Saturday, February 28, 2015

That Man Bolt - Fred Williamson (1973) - HSBC Building, Queen's Road Central

The bank for which Bolt has to do his couriering is an anonymous place by all accounts and staffed by none other than Geoffrey Weeks who also played the Braithewaite character in Enter the Dragon.
Chaplin Chang told me Geoffrey Weeks was a radio host with RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) but I am dubious because I cam't seem to find anything out about him. If anyone has any information, please feel free to share.

Never having seen (up until this post, at least) this side of the old HSBC building before, I wasn't even sure this was filmed in Hong Kong at all. I just didn't recognise the place. It has since popped up in a few more films but for a while I was confused. This building - the 3rd version at this address - was built in the 1930's and lasted up until 1984 when it was replaced by the current Norman Foster-designed HQ.

This is the entrance that fronts Queen's Road and its not often seen. Thankfully, the photographer Harrison Forman did get a decent picture of this side in the 1940s giving me the conformation I required. I can't seem to embed the picture here so please follow this link:

Anyway, here's how it looks on film.

That Man Bolt - Fred Williamson (1973) - Central Waterfront

Here's another great shot from the film.

Hang on...wait a sec...oh no ....arghh! They've done it again!

I'm beginning to think I'm living in a parallel universe. Here's the correct view after flipping horizontally.

This view is quite good because it shows us where the angled Blake Pier was in relation to the Connaught Centre (still with scaffolding at the top), as well as the pale low-rise former Central Fire Station (now replaced by the Hang Seng HQ) with the vehicular ferry piers in front of it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

That Man Bolt - Fred Williamson (1973) - Aberdeen Harbour - flipped again!

Another later shot taken from the skies above Aberdeen Harbour, this time from the western end. But look closely and you'll see there is something funny about this view too...

 ...yup, another horizontal flip. For those unfamiliar with Aberdeen geography the old Aberdeen Power Station that can be seen lower left, was on the westerly tip of Ap Lei Chau - now the site of the South Horizons development. The angle on the sea wall next to the oil/gas containers can still be seen today in front of Phase 1 of the development (where blocks 3 and 1 currently stand).

The reclamation occurring on the opposite side of the harbour has some long-roofed structures at the top, this is the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market and the market building, along with the Aberdeen Fisheries and Marine Office just below it, are still around. The rest of the reclamation became the Tin Wan Praya Road and cold storage facilities.

Look carefully in the distance and you will make out the yellow-coloured building that was previously identified Aberdeen Harbour Mansion, it's reasonably prominent on the lower picture and its possible to see the Shek Pai Wan housing estate behind it (to the right on the screen grab). Anyway, once again, I have no idea why the film has been flipped but I have flipped it back and you can see what the film should have looked like below.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

That Man Bolt - Fred Williamson (1973) - Borrett Mansions, Hong Kong

One location that features fairly prominently throughout this movie is Borrett Mansions on Borrett Road. This is because it is the apartment block where Bolt keeps his Hong Kong pad. As such we get multiple instances throughout where we see it from various angles.

 The elevated approach of Borrett Road

The entrance gate

Here is the most recent view via Streetview.

We are also treated to some views from the Borrett Mansion apartment as well - although I'm not sure which floor it was - and the first shot shows Fred Williamson looking out from the balcony. The view is quite revealing because it shows the Connaught Centre still under construction which, I think, might put the filming in the early part of 1973 or perhaps even 1972(?). Unfortunately I can't recreate this view (unless someone reading this has access to Borrett Mansion and would be kind enough to supply a modern-day comparison :-)), but suffice to say it isn't quite as unfettered as seen here back in the early 70's. Remember that the Connaught Centre (now Jardine House) was officially Hong Kong's very first skyscraper. Since then it seems as though several thousand more have been added.

View to Kowloon
View down to the ground floor entrance

Anyway, rounding off this rather photo-laden post with some more shots from the ground floor, including the entrance to the building, the front gate and Borrett Road.

 And in case you had any doubt where we were...

