Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Happy Valley Racecourse, Hong Kong

A quick post to see out the year (it's still 2014 as I type). A brief glimpse of the racecourse at Happy Valley.

Here's looking forward to an interesting 2015 and a whole host of new film locations!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Connaught Centre/Jardine House, Central

Well, not so much the building, but actually the view from one of its famous circular windows. In the film the US Drugs Enforcement Agency is based inside.

The black and white building we can see through the window is the former Gammon House, now the Bank of America Tower - which was subject to a significant fraud case many year ago. Look carefully on the far left of the lowest picture and you can also make out Hutchison House and the Furama Hotel, the latter quite famous for its revolving restaurant at the top. HMS Tamar is the dockyard in front.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Playing Field Road, Mongkok

Moving onto episode 9: The Red Pole, we get a brief glimpse of that, sadly, rare beast in Hong Kong: the corner shophouse. I know of only four current remaining examples (and one of those is also about to go) and sadly the following one isn't one of them.

We see Mark McGann (who played Brady) crossing the road next to Mongkok Police station and behind him, on the corner of Playing Field Road and Sai Yeung Choi Street North, is a great example of this old and increasingly rare type of HK architecture.

As mentioned, sadly this building no longer exists and for those who don't live in HK this is a good example of how redevelopment here works. If you look at the following Streetview grab of the same corner, you can see the remnants of the old joists that joined the building on to its neighbour. Both buildings on the left and right are still there, but the best looking one (and most likely due to the fact that it was low rise) has been replaced by a new generic - but taller and more "rent-efficient" - building called the Capricorn Centre (built 1995).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Ho Tung Lau, Shatin

One of the more elusive properties to find information on seems to be Ho Tung Lau. This grand building used to stand on the shores of the Shatin Sea at the upper end of the valley close to the modern-day Fo Tan station. It's exact locale is still a bit difficult to ascertain, but there is an area on the local maps also called Ho Tung Lau as well as one of the MTR Fo Tan depot buildings with the same name, which indicates that it was somewhere close to the far end of the residential development known as "Royal Ascot" (Edit: see Thomas' comments below about it being further south under Jubilee Garden).

There seems to be only a few decent photographs of this place, so it's nice that Robert Clouse (the director) managed to feature it quite prominently in this film - possibly not too long before its eventual demolition and the areas redevelopment into the Fo Tan train depot. The building features in the film as a drugs lab that gets raided by the police. 

 Ma On Shan in the background

I may have gone a bit overboard with the screencaps here, but I think any shot of this long forgotten building is worth putting up.

I'm not sure if the school sign on the roof was authentic or not, simply because I can't find any useful information on the place, but in the film the building is referred to as an abandoned school.

Mitchum goes back at night to case the joint and gets inside. The following night time shots are from this scene, but I have no idea if they were filmed on location or in a the studio. I'm going to take a gamble and say they were on location simply because I am an optimist...

I've put a location link in this post (it can be found at the bottom), based on Thomas' comments below (i.e. Block 6 Jubilee Garden)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Caine House, Wanchai

A brief look at the older building, Caine House, that forms part of the Wanchai District Police HQ on Arsenal Street. Here we see Mitchum walking along by the outer wall that fronts Arsenal Street before turning through the (now gone) main entrance. You can just make out the underside of one of the watchtowers as Mitchum walks underneath. This along with another was removed when that part of the site was redeveloped, but there are still two left along the wall on Gloucester Road.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - HMS Tamar, Hong Kong

Not a typical view of the place in that it is looking at a ship at dock on the harbourfront, but seeing as the ship is obviously a military one then it makes sense that it would be docked in front of the Naval Base that has since the handover become the PLA HQ in HK.

I'm sure there are certain individuals out there who will be able to tell us the class and name of this vessel as well as when it was stationed here. The grabs are a little blurry courtesy of the fact it was a moving shot and this DVD transfer isn't the greatest quality, sadly.

Anyway, on that note, have a nice Xmas and I'll start posting again when I get back from my hols :-)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kill a Dragon - Jack Palance (1967) - Oriental Ballroom, Pilkem Street

Following on from the last I Spy post where I managed to identify the Oriental Ballroom on Pilkem Street, it was pointed out to me by my good friend and cohort, AP, that the same place was also seen in Kill a Dragon. Although we don't see the outside like in I Spy, we do get a look inside and see the same stairs and red decor, leading us both to believe that the Kill a Dragon crew also came here for this scene with Jack Palance and Aldo Ray as the former tries to convince the latter to come and help him with the villagers. Same red decor, same bannister, same white bannister spokes.

