Friday, 31 October 2014

Batman: The Dark Knight - Christian Bale (2008) - Midlevels Escalator, Lyndhurst Terrace

This is another scene that made big news in the local papers, however, for some unknown reason The HK Standard now limits its archive to the previous 4 years (previously we could browse articles from about 1994 onward) and so I can't link to anything useful anymore.

Never mind, this following scene filmed on the section of the Midlevel's escalator was actually done with several thousand people all gathered around the road below taking snap shots of the two stars Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman.

The road below them is Lyndhurst Terrace and Gage Street. In fact, there is the odd amateur film on YouTube of Morgan Freeman doing a walkabout along part of Gage Street, but I'm not sure that was filmed or if it was it didn't seem to make the final cut.

Gage Street in the background

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Batman: The Dark Knight - Christian Bale (2008) - Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Although the film was released in 2008, the Hong Kong part of the filming was done during November of 2007. How do I know this? Well, even if it wasn't mentioned in Wikipedia I knew because I was lucky enough to see some of the filming taking place (or at least some sort of rehearsal perhaps) in the harbour area.

I was walking along the TST waterfront with my parents who were over for a visit and this huge big white C-130 cargo plane appeared from the direction of the airport and flew up and down the harbour front for about 10 or 15 minutes.

The plane did actually feature in the film as the aircraft that helps whisk the bad guy and Batman out through the window of the IFC building to bring him back for summary justice in Gotham City.

But anyway, this is not that particular scene. The following screen captures are from the initial HK-sequence when we see Morgan Freeman's character arriving by helicopter and landing on the top of the Peninsula Hotel. We get unusual angles on No.1 Peking Road (on the right), the Masterpiece (on the left) and of course the Peninsula Hotel (centre).

Monday, 27 October 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Enterprise Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui

This is one of those locations that has been made easy for me thanks to the name of the building appearing on screen. It doesn't happen often but it makes life easy when it does.

Anyway, in this case we are at the Enterprise Centre at 4 Hart Avenue. Looking at it you wouldn't believe it is the same building but I have checked the records and can confirm this is still the same place - built in 1976 and still standing. However, the owner of the building has done what most people wouldn't consider - renovate the building completely rather than demolish and rebuild. As a result the outside makes it look like a brand new building.

What appears to be a vehicular entrance in the second shot above has been converted into the main entrance of the building now. The only thing that seems to be unchanged is the double pole of the road sign.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tai Pan - Bryan Brown (1986) - Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, Macau

Not much of this film was made in HK - other than a little tidbit told to me by none other than stunt maestro Vic Armstrong who had a small cameo in the film (as well as being stunt coordinator) as a "Drunken Sailor". Vic says his brothel scenes were filmed at Golden Harvest Studios.

But anyway, Hong Kong aside, we do get to see a rather nice bit of Macau including the popular Lou Lim Ieoc Garden. We've seen it before on this blog courtesy of the 1978 Robert Clouse version of Game of Death.

But in the Tai Pan film, the locale serves as the Macau retreat of none other than Dirk Struan, the original master of the Noble House. Here are some screen captures.

For a few of my own pictures of the place, please click on the Game of Death link I provided above, there are some pictures there from a trip I made sometime in 2006.

Friday, 24 October 2014

A Conversation (of sorts) with Salon Films

It's always great when people visit my blog, it's nice to know that I am not the only one interested in this kind of stuff, and it's even better when people leave comments about a location or a memory of a particular place or time. It really adds quite a bit of anecdotal information that would otherwise be lost. I place a lot of importance on these kind of 'verbal histories' and feel that they should be shared. Anyway, sometimes the best information comes from those who have been involved, directly or indirectly, with the films on this blog and a few months back I was fortunate enough to be visited (in the virtual sense) by a chap called Neil MacDonald, a former location manager at Salon Films, who left a lot of very detailed and interesting information about some of the productions he was involved with during the 1980's.

The comments Neil left were so good that to let them disappear into the ether over time seemed to be a bit of a crime, so I have consolidated them all into this one post and preserved them here for eternity (or at least until the EMC from a nuclear explosion fries everyone's electronics circuits and sends us all back to the middle ages).

Monday, 20 October 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Percival Street, Causeway Bay

Yellow is the colour of the moment it seems, so it seems only fitting that this post from Yellowthread Street (episode: Rummy's Cut), should also feature something else this case a tram.

The scene has no real significance to the plot, but I guess when you spend all that money filming in Hong Kong you may as well showcase some of the sights and sounds. So, here we have a nice yellow tram making the turn from Hennessy Road into Percival Street in Causeway Bay (strictly speaking still part of Wanchai District).

