Sunday, June 29, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Wanchai Harbourfront, Hong Kong

The whole series of Yellowthread Street uses some great aerial shots of the territory and the next one is from Episode 3: Key Witness. We have a nice sweeping view that starts from the Wanchai Interchange (the big roundabout below) and then pans west towards Central.

The flyover that crosses the main road (Gloucester Rd) towards the sports ground is Marsh Road. Just below we can see the black side of the Sun Hung Kai Centre.

The pool belongs to the Harbour Road Sports Centre and is called Wanchai Training Pool. All seem to have so far survived despite all the current reclamation going on.

This is the interesting bit (for me, at least) because it shows the area that is now occupied by Central Plaza (opened 1992) and where then small semi circle protrudes into the harbour is now occupied by the Convention and Exhibition Centre - the venue where the handover ceremony was held in 1997. The white building behind the Sun Hung Kai Centre is the China Resources Building and in front of that is a bare site which is where Central Plaza now stands. Despite all this redevelopment, I think most of these buildings still stand including the curved structure (next to the semi-circle) which is the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel.

The final few pictures looking over towards a rather misty looking Central, with HMS Tamar obvious (the square piece of water) at the harbourfront and for the more eagle-eyed of you should see the white with black stripes side of the Bank Of America tower and next to it the golden Far East Finance Centre.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Dumbarton Road, Kowloon Tong

Back to Episode 3 - Key Witness - for this post. A businessman has tried to fake his own death because the Triads are after him and Marenta (Robert Taylor) goes to his home to speak with his wife about his whereabouts.

The place he goes to is just off La Salle Road in Kowloon Tong as we can see from the following screencaps. Check out the plane doing its turn into Kai Tak in the top picture.

Sadly, he doesn't go into the rather elegant looking place on the opposite side of the road, but instead pulls in to Dumbarton Road (the west part on the west side of Kowloon Tsai Park). The plot he goes into has actually been completely rebuilt - a very common occurrence in Kowloon Tong because the plots of land are relatively huge - so we will have to make do with a picture of a much more modern building that now sits there called La Salle Court (the shiny one left of centre)

Far more interesting, in my humble opinion, is the building we see in the top two frames. By some sort of bizarre luck, this place is still around and so are its nice elegant iron gates.

It's called Hyde Park Villa and is probably an original building the 1950's (occupation date says 1957). It's very similar to the style of property we also can see over at nearby Yau Yat Tsuen which was developed in the 1950's. Very stylish I think, and nice to see that it hasn't changed for the past 25 years or so.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Former British Military Hospital, King's Park

This next one has had me literally chasing my tail because it has been really difficult to track down. The location is quite important because it occupies a large section of Episode 4 called Middleman which concerns a criminal taking Pak (Tzi Ma) hostage in a local hospital.

The film makers made quite a bit of effort to disguise the real location, more than is warranted, I feel, but here are a few examples...

A few red herrings here because, yes, there is a place called Central Hospital, but it's not this place. Secondly, there is the Chinese name 中央醫院 (Jung Yeung Yi Yuen), which is the original name of a venue now known as the Sai Ying Pun Jockey Club Polyclinic, and no, it's not that place either.

Then there is another red herring in the form of an address we see at one point (when Marenta - played by Robert Taylor - heads off to do some investigation on the 'Middle Man'). We see a hospital invoice. Check out the address below. It says 222 Waterloo Road.

This, coincidentally (or not, as I suspect is the case) is the actual address of the Baptist Hospital in Kowloon Tong. Hmmm.

So, why these guys went to so much trouble I don't know. But either way, it has had me scratching my head until I was doing some research on another matter (as is usually the case) and I discovered some great pictures on FLICKR of the old British Military Hospital on Wylie Road in King's Park.

Here's the ink:

A wiki entry can also be found here:,_Hong_Kong#King.27s_Park

Anyway, suffice to say, the other major reason I had so much difficulty is because this building has been replaced by a huge apartment complex called Parc Palais. You can read a bit more on wiki but the upshot is that the hospital was decommissioned on 30th June 1996 and eventually demolished in the early 00's before Parc Palais was built (opened in 2004).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Here's another TST location from episode 2 - The Lost Man. It features Pak (played by Tzi Ma) following a fellow Vietnamese Boat refugee because he thinks she has something to do with the disappearance of a bar girl. His mark works in a place called The Players Club and Topless Bar. It turns out it was located along Peking Road. You can just see it on the right in this photo on FLICKR.

This scene follows the Bottoms Up club scene I covered a few posts ago, so it is quite feasible that the production crew got all these bar shots out of the way in one fell swoop rather than hopping from one side of the harbour to the other.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Contagion - Matt Damon (2011) - Tsing Ma Bridge, Tsing Yi

An easy spot this one and probably familiar to anyone who has visited Hong Kong since 1998 will have passed over this bridge at least once.

Judging by the angle, it seems as though the filmmakers pulled in some favours and actually managed to get the camera up onto one of the uprights of the bridge.

Here is a similar angle I took from the Tsing Yi Nature Trail a couple of years ago. It's pretty high from up there but I think confirms that the filmmakers did in fact make it up the actual bridge (or perhaps used a drone). Anyway, an impressive view from either angle.