That Man Bolt - Fred Williamson (1973) - HK Macau Ferry Terminal, Sheung Wan

Seeing as we were just talking about the Ferry terminal, then why not take a quick look.The hydrofoil that we just saw leaving HK for Macau suddenly does an about turn and arrives back in HK. Amazing!

As you can see the hydrofoil goes past one of the larger slow passenger ferries, the Wah Shan, before tying up against the ferry pier. The old pier/terminal we have seen a couple of times on this blog previously (for example in The Man with the Golden Gun and Flatfoot in Hong Kong) but this film beats them by a couple of years.

I'm sure this brings back some memories for anyone who lived in or visited the place prior to the Shun Tak Centre being constructed because that's pretty much what sits on this site now.Is that larger ferry the Wah Shan? If we assume the filming of this scene was done with reasonable continuity then I guess it should be but, to be honest, these outside scenes showing the wider angle could have been filmed at anytime. Perhaps there is a HK<>Macau Ferry expert who can confirm the name of that ship?

Anyway, getting closer, we see Bolt and his RHKP escort leave the terminal building and get into a car before driving off.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

That Man Bolt - Fred Williamson (1973) - Western Harbour views

Some views that aren't reversed are shown over the opening titles as the camera pans anti-clockwise from Kowloon over to the island. A great view of Yaumatei Typhoon shelter including the Ferry Point Estate at the bottom of the screen. The typhoon shelter as we see it below is completely gone with all of that waterfront area reclaimed into West Kowloon and much of it now part of Olympic Station.

As the camera moves left we can see Stonecutter Island in its former isolated glory - now completely attached to mainland Kowloon courtesy of the container processing terminals around Lai Chi Kok.

Followed by a view over a relatively undeveloped waterfront around Central and Sheung Wan. The square building on the waterfront just left of centre is, I believe, the car park that still sits next to Rumsey Street. The area to the right of it became the Shun Tak Centre but at the time of filming was still a very low rise Macau Ferry terminal (we will see it close up in a later post). The ferry piers to the left were the variouys outlying island piers I believe with the Central vehicular ferry pier being the double pronged pier on the left. The piers area has been moved north over the years (i.e towards the camera) and of course the vehicular pier was removed in the 1990s.

The title sequence ends with a Macao hydrofoil heading away from HK with the western end of HK Island in the background and Green Island.

And a nice shot of the under construction Connaught Centre (now Jardine House) to round it off. This makes me think that this film was filmed pretty much around the same time as Enter the Dragon or perhaps slightly earlier as Connaught Centre in the latter film appears to be more complete.

That Man Bolt - Fred Williamson (1973) - Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong

Many thanks to AP once again for supplying me with more classic 70's HK-shot material as I turn to look at the rather excellent That Man Bolt starring the Black Cobra himself, Fred Williamson. Reviewing the film and its various locations I have discovered that the film makers have been a bit cheeky and the film seems to have been reversed. I'm not sure if this is intentionally done to give the locations a more varied look, or whether it was just incompetence on behalf of whoever initially processed and developed the film. Either way, it has made me scratch my head a few times before realising that I was looking at a location in reverse.

My first post for this film is therefore a great example, and luckily it's also one of the first scenes in the film. We are given a rather impressive aerial shot of an area that we are told is Macao. Here are the grabs.

 My knowledge of Macao isn't the best, but even I know enough to see that this isn't there, and the closely packed boats down there look familiar, right? Yes, of course it is Aberdeen Harbour in Hong Kong's southside, but a weird angle. The angle is weird because this is what it should really look like.

The giveaway for the flipped angle are the buildings on the right hand side and the curve of Aberdeen Praya Road around to the town centre. The big yellow one is called Aberdeen Harbour Mansion. The smaller one this side of it is Yip Yee Mansion and the small row of buildings closer still are part of a row numbered  30 - 46 Aberdeen Praya Road. All are still around.

The mound on the left of the top picture is actually part of Ap Lei Chau and currently houses Sham Wan Towers as well as the Ap Lei Chau part of the bridge and the bit of coast on the right of the second picture is the hillock that still houses the Aberdeen Seminary.

