Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Last Grenade - Stanley Baker (1969) - Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun

Here is one of the urban spots that was proving difficult for me to locate, that is until Thomas came along with a suggestion that was right on the nail. It was part of the scene when Baker and his motley crew are being taken from the airport after their arrival to their tumbledown base in the New Territories. I'm not sure quite how they made it onto HK Island from Kai Tak on the way to the NT but it's nice to see some real local colour from the late 60's.

I'm not sure where Sheung Wan ends and Sai Ying Pun starts but the recent opening of the western extension of the MTR's Island Line means that Sai Ying Pun station has opened pretty much underneath this area and exit A1 is further back east along Queen's Road West, just beyond the curve we can see in the upper picture. Anyway, here's the reminder.

Queen's Road West turning right into...
...Centre Street

Here are the comments and links that led to the confirmation that this was the intersection between Queen's Road West and Centre Street in Sai Ying Pun.
This might be where Queen's Road West meets Centre Street. The very curve at the back seems fit, but I am unable to match the shop fronts. Need some other old photos of the area of the time for reference...

The shape of the column of the shophouse on the left hand side seem to match this one - (the one with red writing above the yellow bin)
This might be a match of the blueish restaurant building -
and...from the opposite point of view -
If you click through on Thomas's first link you can see the shophouse with its specific column design. It's not the only old building in the area but it's certainly nice to see it still around whereas the opposite side of the road has been completely replaced and redeveloped over the years. Anyway, a great find by Thomas - one of many he has done for me on this blog - so a big thanks to him.

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Shaws Movietown, Clearwater Bay

Saving the best for last and the film's finale was shot in and around the Shaw Movietown plot over in Clearwater Bay in Sai Kung. Any self-respecting Shaws fan should be able to recognise a lot of what follows including the main gates, the old Chinese village set including the famous wooden bridge and also the lovely views from the back of the lot towards the hills and mountains surrounding Sai Kung and Port Shelter. As a result, this post probably has far too many screencaps.

Those same yellow gates are still hanging at the front entrance and the wall at the side hasn't changed much. Thankfully Shaw House still stands on it little hill but entrance into the place is as difficult as it was in the film. Without prior arrangement you just can't get in anymore. The 3rd picture shows the view looking back towards Clearwater Bay Road from the front gates. Here is the current Streetview.

Moving inside the complex and there is a chase scene across much of the Shaw Chinese town set. Some familiar sights to be seen for any Shaw fan as mentioned earlier. I enjoy Shaw films but I have no idea how many times these sets were doubts tens and possibly hundreds.

Finally the views over Port Shelter from the far back of the studio lot. The island in the bottom screencap is Sharp Island, a very popular local dive spot.

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Tsuen Wan Sports Ground, Tsuen Wan

This one took a bit of tracking down because it has been redeveloped - as has much of the old Tsuen Wan town. Part of the Queen's itinerary took her to a dragon dance on a sports ground. She also painted the dragon's eye. The venue was the old sports ground that has since been demolished to make way for part of Tsuen Wan Park and a development called "The Dynasty" which stands right next door to Nina Tower (Tsuen Wan's tallest building). The rest of the site still appears to be derelict and storage for construction materials.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Hotel Miramar, Kowloon

Sadly the original Miramar Hotel had already been demolished and replaced by the Miramar Shopping Centre by the time I first came to HK. The current Miramar Hotel, now known as 'The Mira', actually stands on the opposite side of the road to its famous predecessor.

As a Bruce Lee fan (of sorts), I was first aware of the place due to Lee's association with its Japanese restaurant (the Kanetanake where he was supposed to have dinner the night he died) and room where the Unicorn Fist press conference was held, but aside from Lee, the place was already well established as a key venue for Kowloon's after work social life. It had several well-known restaurants and also a night club. It also turns out, after a quick googling, that it also had a restaurant with a stage in the middle so that diners could enjoy a live performance whilst they ate. I would love to have seen this place with my own eyes but I guess I will just have to settle for the various photos and the footage in this film that was shot there.

Called the Hotel Miramar Theatre Restaurant, it was an oval shaped room with a balcony and central stage and some rather impressive interior decor. Was this the same room where the Miramar nightclub was? I have no idea, perhaps someone with better knowledge will be able to confirm.

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Tin Hau Temple, Repulse Bay

The baddy, played by Mickey Rooney, is holding the Queen captive at the Tin Hau Temple in Repulse Bay.

