Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Macpherson Playground, Mongkok

The last scene from this episode shows a football game going on at a large outdoor (and typical HK-style concrete) pitch. The location is in Mongkok and it's Macpherson Playground. We've seen it before on this blog, back in 1975 for Bud Spencer's Flatfoot in Hong Kong, but from a different angle.

The block straight ahead has changed immensely because it now has two buildings affiliated to the CUHK (the Chinese University in Shatin) and at their base is an oddly placed temple - all of which front onto Shantung Street. The visible remnants from the modern Streetview appear to be the corner building (behind the person with the red T-shirt) and the taller building on the other end of the block.

Looking at Streetview you can just about see the two buildings I have just mentioned and sitting in between them are the two slim tall high rises that belong to CUHK. They look to have replaced the two low rise buildings that can be seen in the frame capture above.

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Stanley Bay, Hong Kong

The finale of the Fan Tan Man episode takes place on a yacht moored off the coast somewhere. I've put Stanley Bay in the title of this post but actually the location of the beach where the final gun battle takes place is actually St Stephen's Beach around where the concrete jetty stands. The beach is probably the least changed part of Stanley bay compared to the main area where the promenade now is and of course the view opposite (as seen in the top photo) has been heavily developed since the series was filmed.

The bottom picture shows the aforementioned Outdoor Activities Centre. It's had a paint job since then but other than that still looks the same. Here is the jetty.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Aberdeen Marina Club, Aberdeen

An easy one here in the form of the Aberdeen Marina Club located in the Sham Wan area of Aberdeen. This episode - Fan Tan Man - actually visits the place twice, the first trip we see the interior of what looks to be the 2nd floor restaurant (of course it's a lot different now) and one of the circular balconies that are a feature of that floor.

The second time we go back to the AMC, we get to see the tropical pool at the back of the complex. You can see the aforementioned circular balconies at the top of the first picture. I have actually been here quite a few times and can confirm it looks pretty much the same as it did back then. The pool hasn't changed other than having a small water slide added at the back. Look carefully on the lower picture and you can see part of the Jumbo restaurant in the background.

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Shatin Racecourse, Shatin

Well, we just saw a road leading up to the racecourse in Shatin, so now how about some footage taken inside the place itself. If anyone is interested in a crash course in Cantonese swear words, then this is the place to seek enlightenment.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Tolo Highway Elevated Road, Shatin

The Fan Tan Man (aka fat bald man) also gets followed to Shatin Racecourse and we catch a brief glimpse of the elevated road that leads down into the racecourse area. It's a nameless road but crosses the highway and is fed from either the northbound Tolo Highway or the Tsun King Road on the opposite side of the highway.

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Man Cheong Street, Kowloon

Once upon a time, before the west Kowloon reclamation came along and filled everything in, yau ma Tei Typhoons shelter came right up to the north side of the Ferry Point Estate - a cluster of eight 1960's built tenements that sit just north of the where the old Jordan Road vehicular ferry terminal was located.

The estate is still around and we get to see the northern side of the Man Wai Building when Marenta (Robert Taylor) and co drive their car along what was once the waterfront of Man Cheong Street.

The angle above has us looking west along Man Cheong Street towards Yau Ma Tei and the building behind the Rolls Royce is the Man Wai Building. Here is the current Streetview.

You will spot a few familiar sites if you compare the middle screen grab with the Streetview, but of course the most striking difference is that Man Cheong Street is no longer along the waterfront. In fact the old line of demarcation between land and sea looks to coincide with the double white line on the modern view. Everything to the right of that double white line used to be water, and now carries a huge road network, the Olympian City development, Olympic Rail station and much much more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Marriot Hotel, Queensway

Here's a surprise I wasn't expecting because I hadn't realised it had already been completed and opened for business. I'm talking about the J.W Marriot Hotel attached to Pacific Place. We get a brief glimpse of the entrance as the baldy bad guy heads off on one of his excursions. It's a brief glimpse but still recognisable today.

Unfortunately we can't get very close using Streetview so will have to settle with a long view taken from the public road outside. You can vaguely see that it looks the same although Marriot seems to have undergone a re-branding at some point and changed the style of their logo.

