Friday, October 28, 2016

Bamboo in Winter - Crystal Kwok (1991) - Lam Tsuen River, Lam Tsuen

The baptism scenes in Bamboo in Winter were filmed in the Lam Tsuen river in the Lam Tsuen valley - west of Tai Po town but still part of Tai Po District.  

I once spent a month living at a friends house in Lam Tsuen and that was about 4 years after this film was made. A recent visit confirmed to me how much redevelopment has gone on here. The clear view you can see in the film is rare given the number of village houses that have sprung up through the numerous villages that sit inside the valley. However, look carefully and you see Kwun Yam Shan in the background of the second screen grab.

Neil worked as the location manager on this film so I'm sure he might be able to recall the exact spot where the filming occurred, but in the meantime I'm going to make a stab at the location as somewhere around the back of Kau Liu Ha (very near to the Lam Kam Road Interchange) near Ngau Kwu Leng Lane.

Here's a reasonable match on the area courtesy of Streetview taken from the Ngau Kwu Leng Lane bridge.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bamboo in Winter - Crystal Kwok (1991) - Sha Lo Tung, Tai Po

I hadn't heard of this film until Neil Macdonald got in touch and was kind enough to share his memories of the various productions he worked on whilst in Hong Kong (you can read about them here). Anyway, this film was funded by a Christian group and it's basically a religious story about a Chinese girl (played by Crystal Kwok) who find religion and helps her dad rediscover his despite the general nastiness of the local Chinese commies.

Roy Chiao plays the father in this and apparently lent his services free of charge because he was a devout Christian. Some other familiar faces crop up including Dennis Chan and Stuart Ong, both of whom have featured several times before in various productions covered by this blog.

The village which features as the main filming location throughout the film is in fact the (now) relatively abandoned Sha Lo Tung just north of Tai Po town centre. It's well worth a visit of you get the chance and I went hiking there a few years ago. I don't have exact matches for the various screen grabs but there are a few that show similar landmarks.

You can see some of the village buildings below (the one centre right below is the same one that is on the left in the screen shot above) but as you can see, many of the abandoned buildings have since collapsed. Part of the reason is neglect, but I understand that a development company has bought the land in this area and wants to open a spa and golf course, so deliberate vandalism is also a possibility. Although the whole area is referred to as Sha Lo Tung, the actual village in question is one of several and is called Cheung Uk.

At the top of the service road that leads from Ting Kok Road to the village is a rain shelter that is also seen on film, albeit in much better condition back in 1991.

The whole place is located on what is basically a large plateau that sits in the mountains in Tai Po. The scenery is actually quite stunning and several hiking routes cross the area including the Wilson Trail and the Tai Po Country Trail. It's not quite the same angle but you can see a reasonable match between the film still and my own picture at the bottom. These hills are all inside the Pat Sin Leng Country Park.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Vengeance of Fu Manchu - Christopher Lee (1967) - Rocky Harbour, Sai Kung

A brief scene on board a junk (heading to Fu Manchu's secret hideout) was filmed in the north part of Port Shelter, more correctly known as Rocky Harbour. It's the same part of the area that was used by the makers of The Sand Pebbles the previous year.

Click on the above link to see a similar angle on the Sai Kung mountains in the distance. The two peaks on the right are actually the Sai Kung view of the Ma On Shan "saddle".

I also found another quick snippet from the film that was filmed in the Rocky Harbour area, but this time looking south from the shoreline.

This is the view from the shore near to where the Chong Hing Watersport Centre now sits on High Island's West Dam. In the view above we are looking more or less directly south between Tai Tau Chau (on the right) and High Island on the left. The hills in the belong to Jin Island and Kau Sai Chau. There's an almost perfect match up to the view on this panoramic shot taken from the Astropark courtesy of Wong Chi-chuen.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Vengeance of Fu Manchu - Christopher Lee (1967) - Tai Mo Shan Road, Tai Mo Shan

Back to Hong Kong's highest peak for this next post. This time we are on Tai Mo Shan Road - a small service road that creep east up to the peak from Route Twisk. Actually, this road still forms part of the Maclehose Trail but the tail end of Stage 8. It's on the steeper part of the hill as we approach the summit.

We' re here this time because of an obvious landmark in the background of some of the screen caps. It's Kwun Yam Shan that stands at the west end of the Lam Tsuen valley and is notable for its very steep and pointy peak.