If anyone can recognise the refurbished fishing junk in the background of the third picture, feel free to let me know what it was called and what happened to it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Aberdeen Harbour, Aberdeen

There are a few nice shots of Aberdeen in one of the scenes, including a nice oblique angle looking down on the various floating restaurants. The smaller white one I think is perhaps the lesser-known Yue Lee Tai. For some reason - perhaps because of its lack of flamboyant decoration - this floating restaurant doesn't seem to be very well known. For a close up you can check out this link for a picture from an old business card:

For me this is an interesting scene because of the little bald-headed chap in the bottom picture. Kung Fu fans around the world should recognise him instantly because his name is Yuen Siu-tin. Yuen Siu-tin is the father of (amongst others) Yuen Woo-ping - the famous HK film action choreographer. His dad is perhaps equally well-known in later life for playing Beggar So in various late 70's productions such as Drunken Master. Anyway, here he is without all the Beggar So makeup and costume.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Queen's Pier, Central

There is some recent talk about resurrecting the demolished Queen's Pier along the current waterfront. When it was removed to make way for the latest round of reclamation in Central, there were some calls to have it rebuilt in its original position - regardless of the fact it would be landlocked. Personally I think it would be great to get it rebuilt as a working pier rather than having it sitting in the middle of a park as a sun shade, but that's just me.

Anyway, once again this is cropped from the real Royal Visit footage in 1975 and incorporated into this amusing French comedy.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Oi Man Estate, Ho Man Tin

Queen Elizabeth II made a famous stop off at the Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin when she made her royal visit in 1975 and the actual footage of that trip was incorporated fairly seamlessly into the film whereby the imposter Queen (a double brought in to hide the fact that the real one has been kidnapped by Mickey Rooney) enters one of the flats and it's occupied by some scruffy dude wearing only underwear.

I'm not sure which block the Queen is walking along in the third picture, but judging from the current maps she was walking along a section of Kar Man House. Clarifications welcome.

The Oi Man Estate was newly opened at the time of the Queen's trip and was being showcased as the model for Govt housing in HK. It looks like the French film crew returned to the same spot for their own shoot and, actually, even today it looks pretty much the same other than sporting a different paint job. Here's a modern day comparison courtesy of Streetview.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Park Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui

The next location is not the best in terms of visibility because the film only shows it from inside a car looking out but it's worth including because it's still around. It's the Park Hotel on the corner of Cameron and Chatham Road South. The hotel was opened in 1961 and so is only one of a few remaining 60's era hotels that is still around.

In the film the car we are in turns into Cameron Road from Chatham Road South so we see the curved front of the hotel and the lower section that fronts that road.

Here it is on Streetview.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Connaught Road, Central

In a little joke about the quality of the French secret service (known as the SDECE or the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage) there is a scene when two of Les Charlots are looking up at two buildings supposed to be the KGB and CIA agencies. Two rather tall and impressive skyscrapers compared to the shabby buildings occupied by the SDECE in the middle of them both.

The building on the right is still around, although it has since been given a remarkable facelift. It's the Nan Fung Tower (南豐大廈). Sadly, the ramshackle row of shophouses in the middle have since been replaced by CTS House (that is the HQ of the China Travel Service) and the KGB building on the left has been replaced by the naff sounding 'Beautiful Group Tower'.

Just poking through the gap at the back (seen on the right of the SDECE sign in picture 3) is the General Commercial Building at 156 - 164 Des Voeux Road Central. It's still there and STILL painted in those very same colours.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Another view of the Tsim Sha Tsui section of Nathan Road, but this time filmed from the area just adjacent to Kowloon Park.

It's interesting to note the section of wall on the right because this has since been removed to make way for the construction of the Park Lane Shopping Promenade and (further down) the Kowloon Mosque. Thankfully the trees are still around but they have been collapsing at a steady rate for some years now. I'm no expert but I am sure that surrounding a tree with concrete and having only a tiny area at the base where water can actually penetrate the ground is probably not the best way to guarantee their health.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

There's some nice colourful street scenes in this film including this brief look north up Nathan Road near the southern end. You can see the Holiday Inn sign which puts us in familiar tourist territory. Both Mirador Mansion and Chungking Mansions can be seen either side of the Holiday Inn - Chungking Mansions being closer to the camera..

Note the Royal paraphernalia draped on the lamp posts. Don't forget this film was made the same time as the Queen's 1975 trip to HK and utilises a lot of the footage from that for its own plot.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui

Despite authentic footage of the airport entrance being used for the last post, when the film's main stars are waiting for a taxi in front of the 'airport' it's quite obvious the action has moved to the other side of Kowloon and the filmmakers are trying to convince us that Ocean Terminal is in fact part of the airport by sticking a small sign that says so in the background (picture 2).

Never mind, because there are some nice sights to see including the clock tower (when it was still part of the train station) and an advert for a Maxim's restaurant on the side of Star House (top picture, left hand side).

That taxi in the bottom picture is in much better shape than some of the death traps I've ridden in over the past 10 years.