So, intentional film flip or just a mistake by someone who didn't really know which way round the film should have been printed? I suspect the latter, because ultimately these locations are fairly anonymous except to über geeks like myself and to reverse the film to disguise an are makes no real sense.

Anyway, you heard it here first, and it is the first of several examples throughout the film - but I should say the film is pretty good and worth watching. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

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

This is a night scene which would normally prove a bit difficult for identification purposes but for the existence of a sign to one of Tsim Sha Tsui's long-established eateries: the Very Good Sea Food Restaurant or the Ting Ho (頂好海鮮酒家 ) as its name is usually romanised.

It's located at 90-94 Nathan Road and the screen caps above show us looking south from the junction with Granville Road. Although I've never been there to eat, it's supposedly quite good (I guess the fact it has been around so long is testament to that), and was the subject of an old Bruce Lee related story that ended up proving to be bogus (someone had said the Unicorn Fist promo lunch was held there, but actually this took place at the old Miramar). Anyway, here is the same view today thanks to Streetview. The current wavy blue resto sign can be seen directly underneath/behind the one for The Body Shop.

Emmanuelle 2 - Sylvia Kristel (1975) - Hong Kong and Yaumatei Ferry

More commonly recognised as HYF, this company provided cross harbour services for many years alongside the Star Ferry. The cross harbour tunnel(s) put paid to much of the company's business and as such it has since diversified into the usual property development sidelines, but it does still run some ferry services, notably the dangerous goods vehicle ferry (vehicles carrying potentially hazardous or explosive loads still must get a vehicular ferry service from Kwun Tong <> North Point) and what better way to reuse the now defunct general vehicular ferries than turn them into the Bauhinia Cruise boats. Okay, not a ferry service as such, but good enough.

Anyway, here we see Emmanuelle crossing the harbour in one of the old HYF double-decked double-headed passenger ferries (or 雙層雙頭渡輪). Similar in style to the famous Star Ferry.

Sadly, I can't tell which specific ferry this was. The film was shot in 1975 and at that time the company had quite a few of these boats in service. According to this rather excellent Chinese Wikipedia article there were 15 ferries, of this style, in service during 1975 (take your pick).

These days the ferry licences have been taken over by New World First Ferry (owned by Henderson Land) but even then the routes in operation are few by comparison, though that's not surprising given the number of cross-harbour and cross-island road routes there are now.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bruce Lee & I - Betty Ting Pei (1976) - Fei Ngo Shan Road, Kowloon

Here's a quick one I should've got last year but was confused by the contemporary tree growth that obscures some of the view. But seeing as other scenes were filmed up here, it makes sense that this was shot around the same time (it may have been for the same scene, I can't remember). Anyway, it's a nice view from the cutting that takes the road from Kowloon side over to the New Territories side.

Here is a reasonably similar view from Streetview - sadly the Google car cam doesn't go that low. But you'll notice the extra tree growth and the fact that the cutting has been subsequently shot-creted.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Lin Fa Kung, Tai Hang

A brief and rather narrow view of this famous temple Lin Fa Kung (蓮花宮)in the Tai Hang area just north of Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island. It's a shame we see only the window because this place is one of Hong Kong's more unique temples with its octagonal shape at the front.

Here is a wider angle courtesy of Streetview.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Emmanuelle 2 - Sylvia Kristel (1975) - Postbox #47, Junction of Wellington St and Queen's Road, Central

Another post where I shall, perhaps stupidly, go out on a limb and make a stab at a location without any real firm evidence. The location revolves around the number on the postbox which currently refers to a spot where Queen's Road Central and Wellington Street meet up.

As you can see from the screen captures below, the postbox number is #47 and according to this rather excellent blog, it puts the current postbox of that number at this location. If this is a valid assumption then the building at the background would be the pre-cursor to the current Hong Kong Jewellery Building, built in 1984.

Anyway, I leave this one out there in case anyone has any firmer evidence that can confirm either way.