So, why was the Marriot featured in Yellowthread Street when other nearby hotels such as the Conrad and Shangri-La were still under construction. It appears that the Marriot was built in the very first construction phase of Pacific Place and so was ready by 1988 - a year or so before the series was made. The neighbouring hotels were part of a later phase completed in 1990. Also we have a scene filmed inside the hotel.

The distinctive metal pillars in the background can also be seen on this shot taken by a traveller and uploaded to the Tripadvisor website (link: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/ed/0d/ec/jw-marriott-hotel-hong.jpg)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bruce Lee & I - Betty Ting Pei (1976) - Ma Liu Shui, Shatin

Here's one that I suspected I knew where it was but had to play the patient waiting game of either someone confirming for me or finding a picture that provides corroboration for my assumptions.

The scene is when Betty and Bruce (played by Danny Lee) are walking along the KCR track and having a chat about life etc, and there is the distinctive shape of an old KCR railway tunnel. here's a reminder.

Currently there are only two remaining tunnels on the KCR that fit this profile, the first one is the original Beacon Hill tunnel, and the seocnd one is the original single track tunnel at Tai Po Kau. Both tunnels still exist, but only the latter is still in use as a rail tunnel (Beacon Hill Tunnel is now used to carry gas pipes and other conduits from the NT into Kowloon, and to accommodate a second track in Tai Po Kau, the KCR just drilled another tunnel next to the original) but the background we can see doesn't matches anything that can be seen at either tunnels' entrances.

So I pondered that there may have been another tunnel somewhere that fitted the profile. Only today I have had that confirmation courtesy of a photograph from the early 60's shared in FLICKR by our friend Doug. Here is the link: https://flic.kr/p/pjowTd

Look at the background in Doug's photo you can see the tunnel on the right hand side. How long the tunnel was I'm not sure but after a quick look on GoogleEarth it is quite obvious that then hillside in the background behind our two actors is the slope behind the modern day Shatin Hospital and A Kung Kok Shan Road.

Here is another picture of the tunnel courtesy of the CUHK website (it can be seen in the b&w picture at the top of this link: http://www.iso.cuhk.edu.hk/english/publications/newsletter/article.aspx?articleid=54997

The tunnel has been demolished of course, probably due to the lack of space to build a second tunnel for a second track, so they just removed the whole hillside with the tunnel to make the extra space.

Look carefully immediately behind the two actors and you can see what looks to be the start of the reclamation works that filled in the Shatin Sea to make way for Shatin New Town.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Harrison Ford (1984) - Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau

Okay, so here is one that I can take a bit more of the credit for finding and it's the location of the car chase that immediately follows Indiana Jones' escape from Club Obi Wan as his car is pursued by Lao Che and his gun-toting henchmen.

What follows are brief glimpses of one of my favourite roads in Macau - Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro - or known locally as San Ma Lo (lit: new road). It's my favourite road because its lined with those great looking shophouse buildings on either side of the road - that's probably why the film makers thought it would be a good double for Shanghai (although I'm not sure how prevalent they were there).

So in no particular order we can start with the following screen grab which shows the baddies car driving past our first location. It's where the cars first pull onto San Ma Lo at the junction with Travessa do Mastro. It looks slightly different these days (no thanks to the truck obscuring the view in Streetview) but there are still some clues in there to make the match including the shape of the building on the right.

The next one is quite easy to spot because the building behind the car hasn't changed much at all, although now it is home to a company (or person?) called Kuong Weng Wong. Look at the Streetview grab below and you can see the same shop on the left, by the open space.

Next up is a building that I actually once wrote a post about on my old blog and will (at some point in the near future) post it up again. It's the Cheung Tai Dai On pawnshop (Casa De Penhores) with its very distinctive arched front facade. It's unique along this road and so made it very easy to spot. You can see the lower part of it in the screen grab below (to the left of the car) and I have tried to match the angle on Streetview without much success.

Never mind, here is a closeup of it from a stitched photo I did a few years back. Sorry for the bend but that's just the old camera lens distorting it.