You can't see it from here, but on the other side of that pointy hill is the Kadoorie Farm and you can actually reach the top of the hill via a footpath inside the farm. Anyway, although in the film we see Kwun Yam Shan from various angles, this shot looks to have been filmed from a viewing/picnic area not far up the road called the Tai Mo Shan Lookout.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Vengeance of Fu Manchu - Christopher Lee (1967) - Shing Mun Reservoir, Tsuen Wan

It's a very quick scene but there is also some action around Shing Mun Reservoir as the rescue party ride their horses through the forest towards Fu Manchu's hidden temple. In the top picture the reservoir dam wall is actually hidden between the slopes above the actors' heads.

I hope to feature Shing Mun Reservoir more extensively when I take a look (sometime soon) at King Hu's classic The Valiant Ones because some key scenes in that film were shot there.

The Vengeance of Fu Manchu - Christopher Lee (1967) - Shaws Movietown Temple Set, Clearwater Bay

Well, back to normal service and here is the same temple set seen a little later in The Vengeance of Fu Manchu. You'll notice that for this film they superimposed some rather spectacular looking mountains in the background (in reality, the back of Movietown is/was just open sea). I'm still trying to figure out where that ridge line is from, I'm sure it will pop up later at some point. In the meantime...

Note Razor Hill in the background of this lower picture proving that we are indeed in Clearwater Bay and not the Chinese hinterland. The hill is due (almost) west from the former Movietown site.

The Million Eyes of Sumuru - George Nader (1967) - Shaws Movietown Temple Set, Clearwater Bay

I'm in the process of going through The Vengeance of Fu Manchu and was just about to post about the temple set when I realised I had neglected to post the same location for The Million Eyes of Sumuru. So here it is. This set used to stand around where the Clearwater Bay ESF school currently stands near to the entrance to Movietown.

Incidentally, if you are a member of Facebook, you can see a picture of this set at the following link within the Hong Kong in the '60s group (well worth joining for some nice pictures of HK). The owner of the photo (Brian Avery) puts the date at either 1966 or 1967. Given the state the place is in I suspect it was before these films were made, so more likely 1966. But there is enough detail in the picture to see it is the same set and of course, those are the Shaw dormitories at the back.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Vengeance of Fu Manchu - Christopher Lee (1967) - Maclehose Trail Stage 9, Tai Mo Shan

So-called 'white washing' and 'yellow face' has been in the movie news of late (just look up any of the criticisms - valid or otherwise - of Birth of the Dragon, The Great Wall and Ghosts in the Shell), so what better time than now to break out one of the earlier offenders of this by looking at The Vengeance of Fu Manchu. The titular character being played by a 'yellow face' Christopher Lee.

In this film (made in 1966/67 at the same time as the other Harry Alan Towers-produced films Five Golden Dragons and The Million Eyes of Sumuru) Fu Manchu dreams up an evil scheme to kidnap his arch enemy and frame him for a murder.

The film crew did a great job at portraying Hong Kong as an isolated area of the Chinese hinterland by using some rarely used locations around the slopes of Tai Mo Shan - Hong Kong's largest peak. The seeming remoteness of the locations is cleverly achieved by wandering a short distance up and down the hillside from Route Twisk. In this particular location, which happens to be the opening scene, the film crew had to walk about 2 km along a dust track that went on to become part of Stage 9 of the Maclehose Trail.

If you are wondering about the exact location then you should enter these coordinates (2°24'0.31"N 114° 5'23.07"E)  to get a good idea of where it is. It's about 2km from Route Twisk (heading east) just past where the trail splits inside Tai Lam Country Park as Stage 9 continues northeast (the other section heads south east towards a place called Lin Fa Shan). I did cobble together a nicely stitched panorama which you can click on to view in better detail.

Sadly, no Streetview here because it's all trail and no car access. But looking at the odd photo I have seen the whole place is now verdant with tree growth so the views are no longer open. I'll try and get up there to grab some pictures for comparison over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sunset - Paul Chin Pei (1971) - Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui

One final delve into the Sunset vaults before I move on to the next film. This one is fairly incidental and I wouldn't have bothered for the fact that we catch a quick glimpse of the Park Hotel on the corner of Chatham and Cameron. The view is through a windscreen as well (very similar to this shot from Bons Baisers De Hong Kong) so the view is only fleeting and a bit dark. The hotel (which is still around by the way) is the one with the vertical slats behind the rear view mirror.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Sunset - Paul Chin Pei (1971) - Tai Wo Ping Road, Tai Wo Ping

The very first scene in Sunset is a sequence taken from a car as it drives around a sharp curve in a road. At the time I had no idea where it could be and the sequence is so short I really just forgot about it until I went back to redo the screen captures.

When I first looked at Sunset it was when I was still living in Tai Po back in 2011, but since moving to Kowloon in 2012 many places are now familiar including this one. The reason is because I walk down this very same stretch of road everyday as I take my son to school in Cheung Sha Wan. It's quite strange to see what it looked like all those years ago (in fact, before I was born...just).