Other than the addition of a pedestrian walkway - because, after all, why should cars be inconvenienced to stop for crossing pedestrians, right? - and the removal of many overhanging signs, the place hasn't changed much physically. Percival Street is still the turnoff/on for trams heading into and away from Happy Valley, but if you were to take a look at shop rents in this area over the past few years you'll find it has become one of the most expensive streets in HK with some utterly crazy prices being paid for prime retail space. Anyway, below is the current Streetview.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

The last part of the film sees our trusty but rusty ferry, the "Fa Tsan", finally succumb to its explosion, typhoon and pirate damage and sink beneath the waves of Hong Kong's famous harbour. Except, for the purpose of the film there was a little bit of 1950's camera trickery going on and it looks as though the footage of the sinking was actually superimposed onto a background of HK Island.

I guess you need to see it really, but the affect isn't too bad considering it was 1959, but the colours don't quite match between the foreground and background.

However, this did get me wondering because several months ago on a Facebook group page, someone who grew up in Hong Kong remembers seeing an old boat being towed into Kowloon Bay near Kai Tak Airport and being sunk for a film. Lots of suggestions were made, including The Sand Pebbles, but I'm not sure The Sand Pebbles filmed around that area (it was mainly in Port Shelter), so I wonder if this was the scene they were watching - the boat sinking in Kai Tak later being superimposed onto the footage from the harbour?

The ridge line in the background appears to be the western end of HK Island with Victoria Peak and High West in left and centre, but the angle suggests a location at the western end of the harbour (perhaps a camera sited on Stonecutter Island?) but there were obvious impracticalities to sinking a boat in the middle of the harbour.

Well, if anyone has any clues please feel free to share, in the meantime I'll update this post if I find out anything more.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

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

More Aberdeen Harbour, this time from episode 7 - Rummy's Cut. Actually, this time we go down to the Sham Wan area of the harbour in the eastern portion next to the floating restaurant pontoons and the Aberdeen Marina Club.

The first shot above shows us looking from Sham Wan towards the west with the bridge joining Hong Kong to Ap Lei Chau (the Ap Lei Chau Bridge). All the high rises we can see are on Ap Lei Chau.

The area around the Sham Wan containing all the private slipways. The low section of the AMC can be seen back left and the skinny building on the right is in fact the Marine Police Aberdeen Base.

The final picture shows the AMC and if you look carefully you can see one of the floating restaurants rather ornate pontoons just to the left.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

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

Another excellent identification by Arthur, who has told me this is an aerial view of the streets and buildings surrounding Queen's Road East in Wanchai. Here's what it looks like in a shot from the third episode - Key Witness.

So, Queen's Road East is the main road that we can see running from centre left to lower right. The prominent brown coloured building is the - only in Hong Kong - "Greatmany Centre", and as Arthur mentioned in his comment the smaller building to it's right is the low rise building of 117 Queen's Rd East on the corner of Ship Street.

Many of the low rise buildings in this area have been replaced and more upheaval has been ongoing for the past few years as Hopewell Holdings flattens the area around Ship Street to make way for its new so-called Megatower project.

Anyway, here is Arthur's comment as he includes a bit more detail:
For the...aerial photo, my guess is the crossroad in the lower center of the pic is Queen's Road East x Ship St. The twin brown buildings and apartment building with 4 windows in a row to its right are still there.

For the crossroad at the top right corner, it is probably Johnston Road x Lugard Road (google map: 22.276470, 114.171511) You can compare the interestingly oriented facade of the build where the Boston Restaurant now is in both pics.

Another possible evidences are those buildings with large roofs - may be able to match the movie theaters once dotted this area of Wanchai.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - More adventures with Chaplin Chang

Chaplin Chang, assistant director on Enter the Dragon and general go-to man for many western production companies filming in Hong Kong, made an early appearance in his very diverse movie career as an extra when filming Ferry to Hong Kong. In fact, he tells me that this was the very first western produced film he was involved with and was introduced to the films producers by Roy Chiao with whom he had a long friendship.

There is a scene in Ferry to Hong Kong when a Chinese junk catches fire nearby and proceeds to explode because it has been packed with explosives. The explosion damages the ferry but the crew of the junk are saved just before it blows up.

Chaplin was given the job of rushing over to the side of the ship and shouting that the junk was on fire. Here he is in action.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Junk Island (Fat Tong Chau), Tseung Kwan O

Here is a real piece of forgotten history that took me a while to figure out. There is a sequence in the film when the ferry, after suffering a severe amount of damage in a typhoon, is struggling in to shore when a boat load of pirates - led by a very young Roy Chiao - come aboard to rob and pillage. As the boat is nearing the coastline we get a nice view of what looks to be an uninhabited island in the background.

