Saturday, March 29, 2014

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Hankow Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Here's an interesting shot from No Exchange on Damaged Merchandise. It shows the boys crossing the road to a newspaper vendor with a cinema in the background.

Look carefully in the background and you can just make out the film being shown at the cinema is John Goldfarb, Please Come Home. I don't know when the film was released in Hong Kong but it certainly was first released in the US in 1965, which tallies with what we know about when this show was made. But which cinema was it?

In this case the blue stripes on the building provide a bit of a clue to its identity. It was a cinema called the Sands Theatre in TST, specifically on the NW corner of the junction between Peking Road and Hankow Road. The boys have just crossed the southern part of Hankow Road and Peking Road is the one going across screen behind them on the upper shot.

According to Cinema Treasures, the Sands first opened in 1963, so it was a fairly new venue at this time, and closed in 1980. The theatre was demolished and a new building put up on the site which during my first few years in HK contained an HMV. The HMV has since moved on (twice!!) and the shop now has a large Adidas store there. See below. The angle on Streetview is a fairly good match to the original.

AP provided a nicely put together stitch of the two shots to give us a wide angle view of the same scene.

There's also a nice picture of it on FLICKR but looking down the road from Peking Road here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Sai Street, Sheung Wan

It all kicks off between the cops and the gangsters, in Power Play, when Bruce and co are sitting down for noodles and minding their own business. Up comes some bully boys and all hell breaks loose. The location was the rather hidden away dead-end of Sai Street - where it intersects with Tai Ping Shan Street.

Awesome hair Bruce! Anyway, here is how it looks today, sadly no noodles in sight.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Mongkok Police Station, Kowloon

I've been putting it off for a while and got sidetracked over the last 6 months or so with the abundance of locations to be found in the I Spy series, but now that is slowly drawing to a close I can start doing some of this UK series from 1990.

The series was a bit hit and miss, and is no better second time round for me. It's nice to see the locations and at least try and spot some, as well as some early turns by people such as Bruce Payne and Tzi Ma. But on the whole the program was let down by a slightly plodding pace and wooden acting from some (though not the two mentioned). The thing didn't really pick up pace until later in the series, but by then I think people had lost interest and a planned second series, aimed to be more centered around HK-style action, never got off the ground.

Anyway, it has a great opening theme and lots of familiar faces from the local film and TV industry as well as some interesting locations, starting off with this one - Mongkok Police Station. This is a grab from the very first episode called Power Play.

Mongkok station is indeed a working station and this block seen on TV is the last remaining one. There was at least one more similar columned block that fronted Nathan Road (you can just see a tiny bit of it here in the I Spy series) that was demolished to make way for the MTR construction. The shot above was taken through the main gate on Playing Field Road (yes, that is a real street name!).

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Kowloon Star Ferry Pier

Another no-brainer (from a location hunting point of view) but interesting nonetheless as we get to see a shot inside the pier as well. It should be familiar to pretty much anyone who has traveled on it at any point over the last 50 years. The current structure has been there since 1957. I still love the place and get on it as much as I can despite the fact that the Govt seems so intent on destroying it bit by bit.

Anyway, here is the outside as seen on the episode: No Exchange on Damaged Merchandise.

 Followed by a nice shot of the guys walking down those famous gangplanks - looking down, as we all do, to avoid tripping on those pesky horizontal wooden slats. And then of course, boarding the boat. It looks to me as though the chaps opted for the more expensive upper class/top deck ride. Now that really is pushing the boat out, don't you think (geddit?)

Finally, we shall round it off with some shots inside the ferry. I don't know which boat this is (the screen grab is too grainy to make out the name) but some of the current fleet were built in the 1950's and 60's, so there is a good chance that this one is still running to and fro on a daily basis. Actually, the more eagle-eyed of you may have already noticed from the first sequence of shots of the pier and boat, that the last shot is of a different boat (look carefully and you can see the name is different and it has gained a couple of life rings by the gate). The shot occurs slightly later in the sequence so it seems that the last image was from different take.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Canton Road, Yau Ma Tei

To be more precise the part where Canton Road intersects with Public Square Street. The giveaway in this scene is the road sign that can be seen on the second screen grab couple with the angle with which the road leads away in the background...oh yeah, and the familiar looking brick work where the road sign is fixed.