Contagion - Matt Damon (2011) - Tung Choi Street, Kowloon

One of the more easily identifiable street scenes as the kidnappers are driving Dr Orantes around in their black van. In this case we are travelling south along Tung Choi Street in Mongkok - perhaps more commonly known to visitors as "Ladies Market". If you look closely at the floor in the screencaps you can see the yellow line markings that demarcate each of the stall holder's selling spots.

The street looks so deserted because this scene was filmed before all the stalls had been erected. The large brown and yellow sign with the words: 沙嗲王 on it (see top left of the last screencap) is at the junction with Shantung Street and is a branch of the local food chain Satay King. When I first wrote this post I had yet to visit for food, but I did try once and discovered to my great disappointment that not a single bit of satay chicken skewer was available - its main fare seems to be spicy soup. You have been warned.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Contagion - Matt Damon (2011) - Chinese Permanent Cemetery, Tsuen Wan

This is the location of the handover of Dr Orantes by her Chinese kidnappers - although an obvious case of Stockholm Syndrome seems to have taken a hold of her. The exchange takes place above Tsuen Wan in the Chinese Permanent Cemetery. As the camera sweeps around the scene we get a good glimpse of some of the buildings in Tsuen Wan, including an opening shot of Riviera Gardens.

Riviera Gardens

The van drives south towards the meeting point, the southern hill of Tsing Yi in the background.

Dr Orantes with the cemetery slopes behind her. The building far left is the Sunley Centre

This bottom screencap is a nice wide view of the cemetery area showing Nina Tower back left. Almost at its base is the low rise white ship-like shape of the cemetery columbarium. The blue glassed building is the previously mentioned Sunley Centre and you can just see the red colour of the Shun Hing Centre on the far right. The mountain in the background is the slopes of Tai Mo Shan - HK's highest peak.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Contagion - Matt Damon (2011) - Victoria Park Road Lay-by, Hong Kong

Just off the main road in Causeway Bay, where Gloucester Road joins with Victoria Park Road, is a small lay-by. This is the location of the kidnapping. The car and van cruise in, pull up, and poor Dr Orantes (Marion Cotillard) is carted off against her will. The big cream building in the background is the very recognisable Excelsior Hotel.

As you can see by the Streetview capture below, the place hasn't changed. Of course this is not surprising considering it has only been a few years since filming was done, but you never know - this is Hong Kong after all and there are rumours in the air that the Excelsior is soon to be sold and redeveloped.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Contagion - Matt Damon (2011) - Shek O Bus Terminus, Hong Kong

Although supposedly just over the border in Guangdong province, this scene was actually filmed about as far away from the border as you can actually get within Hong Kong - way down in deepest darkest Shek O.

Keep an eye out for the building on the far right of the second screencap. Why? Because it's the locally famous Shek O Bus Terminus building. The filmmakers did a good job at hiding its identity by sprawling a blue banner (replete with simplified Chinese writing - as you would expect to see over the border) but for anyone who has been there, I am sure this locale would be instantly recognisable.

Anyway, this is the scene when the wife/girlfriend (played by Josie Ho) of the dead waiter is on a bus headed back to the motherland with her recently deceased other-half's ashes. I can't see the trees that are centre screen on the Streetview (see below) shot so will assume they were put there to hide something from the camera. Believe it or not, the bus terminus building was built in the 1950's and even has a Grade 2 listing - not that that offers any protection from it being bulldozed...

Contagion - Matt Damon (2011) - Star Ferry, Hung Hom

Here's another film that has been on the back burner for a while but is worth looking at despite being fairly recent (filmed 2010, released 2011). It has a few locations that we haven't come across before, but here is an easy one for starters. It's the Star Ferry as we follow the ill guy heading home from work.

This doesn't appear to be our usual Star Ferry haunt though (i.e. TST or Central) and I am going to go out on a limb and take a guess, so feel free to bombard me with abuse for getting it wrong. I think this is the Hung Hom ferry pier, my reasoning is that the skyline opposite doesn't really match the view from any of the other piers (I looked at North Point, Kowloon City, TST - did I miss any?) and also you may or may not have noticed the circular windows next to the ferry guy. It looks as though Hung Hom is the only one that has these windows.

You are looking at history now (if I'm right) because the Star Ferry services from Hung Hom to Central/Wanchai ended in 2011 - probably not long after these scenes were filmed. Will they ever come back? I don't think so.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Man with the Golden Gun - Roger Moore (1974) - Chaplin in the casino

In another of my Chaplin spotting posts, here he is playing a gambler in the scene where the golden bullet handover takes place in the Macau Casino. Chaplin is the guy with the goatee (he still has the goatee even after all these years) sitting next to Maud Adams (to her left with the brown shirt).

Monday, June 9, 2014

You Only Live Twice - Sean Connery (1967) - Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Not much of a challenge here I guess, but sometimes I need a bit of a break from all this location hunting and like to throw stuff in just for posterity. Here is the tracking shot of the harbour as Bond's enemies watch his body being cast into the sea from a British Naval boat.

Looking at the top pictures, even taking the camera lens into account, the harbour looks really wide compared to today's small skinny lowfat version...

...on a side note, I will say that the underwater scenes where Bond is picked up by frogmen and carried back to the submarine were almost definitely not filmed in Hong Kong harbour. The water is so clear in that scene it can only have been filmed in a tank (probably the famous one at Pinewood?).