Thursday, 26 January 2017

Vanishing Son 2 - Russell Wong (1994) - Yuen Yuen Institute, Tsuen Wan

Vanishing Son 2 picks up where the last film left off and this time treats Wong's character as some sort of wandering Bruce Banner type character (I'm talking of the Bill Bixby days) who doesn't go looking for trouble but is ready to step up when it appears. 99% of this film is set and filmed in the US, but there is a single flashback scene filmed at one of the first film's Hong Kong locations - the Yuen Yuen Institute. It looks as though all four films in this TV movie series were filmed back-to-back.

Vanishing Son - Russell Wong (1994) - Tao Fung Shan, Shatin

Vanishing Son was a TV movie made (but not directed) by Rob Cohen. It follows a couple of brothers who escape to America following the 1989 post-massacre crackdowns. The lead is Russell Wong, a virtuoso violinist and kung fu expert trying his best to look after his brother and himself. Although largely filmed in the states, the beginning of the film is set in China and has a couple of sequences filmed in Hong Kong. The film also features Vivian Wu as one of Wong's student peers.

The first scene is our introduction to Russell as he practices his violin in "Beijing". In fact it is Tao Fung Shan in Shatin. Rob Cohen plays his violin teacher in the scene and it's no surprise when you consider that Cohen himself used the very same location the previous year for filming of some scenes in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.

We've also seen this place stand in as Beijing in Noble House.

Vanishing Son - Russell Wong (1994) - Yuen Yuen Institute, Tsuen Wan

The second Hong Kong location seen in Vanishing Son is the Yuen Yuen Institute located up in the hills above Tsuen Wan. This is the locations of Russell Wong's kung fu school run by his formidable master in the form of John Cheung. Cheung you may or may nor remember played Johnny Sun in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story as well as serving as the film's fight choreographer.

Here's a couple of shots from my visit there a few years ago when I seem to have inadvertently taken pictures almost matching the same angles of a couple of the screen shots above! Don't forget that Chiu Chi-ling was also filmed there many years ago performing some Hung gar forms.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Sand Pebbles - Steve McQueen (1966) - Tolo Channel, Tai Po

The fact that we now know that the film crew made the effort to take the purpose built (but flat bottomed) boat San Pablo around the Sai Kung peninsula and into Tolo Channel - because that's the only way you can get to Three Fathoms Cove - means that it is highly likely some scenes were also filmed around the Tolo Channel area itself. And so it turns out to be because there is this shot showing the boat moving "down river" when it is in fact heading out to sea along the channel.

How do we know? Look in the distance (2nd and 3rd pictures) and you can see Port Island lying at the eastern entrance to Tolo Channel. The headland in the background is all part of Plover Cove Country Park.

 You can also see Port Island in background of this shot as McQueen comes out of the cabin.

The Sand Pebbles - Steve McQueen (1966) - Three Fathoms Cove, Sai Kung

I recently re-watched The Sand Pebbles because I feel that the more I do this the easier it is to recognise places. Plus I was inspired by my very first visit to High Island Reservoir where some of the other scenes were filmed. My revisit was rewarded with a surprise because I noticed one of the scenes was filmed in Three Fathoms Cove in the northern part of Sai Kung.

The scene is one fairly near to the beginning of the film when the boat encounters some bandits firing at them from a small islet in the middle of the "river". In reality the river is Three Fathoms Cove and the small islet is the very distinctively triple hat-shaped Sam Pui Chau at the northern end of the cove. We have seen it on this blog quite recently because Madonna and Sean Penn filmed scenes nearby for Shanghai Surprise (scroll down to the third screen grab on that page and you can see the islet on the left hand side).

Here is what it looks like in The Sand Pebbles.

The screen grabs quite clearly show the three bumps (or "cups" as the Cantonese name suggests) that give Sam Pui Chau its name. The the lowest picture you can see an island in the background. This is Ma Shi Chau near Plover Cove.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Ultraviolet - Milla Jovovich (2006) - Clarence Studios, Shek Kong

To round up this quick and easy set of locations from Ultraviolet here is one that wouldn't be obvious unless you worked on the film. I have Jude Poyer (of Reel Power Stunts) to thank for this post as it was he who clued me in as to where it was shot. Jude should know because he played the part of one of the sword-wielding hemophages that attack Violet inside the Church. It's a scene that has elements clearly taken from a Lone Wolf and Cub film - if you're familiar you'll know what I mean - but has some cracking sword play.

Jude Poyer,  Danial Donai and Daniel Whyte

The church interior, supposedly within the Parsee Cemetery, was filmed in a small film studio called 嘉龍片場 (Ga Lung Pin Cheung) or Clarence Studios to give its English name. I had never heard of this place but Jude tells me he filmed various TV commercials there when he was based in HK as well as a few scenes from the The Medallion.

Anyway, if you're a film fan and ever want to go over and have a nose it is along the Kam Tin Road near the Shek Kong airfield. You can't miss it because it has a massive great big dinosaur skull at the entrance. Anyway, once again many thanks to Jude.

Ultraviolet - Milla Jovovich (2006) - Parsee Cemetery, Happy Valley

After the rebel hemophages take the boy "Six" to kill him, Violet (Jovovich) follows them to a cemetery. It's not shown on screen but the large masonry arch is the entrance to the Parsee cemetery in Happy Valley.

