Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shanghai Surprise - Madonna (1986) - Tseng Tau Tsuen, Sai Kung

There's a large section of the film filmed on the beach next to a rather picturesque body of water. It turns out that the water in question belongs to Three Fathoms Cove in north Sai Kung. It looks as though the production crew went to some effort to build some rather nice looking adornments to a wooden jetty as well as some other buildings nearby.

The island in the back of the second picture above is called Wu Chau and the one in the picture immediately below with the bump on the right is to its north and is called Sam Pui Chau. It's quite a distinctive shape as you can see.

 The wooden pier used in the film looks like it still exists - minus the Chinese style embellishment - and looks as though it is now private and used by a nearby organic farm. Sadly, there is no Streetview for this particular neck of the woods, but plenty of pictures from people posted on Panoramio. The best one I can find is embedded below courtesy of thinsing, so many thanks to them for sharing their nice photos. If you view all their photos around there you will see most of the stuff in the film grans above.

Furthermore, there is a brief scene where Penn's character finds himself stranded in a remote area and flags down and convenient passing taxi. Although it has drastically changed with village house development (the Tseng Tau village mentioned in the title seems to have expanded considerably since filming was completed), there is still a small strip of road leading out of the village and it looks like this is where the following scene was filmed - with Three Fathoms Cove still in the background.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Shanghai Surprise - Madonna (1986) - Rua do Guimaraes, Macau

Over to Macau for a brief visit to the Hotel Cantao on Rua do Guimaraes. In the film, Penn is put up at a hotel called the Penang Hotel and a fair bit of action seems to have been filmed here. In reality the building was an old dilapidated hotel called the "Hotel Cantao" (i.e. Hotel Canton) and has a fair bit of history to share. Here are the grabs.

View along the side of the building

Inside the lobby

Up until just a few years ago this building was once again falling into disrepair and was all boarded up - you can check out Streetview to see - but during my last visit to Macau in July 2015 I walked past here and noticed it has been renovated and turned into what looked like a very stylish cafe. Sadly I didn't have time to venture in but will try to next trip.

After digging around a bit I found a few Portuguese articles that noted the hotel held the very first congress of the PCV (Communist Party of Vietnam) quite soon after it was founded. It seems that the location of the hotel (in an alleyway behind the vastly more notorious Grand Hotel - see here) was more conducive to secrecy than elsewhere and rightly so because at this meeting, held in 1935, various aspects of the party's ideological founding came to fruition. It was at this meeting that the part y statutes were formalised, as well as the call for the mobilization of various parts of society: workers, women, youth, ethnic minorities, soldiers to form militias to fight against the French. It was also at this meeting that the party central committee was elected (with Lee Hong Phon as the secretary general) and Ho Chi Minh himself was elected to be the Vietnamese representative to the Comintern. So you see, quite a significant meeting in world history for such a small establishment.

The picture below was taken in July 2015.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Nathan Road, Mongkok

I'm currently revamping my Noble House posts and have also revisited some of the things I missed off the last time. I've also changed the date to 1988 because it appears that's when it was released in the US. However, the missing Standard Chartered Bank in many shots around Central actually place the filming at 1987 at the latest.

Anyway, here is one from Nathan Road in Mongkok that clearly shows a neon sign advertising the South China Theatre. It also happens to be one of the location seen in the red-coloured opening credits with Gordon Jackson's face superimposed over the top.

A quick look on the trusty Cinema Treasures website reveals that the South China Theatre was situated at 174 Portland St in Mongkok (the next road over). So this view is facing north and is where Soy Street intersects with Nathan Rd. Here is the current Streetview. Notice that the Crocodile shop was replaced by...surprise surprise...a jewelers.

