the empty one we see as the car passes in the screen grabs) was preparing for the construction of #39 - 41 Jordan Road which were completed in 1966 - a year or so after this series was made.

Monday, 11 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Yau Ma Tei Police Station, Yau Ma Tei

A new week and a new episode of I Spy, this time we are viewing stills from the episode Danny Was a Million Laughs. We start by looking at a location that has been seen on many films previously, just not necessarily on this blog (yet). It's a panning shot that shows much of the surrounding area when it was in a process of regeneration and the modern comparison shots are quite enlightening. Anyway, here are the grabs.

The police station has changed little of course. It was built in 1922 and the facade you see there is the same one we can still see currently albeit now sporting the standard grey/blue police colours. But look at the big open space on the opposite side of Canton Road. It looks to be a recent demolition to make way for the Jockey Club clinic which still stands there. Pretty much all of the older buildings you see above have now been demolished and you actually get a nice view from the opposite angle in 1973's Enter the Dragon. The last shots shows a partial view down Public Square Street showing a hill in the background that was once part of King's Park.

Here are the modern views from Streetview.

As you can see the clinic buildings now occupy the whole block opposite and the hill I previously mentioned is still there, but just now obscured by the usual high rises.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Majestic Theatre, Yau Ma Tei

Another nailed location thanks to Thomas and his eagle-eyes. In this case it is the Majestic Theatre on the corner of Nathan Road and Saigon Street in Yau Ma Tei.

As usual there is a trove of information provided by HK's premier cinema expert - Raymond Lo - on the Cinema Treasure website:

The Majestic Theatre (called 'theatre' but was a cinema ) closed in 1988 and was replaced by the Majestic Cinema which eventually closed in the late 90's. What we see in the screen shot below is of course the version that was there in 1965 i.e. the Majestic Theatre.

You can just make out the 'Majestic' lettering at the top right of the building. The smaller road at the side is the eastern part of Saigon Street (south is to the top in this screen shot). Interesting to note are the buildings on the right side of the picture. The low rise building - whose rooftop we can see - was replaced by the current Wing On department store, but the building just to the top (which is physically on the opposite side of Saigon Street) is actually still around. Here are some Streetview grabs to add a bit more context.

So this first picture above shows the site of where the Theatre and the Cinema stood - yes, that is the Novotel that now stands there. Saigon Street, or at least the eastern part of it can be seen just to the right of the hotel. The building to the right of the hotel and street is called the Kim Tak Building and it was completed in 1965 - so I guess that is the building we can see covered in scaffolding on the left of the 1965 screen grab.

Moving across Nathan Road to the opposite - pedestrianised - section of Saigon Street and you can see the building in front with Chow Tai Fook on the ground floor. It's called Wong House and was built circa 1959 and is the building we catch a brief snippet of in the top right of the 1965 screen grabs. On the far right of our modern view though you can see a small portion of the Wing On store that stands on the site of the former low rise building. Coincidentally, the Wing On store is also low-rise in this section and is probably the same height as the building we can see the roof of in the screen shot.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Humphreys Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui

Another great bit of spotting courtesy of Thomas who managed to nail this rather obscure street shot via the building in the far background. Further looking revealed that the Sitlani Tailors prominently featured here used to be (until the early 2000's) situated at 10 Humphreys Avenue. I think they have moved around the corner to Cameron Road since then.

Not quite the same angle but almost, courtesy of Streetview of course.

According to Centamap, the buildings on the right are pretty much the same ones that were there in 1965, but there are only one or two on the opposite side of the road and if you look carefully you may be able to match one or two portions (such as the one directly above the parking meter in the screen grab).

The building at the end of the road certainly is the same one (which is how Thomas was able to match it) - it's called the James Lee Building and was built/opened in 1961 - just a few years before this show was filmed.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, Aberdeen

A quickie here - just a brief glimpse of the Tai Pak all lit up at night. A similar shot was used in the neon montage I posted about several weeks ago here. Anyway, this was in 1965 and a while before the Tai Pak was merged into the now so-called "Jumbo Kingdom". Anyway, the restaurant still has the basic shape and decor but I'm not sure the place we know today is the same place we can see on film given some of the comments posted on my other blog a while ago (by family of the owners).

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Stitched Panoramas from The Peninsula Rooftop

These were too good to leave out and once again have AP to thank for the time he has taken to obtain these screen grabs and then stitching them all together to make some very clever wide angle views. Actually, I have a bunch I haven't used yet and am saving them for later but until then here is the vista across Victoria Harbour and surrounding parts of TST from the original rooftop of 'The Pen'.

Monday, 4 November 2013

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Kowloon Panorama

Here is a great panoramic view of the Kowloon peninsular (mainly TST) courtesy of AP who stitched together several panning shots from the episode So Long, Patrick Henry. Lots to be seen so I won't bother trying to list it all, however, I do still like seeing any shot of the old KCR Terminus. Sometimes I wish HK was still low rise like this, but I guess that's progress for you...

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon City

Certainly a welcome blast from the past. I always enjoy looking at old pictures of Kai Tak airport because, despite the fact that I flew in and out of it on several occasions, I have only very vague memories of the place. Anyway, this sequence of screen grabs starts off looking over at Prince Edward Road East and the easternmost buildings in Kowloon City before the car we are following pulls into the car park and then stops in front of the terminal building.

Note the circular booth and the flyover the car passes under, and then take a look at this Govt Archive photo taken a round the same time and it will give you a bit of context as to where it all was.

As I mentioned my memories, despite being fairly recent ('95, '96 and early '98) are sketchy, I just remember the square columns inside the terminal building (you'll see them in a minute), the escalator going up to the viewing cafe place and the bank of telephones at the top and of course the long straight area where all the gates were. I even remember the name of a bloke I started talking to there once (where are you now Gable Merrick?) and even almost missing my plane once because the gate only opened about 5 minutes before departure and I was too busy wandering around with my pals taking snaps (now lost, I suspect). It's very disconcerting when you are running along a very busy terminal building and someone comes up to you and uses your own name to tell you to hurry (yes, I was the last person to board...).

Anyway, here are a few more pictures of Robert Culp inside the building.