I haven't been to this particular cemetery yet (I've only visited the Muslim and Jewish ones - both very interesting to wander around), so I can only assume the scenes following were filmed inside the same cemetery. I'll make an effort and wander over to confirm at a later date.

Ultraviolet - Milla Jovovich (2006) - Connaught Road Central Walkway, Central

Anyone who has used the walkway over to Jardine House in Central should be able to recognise this spot. It's the steps that lead down to the south side of the building. You can see the Exchange Square building on the right as well as The Centre in the background.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Ultraviolet - Milla Jovovich (2006) - Ferry Point Estate, Yau Ma Tei

William Fichtner turns up in a few scenes with a hi-tech lorry container kitted out with medical equipment. The first time we see him he is parked on a bit of grassland next to the Ferry Point Estate in Yau Ma Tei.

Ultraviolet - Milla Jovovich (2006) - Convention Avenue, Wanchai

Although shot in 2004 in Shanghai and Hong Kong, the film wasn't released until 2006 and it was received so badly it effectively ended Kurt Wimmer's directing career (even though it appears to have eventually broken even). It's a big shame because because the film contains some decent action set pieces.

Sadly there are only a few scenes shot in HK. it seems most was done in Shanghai or computer generated but we get to see a few recognisable places. The first of which is along Convention Avenue in Wanchai as the opening sequence goes through its story preamble. The wall on the right belongs to the Renaissance Harbourview Hotel.

Shadow of China - John Lone (1989) - Aldrich Bay Typhoon Shelter, Shau Kei Wan

One of the last locations on this film for us is this quick trip over to Shau Kewi Wan and the typhoon shelter in Aldrich Bay. This is a good way to illustrate the colour difference between the laserdisc and VHS versions of the film.

The building under construction at the back is "Felicity Garden" opened in 1990. The big space on the right with the wooden hoarding in the lower picture is the future site of the Eastern Magistracy. The section of water you can see was also eventually reclaimed and now has The HK island branch of Munsang College and a new development called "Les Saisons".

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Shadow of China - John Lone (1989) - Dragon Garden, Castle Peak Road

Dragon Garden rears its head again as it is used as the home of Henry's main rival, played by Roy Chiao. We don't really get to see the garden sculptures and instead see the famous pool (Chew Me?), circular terrace and house at the back. I still honestly have no idea if this place is now open to the public so if someone can point me in the direction of some information, it would be appreciated.

Shadow of China - John Lone (1989) - Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun

Some more driving around in Neil's old Jag (actually, Neil has told me he still has the car - he shipped it back to the UK when he moved there and it has been languishing in his garage for the last 10 years waiting for some love and attention), this time along Queen's Road West. I used to refer to as Sheung Wan but since the opening of the new MTR station the whole area now appears to actually be part of Sai Ying Pun...not that there is any discernible difference these days.

In the following shots you can spot the "Sammy's Kitchen" sign. It's the brown cow hidden slightly in the film grab but quite obvious in Streetview underneath. Sadly, the sign recently became a victim of the HK Govt's rather selective enforcement of building laws and was removed. Obviously Sammy lacked the personal friends needed to help him get it overlooked.

Quite a few of the buildings are still around. The only major change is the aforementioned Sai Ying Pun MTR station that now has an entrance onto Queen's Road up where the first film grab was filmed (you can see the construction work in the Streetview picture). It's been open since March 2015.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Shadow of China - John Lone (1989) - Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay

Here is a street corner we have seen from various angles over the course of several films. It's the junction with Percival Street along Hennessy Road. We were looking at it from the opposite angle (i.e. looking south down Percival Street) only a few posts ago. This time we are looking at it from the point of view along Percival Street looking north back towards Hennessy.

As you can see from the Streetview grab below the Fotomax sign has since been replaced by a Tom Lee advert but note that the Tai Woo Seafood Restaurant sign on the right (in the film grab) can still be seen in the Streetview picture. Incidentally, this is the same corner that Thomas was able to locate for Emmanuelle 2 a couple of years back with the Rolex and Tudor adverts below the Tom Lee sign.

After turning into Percival Street we see the car (incidentally, this was Neil's personal Mark 2 Jaguar that he lent to the production company) drive south and pass some of the signs we saw on the earlier Percival Street post.

Shadow of China - John Lone (1989) - Elevated Road above Hill Road, Shek Tong Tsui

Although seemingly nameless, this elevated road sits directly above Hill Road and connects Pok Fu Lam Road with Connaught Road West. I've alternated screen captures with Streetview images so you can see the changes that have happened since 1989. In the first comparison you can see that the low rise "Tong Lau" (i.e. Chinese tenements) have been replaced by the Shek Tong Tsui Municipal Services Building on the right.

A little further down the road, around the bend and you can see that there has been some new development in the form of high-rises. Most noticeable is "Hill Court" on the left of the already existing "Goa Building" (directly ahead at the bend).  The Goa Building is the one with the brown trim in the Streetview picture below with Hill Court next to it. Not only that but the empty space on the left has also been well and truly blocked up by the construction of the massive "The Belchers".

Finally towards the end of the road (before it makes a final right hand bend onto the eastbound side of Connaught Road West). Actually, not much change and although it looks as though the stripey Hong Kong Plaza building has been removed at the end of the road, in fact it has just been obscured by the newer construction of the Pacific Plaza Building which can be seen at the end of the buildings on the right hand side of the road.