The cinema, by the way, closed down in 2005 and was replaced by a short-lived mall called Tokyo Town. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Shanghai Surprise - Madonna (1986) - Kowloon Walled City, Kowloon

Another site that seems to have satisfied the film makers with regards to being dilapidated enough to represent old Shanghai is the Kowloon Walled City. We don't get to see inside the "city", but the ramshackle illegal tenements that formed the outer walls of the place can be seen in the background of the next scene along with the shaved hillside at the back of the Tung Tau Tsuen Road.

The buildings at the back used to form part of the western edge of the slum which would put the filming action pretty much in the centre of today's adjoining Carpenter Road Park near (or perhaps on) the site of the Kowloon City Plaza mall (it was built in 1993).

Friday, May 27, 2016

Shanghai Surprise - Madonna (1986) - Catchick Street, Kennedy Town

The following screengrab seems to just be one of those very brief snippets that serve to illustrate the surrounding environment of the story. I'm sure there is a technical term for this type of thing but I am ignorant in those ways and so will just refer to it as an "establishing" shot. Feel free to enlighten me otherwise if you know.

Anyway, it's a brief look down a seemingly old road in old Shanghai. In fact it was also shot in Kennedy Town along Catchick Street close to the junction with North Street. In fact the modern Streetview capture shows us that a tram stop has since been built but the more observant of you should also see that the red signs above the shop on the right are still the same.

The old block of buildings on the corner in the background have all been redeveloped into somewhere called the "Harbour View Garden". I'm guessing if you live on lower floors your harbour view may be more along the lines of "harbour no view".

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Shanghai Surprise - Madonna (1986) - Kennedy Town Waterfront, Hong Kong

It's changed significantly over the past few decades, but back in 1986 Kennedy Town waterfront was still considered aged enough for the purpose of filming this period set comedy. Most of the old buildings seem to have gone and there has been a proliferation of high rise development making identification of the exact place quite difficult. However, the hills at the back as well as the appearance of Green Island in the background confirms where this was shot.

The hillside in the background of the top grab is actually the eastern flank of Mount Davis and the small hump in the back of the lower two pictures is Green Island. The modern view for comparison is below courtesy of Streetview. It shows the New Praya where I am fairly certain this was filmed, however, pretty much all of the waterfront property here has been redeveloped in the past 20 years.

Shanghai Surprise - Madonna (1986) - Estrada de Cacilhas, Macau

Despite getting universally panned on release and failing dismally at the box office, Shanghai Surprise is worth watching for HK film fans because it includes lots of locations, some never seen on the blog before. We kick off proceedings with the opening scene shot around the Taipa Houses museum in Macau. If you've never been it is a recommended excursion to catch some breeze along what was then a waterfront location - now landlocked due to the unbelievably tacky and naff Cotai strip reclamation with all its resort casinos.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kickboxer - Jean Claude Van Damme (1989) - Nai Chung, Ma On Shan

I guess this are should be considered as Sai Kung district rather than Ma On Shan, but seeing as the latter is the closer town I shall leave it for the time being. Besides, a few years later the very same spot (almost) was used in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Coincidentally, in both films the area is supposed to be in Thailand. In Dragon, it was the substitute for Pak Chong and in Kickboxer it is the Thai village that Van Damme is sent to for groceries by Dennis Chan (Chan is by far the best thing in this film).

I think the production team behind Kickboxer did a better job at hiding the nearby village compared to when Dragon was filmed here. The open ground where this was filmed appears to still be there.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kickboxer - Jean Claude Van Damme (1989) - Jat Incline, Kowloon Peak

Despite featuring a large section shot in Thailand, Kickboxer was also filmed in Hong Kong which stood in for rural Thailand on a couple of occasions. The first brief glimpse is a shot of Taylor's (played by the Haskell V. Anderson III) battered old blue Toyota HIACE threading its way along a thin mountain road.

Rather than rural Thailand we are, in fact, looking at Jat Incline - a small road that runs on the south side of the Kowloon mountain range. Believe it or not if the camera were to pan right you would be presented with urban Hong Kong in its full high-rise concrete glory. The Streetview below gives a rough approximation of the camera's viewpoint. The hill at the far end with the pole on it is actually the summit of Fei Ngo Shan (i.e. Kowloon Peak).