Here is the sequence.

The flyover in the distance is the old Tai Wo Ping Interchange that joined Lung Cheung Road (coming down from the right) onto the westbound lane of Tai Po Road. The road the camera is on (according to an aerial photograph of the area) connected Lung Cheung Road onto the eastbound side of Tai Po Road by way of a rather sharp hairpin bend just beyond the view of the camera (though if you look closely you can see a small hint of the bend on the lower right of the last screencap).

I honestly had no idea that the road I had been walking on every day once served this purpose. The existence of the HKWW Salt water pumping station (built 1967, see below) at the end of the current road made me think it was just a service road for that building. These days that's all it is anyway (although it also often serves as an illegal parking zone for tired truckers) and we use it to walk down the side of the Chak On Estate to access a pedestrian bridge that takes us onto the other side of Tai Po Road.

Anyway, on the way to pick up my son from school yesterday I took a few moments to capture what it looks like now. On the right is the HKWW Salt Water pumping station (dated 1967) whose wall can be seen in the top screen grab on the right.

The crash barriers mark the end of the current road and where the old section was removed. On the left is a square concrete hole that is actually a common form of structure covering a turn in the gutter (it stops the water splashing out all over the road). Comparing it to the top screen grab you can see it was there back in 1971 and shows how much more of the slope was cut away when the flyover in front was built. The view beyond has changed drastically as well because the old H blocks of the Li Cheng Uk estate have been replaced by high rise versions.

The picture below shows the old wall I was just talking about, but also what happened to where the road once turned down. It was all chopped away to make space for the flyover.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sunset - Paul Chin Pei (1971) - Gloucester Road, Hong Kong

Another interesting background location I found after re-watching Sunset is the scene when the two stars go on a boat trip and have a bit of a heart to heart. The start of the sequence shows a junk riding through Victoria Harbour. Look closely at the background though and you can see the buildings along Gloucester Road when it occupied prime waterfront.

Two buildings stand out, the first one is the Rediffusion one on the left. It stood at 77-79 Gloucester Road (now the Fortis Tower Building). But to the right is the Luk Kwok Hotel with the SANYO sign on the roof. This is the same place that gave Richard mason inspiration for his seedy Nam Kok Hotel in his novel The World of Suzie Wong. The Luk Kwok Hotel still sits in the same place today but it is modern replacement, rebuilt in the late 80's.

There is a similar, though earlier, picture of this view on

Sunset - Paul Chin Pei (1971) - Lung Cheung Road, Kowloon

It's been several years since I covered the locations for this film and it was also done while I was still living in Taipo. Now I've been in Kowloon for the past four years it's a good time to go back and 1. update the screen grabs and 2. suss out some of the locations I couldn't get the first time round. You can see the newly updated (screen grabs from a DVD rather than the VCD version I initially used) posts here.

Here's a great example of a missed location. It's the section of Lung Cheung Road that runs past the north end of Kowloon Tong.

This part of Kowloon hasn't really changed at all and all the buildings you can see on screen are still there and fairly unchanged. The main building in the top picture, alongside the road, is Pearl Court. Built around 1966 it's one of the older buildings in this area but not by much as most of this estate was completed by around 1970. Compared to today's shoebox flats these older buildings had much higher ceilings and more space and tend to still go for a tidy sum.

Far right of picture two is the edge of Beverly Heights, a name that should be familiar with Bruce Lee fans because it's where he died about 2 years after this film was made. The yellow podium next to it belongs to Chermain Heights which sits on the opposite side of Beacon Hill Road.

The playground (called Lung Cheung Playground) is also still there but now the view is interrupted by sound barriers and tree growth.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Push - Chris Evans (2009) - Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay

I think this is the final post on Push for a while until I can track down some of the more incidental places that crop up throughout the film. It's just a brief glimpse of Yee Wo Street looking towards the SOGO department store. You can just about make out the blue SOGO emblem on the right hand side of the second picture. 

Push - Chris Evans (2009) - Edinburgh Place, Central

The car park at Edinburgh Place in Central has featured in plenty of films covered on this blog dating as far back as the 1970's. Sadly, it sound as though the future of the car park is no longer assured and there have been murmurs about the space being redeveloped. So, before that happens, here's another view from the top floor looking towards the HSBC building and back the other way towards the harbour.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Push - Chris Evans (2009) - Gough Street, Central

As a plan starts to form the intrepid good guys bid their farewells at the corner of Gough Street and Aberdeen Street. The building in the background of the top picture is Tung Tze Terrace at #6 Aberdeen Street.

Here's the Streetview below.