Actually, it was this building that initially helped me to figure out which road this filming was done on. I did read somewhere (I think an old Rough Guide from 1996) that the car chase was filmed on Rua De Felicidades, however, once I saw this building on  screen I knew that it wasn't correct. Some filming may have been done on that smaller road but I have to be able to positively identify anywhere.

Moving on to the next bit and we see a shot of Indy's car going up the road with a nice long row of shophouses in view. Believe it or not, some of the decor on the front of these shops can still be seen. In the screengrab below, the shop that is directly next to the Indy's car has a (what looks like) diamond pattern above the columns, and the one next to it (further away) has a striped board that can still be see.

So, we can see the same striped pattern on the fourth shop down on the right and the diamond pattern one shop closer to us. The cow on the modern Streetview corresponds to the shop second up from the right on the screen grab. If you look close enough under the cow you can see the same vertical grooves that can be seen on the film.

Finally, our last shot was taken a bit further on but looking back up the other way down the road. Look closely and you can see the same shops I just described, but now behind the baddies car in the background (well, at least the stripey- and diamond-patterned ones).

So it isn't too great a leap to get an almost similar angle on Streetview below - although the picture below does include a bit more. The red lettered column in the film grab above is actually the first grey column on the left (under the yellow horizontal banner).

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Harrison Ford (1984) - Pensão Sun Sun Hotel, Praca De Ponte E Horte, Macau

I recently read (and reread) the autobiography of Vic Armstrong and despite knowing him as Harrison Ford's stunt double, I also discovered that Vic had basically been involved in a whole plethora of films that I can remember seeing as a child. From the original Indiana Jones trilogy, to Krull, A Spaceman and King Arthur, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dragonslayer, Superman, Star Wars and many many more. Anyway, because Vic is a great guy and always has time for his fans on Twitter here are some of the scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, filmed in 1984. This film is on this blog because the initial Shanghai car chase was filmed in Macau.

Sadly, I can't take any credit for locating the following location because the background was given to me by a very helpful chap by the name of Ventsislav Doychev (https://twitter.com/VenDoychev). To cut a long story short I had offered to find out where Club Obi Wan was and failed miserably, only to have Ven come back to me a few months later with all the information on a platter. So a big thanks to Ven for letting me know.

The opening scenes in Temple of Doom involve Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) trying to do a deal with the evil Lao Che (the awesome Roy Chiao) at Club Obi Wan in Shanghai. Jones gets poisoned for his troubles and then shot at before jumping out of the window of the club and making off in a car whilst being chased by the baddies.

The good news was that the location has been identified (by Ven), the bad news is that building used for Club Obi Wan has gone. The only clue was an old photograph - purportedly taken by one of the production crew when they were doing a location scout - that shows the building concerned (I have no idea whose photo it is so if you know please comment so I can correctly attribute).

The green building at the back was the one converted into Club Obi Wan for the purpose of filming. It may not be too obvious from that photo but some closer inspection of the screen captures reveal the same windows, balcony railings and green colour of the walls. So, what and where was it?

The building was actually a hotel called the Pensão Sun Sun Hotel and it was located near to the inner harbour along Praca De Ponte E Horte. Can you see the building in the foreground? It didn't look so great back in 1984 when the film was made/released, but following the Macau Govt's sprucing up of old buildings it now looks pretty nice. Below is the recent Streetview taken at the best angle I can get to match.

As you can see the Pensão Sun Sun Hotel has been replaced by another building. It's still a hotel on the site but now it's the Best Western Sun Sun Hotel.

So anyway, here are some of the screencaps.

These shots shows the chaps (actually it was Vic Armstrong and his wife Wendy Leech doing the stunts in place of Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw) falling down the side of the building and through some awnings before catching hold on to a building on the opposite side of the road (in this case it was the slimline Rua Do Bocage next to the hotel).

Now, sadly, the row of balconies you can see in the background of the above screenshots has also disappeared, however, it does appear that the stunt was done so that they landed on an awning sticking out from the nice yellow building that is still around. Here is a modern Streetview of Rua Do Bocage.

The small door on the right is pretty much the same position that the Club Obi Wan Main door was at during filming.

And finally, this is how it looks today (I know which one I prefer and it's not just because it was featured on the film).