For some reason most maps seem to list this road as the possessive 'Jat's Incline', but actually its proper name is just 'Jat Incline'.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Countess from Hong Kong - Sophia Loren (1967) - Former Kowloon Docks, Tsim Sha Tsui

Another notable glimpse of the real Hong Kong from this film is a quick view of the wooden pier that used to occupy the spot now taken up by Ocean Terminal. It shows a large cruise ship at dock - the one that all the subsequent action is supposed to take place on - which can just be identified as the SS President Wilson.

We know that this film was released in 1967 which means it was most likely filmed either earlier that year or sometime in 1966. The problem is that Ocean Terminal also opened in 1966 (on the 22nd March according to wiki), quite early on in the year. So either the limited HK locations on this film were shot a couple of years earlier or the film was perhaps some unused footage shot for another movie and incorporated into this one. My gut tells me that the HK images we see on film were licensed from someone else - there is just too little footage to justify spending money on a separate film crew to capture some brief scenes.

Well anyway, if you look at the screen grab below taken from the beginning of The World of Suzie Wong (the original post can be seen here), it's interesting to note that it shows the very same ship berthed at the very same wooden pier - you can even see the curved canopy that runs along the centre of the pier.

The World of Suzie Wong (1960)

I wonder if anyone out there knows how often the SS President Wilson used to berth at Hong Kong in the 1960's? It seems to have been a regular visitor and was eventually bought by CY Tung anyway.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Countess from Hong Kong - Sophia Loren (1967) - Sun Ya Hotel, Mongkok

A Countess from Hong Kong, starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren, only features a couple of short snippets of Hong Kong despite its title. The rest of the film is set on a cruise ship and was thus filmed entirely in the studio. Never mind, because we get a couple of decent locations including this one at what was 639 Nathan Road close to the junction with Argyle Street.

You can just make out the hotel name behind the string of lights on the lower left, but look closely at the background and you can also see the old neon sign for the Broadway Cinema that sat on the corner of Nathan and Argyle St. It was later replaced by the HSBC building that still stands there. It ceased operations in 1966 which means that this little bit of footage was possibly filmed just before its closure.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Lord Jim - Peter O'Toole (1965) - East Lamma Channel

Judging from the screen grabs I have, the sea-based scenes in Lord Jim were filmed all over the territory. The pictures below from quite early on (when Jim is on his first posting) were filmed just south of Hong Kong Island in the East Lamma Channel - it's the strip of water that separates Lamma Island from Hong Kong Island.

The prominent hill in the background is High West on Hong Kong Island. Look carefully just below it and you can see a small island, Magazine Island, that marks the western entrance of Aberdeen Harbour.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The World of Suzie Wong - William Holden (1960) - Hung Shing Temple, Ap Lei Chau

You can tell I am currently on a blitz of forgotten locations, right? Here is one from The World of Suzie Wong that I only really discovered a short while ago. Basically, the reason for these old posts is that I have been revisiting stuff with my current level of knowledge of these places and it's revealing how much I used to miss when I first started out with this blog.

Anyway, just before the couple head to the Tai Pak for their lunch, they head to Aberdeen and Lomax is seen painting/drawing. Look carefully at the following screen caps and you'll see that the actors are on the Ap Lei Chau side of the harbour.

The top picture shows the view looking to the west from Ap Lei Chau. The temple on the left is the very historical Hung Shing Temple on the Ap Lei Chau waterfront. It's thought to be the oldest temple in the area and is now a protected monument. Looking at modern pictures I would say the roof has undergone a renovation recently but it is definitely the same place despite the tidying up of the harbourfront.

The lower picture, from the same sequence, shows Holden sketching Suzie and we can see that this is also on the Ap Lei Chau side because you can just make out the old Aberdeen Police Station in the extreme top right of the picture on the other side of the harbour.