There's only one place where the road continues at an angle and it just so happens to be the same place where the Yau Ma Tei Police Station is - that is the building on which the sign is mounted.

Sadly the old curved building in the background is no more. It was part of the so-called 'six street slum' that was on the site before it was all torn down in the 1980s (I think?) and replaced by Prosperous Garden. In the process of the redevelopment a couple of streets disappeared, one of them - Lei Tat Street - the location of one of Yip Man's Wing Chun schools.

In the meantime I can confirm that the Police Station (which has been used many, many times in both local and foreign movie productions) still has the road sign - albeit a modern version - displayed on the same part of its facade. Below is the best angle we can get from Streetview.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Central, Hong Kong

A nice view looking over Central from the mid-levels, from The Loser episode. A view which was still possible without the need for a high rise to see over all the other buildings. These days it would probably be difficult to find a spot with a clear view. The interesting thing to note here is that Central was still very much low-rise in 1965,and indeed it would be several years before HK's first skyscraper - the Connaught Centre(now Jardine House) would be built.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Queens Road Central, Sheung Wan

Some nice glimpses - from the The Loser episode - of Queens Road Central as the duo are followed up by some dudes in a car. This particular stretch contained the popular Central Theatre (中央戲院) which we can see on the left hand side in the top screen grab and then the guys turn up the alleyway at the side.

Here is a modern comparison courtesy of Streetview. In case you are wondering the address of this place is 270 - 276 Queen's Road Central.

The cinema has since been demolished and replaced by a building called Central Mansion. Many former buildings endure in name if not physically in HK - it might be a willful act of remembrance on the developer's part, but I suspect it is more of an act of convenience and expediency. Anyway, the upshot is a bunch of new buildings in HK with names that remember what use to be on the site. I digress...

The bottom two shots show us that inside the lobby of the theatre was the "Central Soda Fountain" or 中央冰室 (Jung Ying Bing Sat). A "bing sat" is really a type of HK style (retro) cafe that was popular before corporate America invaded :-) They've become a bit iconic, to the point where even aforementioned corporate America is getting in on the act.

Anyway, here is a picture to show what that part of the world looks like now. Behold, Central Mansion and the pace that was formerly occupied by Central Theatre and Soda Fountain (the alley is still there :-) )

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Pearl Island, Tuen Mun

Heading back to Noble House for a moment to the scene of the prisoner release at the HK/Chinese "border". The mid- to late-80's was probably not a great time to try filming at the real border in Lo Wu so the production team used another location as a stand-in. It just so happened to be the causeway leading over to Pearl Island off what is now known locally as the Gold Coast (named after the resort hotel and residential development built there) but is actually part of So Kwun Wat. The scenes were actually filmed on the island, looking back towards the mainland. The chimneys at the back were part of a desalination plant further down the coast, now gone.

Check out the ridiculously fake fortress on the opposite side

Note the second screen grab. The film makers had to hide the various developments on the mainland coastline and did this by superimposing a rather grim-looking fortress on top of it.

Unfortunately for us, because Pearl Island contains private residential developments, the Google Streetview car didn't make it to the island side of the road, all we have is this view below looking over towards the island from Tsing Lung Road. At the other end of the causeway is where the filming took place in reality. We just have to use our imaginations a bit :-)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Various Harbour views

As I start to wind down the I Spy posts I thought I should stick up these various harbour shots from the Chrysanthemum episode. Nothing to say here really other than they show us a time when HK was less high-rise and far more picturesque (in my opinion).

Monday, March 3, 2014

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Tsim Sha Tsui Public Pier, Kowloon

An easy one to spot from Chrysanthemum but revealing by the fact that we can see the place hasn't really changed at all that much in the last 50 years. Most of the change along this part of the coastline was further to the east where the New World Centre used to stand.