Now, believe it or not but the strip of land in the background isn't actually an island at all, but is in fact the Lei Yue Mun headland, and the bumpy bit just behind the boats sail is Devil's Peak! Here is a modern day comparison of that ridgeline so you can see for yourself.

What you need to bear in mind here is that this area of Hong Kong has seen a vast amount of change with a huge amount of reclamation. I believe in the first shot we can see Junk Island (aka Fat Tong Chau) which has since been joined to the mainland (in this case with the Clearwater Bay peninsula) by reclamation, much in the same way that Stonecutter Island has been 'attached' to West Kowloon.

The shoreline we see above, in the fourth picture, was most likely part of the old coastline before reclamation took it away and replaced it with the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Kennedy Road, Central

In addition to the excellent bit of spotting Arthur did for us on this previous Kennedy Road post, he has also pulled out all the stops to identify a very obscure (to me, at least) piece of the same road that actually features a few seconds after the sequence from the previous post - another case of geography being manipulated in the film world.

Anyway, the location is just down from the...wait for it...Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Yes, that is the full name for the administration offices that now sit at 42 Kennedy Road - a site previously inhabited by a Govt quarters building called The Hermitage (though it had the address: 75 MacDonnell Road).

Anyway, the lens on the film camera makes the steps appear much closer than they are, so even though the following Streetview was taken closer to them, they actually appear much further away.

Once again, many thanks to Arthur for his help.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

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

Episode 7 of Yellowthread Street is called Rummy's Cut and starts off with what is supposed to be a gold/jewellery heist but turns out to be a set up. So we have some nice shots of the area on Bonham Strand where Mercer and Hillier Street join on to it. In fact the camera gives us a look right up Mercer Street.

Here's a comparison, well, as close as I could get from the confines of my nice comfortable chair.

Actually, I initially thought that perhaps the building on the corner (left of screen) was the same one, but I think that it has been replaced by a newer one that had no choice but occupy the same odd footprint - either that or a major remodeling of the windows has gone on.

Next the camera sweep left so we get a view up Bonham Strand.

Okay, so there has been a lot of redevelopment here. It looks like all the stuff on the right hand side has been redeveloped, and of course in the far distance we can see that we once had an unobstructed view of the Wing Hang Bank Building (located at 161-169 Queen's Road Central), but it is funny to see that the HSBC is still there - albeit with the subsequent rename (from Hongkong Bank to HSBC) and repainting of the building.

Lastly the camera settles on its intended subject - a jewelers close to the junction with Hillier Street.

Now, the Streetview version gives a view from further away, but I can tell you that the buildings in the top picture has been replaced by a single block called the Teda Building, with its entrance around the corner on Hillier Street. However, there are some relics left over (which helped me locate this) and that includes the Kung Kai Hung shop (off screen on the right in the screen cap and behind the taxi, centre picture, in the bottom streetview picture).

Also, look carefully at the top screen cap and you can see an establishment at the back (on Hillier Street) with the words "Cheong Gold" - the rest of the name being obscured. Well, actually this business is still there and its called Lee Cheong Gold Dealers Limited in the same building (Hillier Commercial Building).

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - St Paul's Church Facade, Macau

Macau's most famous landmark features in the next part of the funeral procession as they pass the facade of the fire-destroyed church of St Paul's.

If you have ever been to Macau then you will most probably have seen this close up. All I can say about it is that the steps in front tend to be chock-full of Mainland Tourists these days (Chow Tai Fook are really missing a trick here).

Monday, 6 October 2014

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Penha Church, Macau

Well, seeing as I have just been theorising about the use of the Penha Church roof as a possible location for a camera shot of the inner harbour, I think the view of the same church in a later scene may lend some credibility to my theory. (NB: this later scene was preceded by a single shot from the earlier sequence where we can see the cross again).

Anyway, here is a brief glimpse of the side of the church as a funeral procession makes its way down the hill from the church towards the ferry. So, first off we have a repeat of the same angle from earlier (probably Penha Church cross n the right).

The next shot sees our funeral procession walking down a hill. I will make an educated guess here and say that it was probably the path that runs down the side of the hill next to the Penha Church.

I make the previous assumption (despite me knowing how geography is often messed around with in films) because the same scene shows us looking up the hill with a piece of the Church visible in the background.

Anyway, there is still a small road that runs down the side of the hill and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it was the same one - albeit now with a rather more obscured view - or at least a path than ran just next to the current road (I say that because there is a retaining wall on the film grab that looks similar in design to the wall we see on the side of the road in the streetview picture below). The road runs up to the car park below the church which can be seen in the lower picture.