There are two bar scenes in this film, this one and the second one at the "World of Suzie Wong" bar on Tonnochy Road (see this post). The interior of the Suzie Wong bar scene, where Palance plays pool with his girlfriend, I have recently found out was actually filmed at Shaw's Movietown in Clearwater Bay. By pure chance I got involved in a little chat with a lady called Caroline who was actually one of the extras in that scene and she confirmed the set was built over at Shaws. It's interesting for me to hear this because I hadn't realised at the time that Shaws obviously also rented out their studio space - I had always assumed they used them solely for their own productions. Well, you live and learn.

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Pilkem Street, Kowloon

Bill Cosby seems to be making all the headlines at the moment for all the wrong reasons and so I thought I would post this latecomer from The Loser, which sees the boys drive up to a place called the Oriental Ballroom before going up the stairs into its red decor'd interior.

It was a bit of a bummer to find initially, but given all the clues in the screen grab I'm not sure why because it looks as though all the original buildings are still here along Pilkem Street, just off Jordan Road. No surprise really seeing as in this episode the duo also go to the Lung Yu Restaurant just around the corner on Jordan Road.

Here's what it looked like on screen.

In the end I managed to half guess and half read the sign on the outside which says 東方舞廳 - dung fong mou teng. Roughly speaking I guess Oriental Ballroom is a good translation. But if you look at the top photo you can also see part of the building name next door which reads "Lucky" something or other. You wouldn't believe how many buildings there are in HK that are called Lucky something. A lot! Anyway, I think I've got the correct one below if you compare the two pictures below. The whole block looks to be the same one from 1965, and a quick look on Centamap confirms that Lucky House was indeed built in 1961, and the one next door (painted blue in the screen grab below) - Shing Hing House - is even older, being built in 1957!

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

The obligatory shot of a plane landing at Kai Tak, just so that we know we are actually in Hong Kong. No matter how many times I see pictures of Kai Tak, I never get tired of them which is a good thing because I suspect Kai Tak has pretty much featured on almost every (pre-1998) film I've featured on this blog.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Connaught Centre, Hong Kong

Just as we run into Xmas, I thought a new film would be nice, this time The Amsterdam Kill directed by Robert Clouse (we already looked at two of his HK-made films on this blog: Enter the Dragon and Golden Needles). It stars an ageing Robert Mitchum, but actually is a cracking film if you get the chance to see it, and of course lots of interesting HK locations to be found, some never seen here before.

So let's start off with a quick view of the Connaught Centre where the US Drug Enforcement Agency is supposedly based. Of course, these days we know this building as Jardine House, although I'm not sure of when the name change occurred. In 1972 when it first opened it was Hong Kong's tallest building and its very first 'skyscraper'. At some point the owners noticed bits of concrete were crumbling from the side of the building and the whole thing was encased with the aluminium cladding we can now see, however, it looks to have still been exposed concrete in this film.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - No.60 to 66 Johnston Road, Wanchai

No.60 to 66 Johnston Road, or as many people in Hong Kong now know it - The Pawn. Before it became a rather posh restaurant - much to the disappointment of those who felt it should have been converted into something a bit more accessible to the general public - The Pawn was in fact a block of four old shophouses including a pawnshop called the 和昌大押 or Wo Cheong Pawnshop.

Anyway, it gets a brief background role in its former shambolic splendour as Pak & Co drive away down Luard Road.

And below is a recent snap from Streetview. Note you can also see Trust Tower in both the film grabs and the Streetview picture - it's the building on the left of the pictures.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Remembering Bruce Lee...

I thought I would take this opportunity to let everyone know that Jon Benn, who is perhaps most famous for playing the mafia boss in Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon, has just re-released his autobiography via Blacksmith Books.

The original publication/release in 2013 was a slightly more informal affair and Jon seemed to be trying to do it all himself - meaning it wasn't that easy to grab hold of a copy without contacting him directly. To be honest, the print quality of that version was also slightly lacking. However, thankfully, Jon is now in the safe and professional hands of a renowned local publisher and the newly printed version is high quality - better text quality, better paper quality, sharper picture quality, and the best thing is that the price is only $138 (not including p&p).

So, if you missed out on the initial offering of this book directly from Jon, you can now pick up a copy directly from Blacksmith Books at the following link (if you are not in HK) or locally at one of the many HK bookstores.

I have to say after having a few nights out with Jon over the past few years, I can say that reading his book and chatting to him is a similar experience. He has a lot of funny and interesting stories up his sleeve and you get to read all about them in this book...

...and speaking of nights out. Here is a picture of the man himself, taken a couple of years back at Pier 7 when I went to meet him for a beverage or two. This was before we were all stone drunk. Photo courtesy of Tim Redel. (yes, I was on the cropped bit, but I'm very shy :-) ).

Order Jon's book...NOW!