Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Heroin Busters - Fabio Testi (1977) - Centre Street, Sai Ying Pun

More street wanderings as Testi is filmed walking down Centre Street when it still had a street market. These days the road has recently been upgraded by having an escalator constructed on one side. The market has gone, as have most of the old buildings.

The Heroin Busters - Fabio Testi (1977) - Jordan Road, Kowloon

We are also treated to some neon street signs as Testi wanders around. One of the signs is the Millie's Centre sign that used to be on the Everest Building on the corner of Jordan Road and Nathan Road.

The most recent Streetview shot shows that this place is now occupied by a (surprise surprise) jewellery shop. If anyone can remember what Millie's used to sell, please let me know in the comments.

There is also an earlier bit of the same scene that looks to have been filmed further along the road towards the junction with Temple Street because it looks as though the Liberty Theatre can be seen in the background (showing Rocky!) which puts the filming year of The Heroin Busters firmly in 1977 (Rocky was released in HK on May 19th, 1977).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Heroin Busters - Fabio Testi (1977) - Hollywood Road, Hong Kong

As Testi wanders around collecting his bags of powder, another of is pick ups is inside the famous Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road.

I'm curious about the dome in the background of the first shot. Testi enters Hollywood Road from an alleyway which seems to correspond to where the western edge of today's park opposite the temple (directly south of Yu Hing Lane). I wonder if anyone can recall what the dome was part of. I did think it may have been the roof of the old Central Theatre but the timeline doesn't fit (this film was made after it was demolished) and besides, it's the wrong shape. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Heroin Busters - Fabio Testi (1977) - Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong

The Heroin Busters (Italian name: La via della droga) is an Italian crime film starring Fabio Testi. Testi seems to be an appropriate name for this former stuntman because he really chucks himself around in this film, it's a solid action film. He plays an undercover cop infiltrating an international drug ring and so the film has various scenes shot at various locations around the world. Hong Kong plays a brief role at the beginning as Testi wanders around the streets picking up bags of heroin to smuggle back to Italy. One of the locations of his pickups is a boat in Aberdeen Harbour.

The first view is a nice panning shot that shows the old waterfront on the left and the Tai Pak on the right.

But we get a few of those boat level views that film makers used to love sticking into their films.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Contagion - Matt Damon (2011) - Gate 47, Hong Kong International Airport

Taking a quick break (as opposed to the 3 week stay in Taipei I just returned from last week) has reminded me of this location I neglected to post all those moons ago when I was posting about Contagion. Anyway, a familiar sight to anyone who has left HK via Chek Lap Kok airport. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Lion Rock, Kowloon

Golgo finally gets his man as he attempts to flee his impenetrable fortress island. Golgo has sneakily climbed up to the top of a nearby hill and is dangling from ropes as he lines up a shot for the bad guy's fleeing helicopter.

In reality the peak is in fact, Lion Rock, and it really looks like Chiba went the whole distance and was personally hung up on there just for this scene. So, big props to the man from Japan. One of the last times we saw this rock was when Aussie stunt supremo, Grant Page, did an impressive forward facing rappel down it for Kung Fu Killers back in 1974.

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Bethanie, Pok Fu Lam

The diplomat is hiding away in a rather nice looking Gothic building where he is protected by his sidekick, Gaston (played by long time Hong Konger Bill Lake). The building is in fact a former sanitarium called Bethanie and is still located down in Pok Fu Lam on the west coast of Hong Kong Island. These days it is part of the HK Academy for Performing Arts and often used for student recitals, but it is also possible to visit as a tourist. It's been cleaned up since this film was made and looks to have had some of the decoration removed from the top of some walls. For a nice modern day comparison, check out Andi's recent blog post here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Ninepins, Sai Kung

The main establishing shot used for illustrating the island where Golgo's enemy is hiding is a long shot of the Ninepin group of islands that lie in the far southeast of Hong Kong's waters. It also happens to be one of my favourite dive spots in HK so I am quite familiar with the location. 

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - St Paul's Church Facade, Macau

The ultimate target of Golgo's wrath is a slippery diplomat who takes refuge on an island fortress. The film wants us to believe that the island is somewhere near Macau so we are presented with some establishing shots of the famous church facade and some views from the nearby fort. I suspect it's stock footage but you never know.

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Repulse Bay Hotel, Repulse Bay

There is a brief scene that appears to have been filmed in the garden of The Repulse Bay Hotel as Golgo's rather pompous British client talks to him about his predicament. Pity we don't get to see the rest of the building, but perhaps it was filmed without permission?

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Garden Road, Central

Some car action around Central takes in some of the sites along Garden Road including the US Consulate and the old Govt offices East Wing where the road joins with Lower Albert Road. The interesting thing about the Consulate is that in the 1977 it still had the external balconies - no doubt removed for security purposes and to give the place a rather more imposing appearance.

Looking up (south) Garden Road
The old front of the US Consulate

The view to Lower Albert Road and East Wing

Looking down (north).

You can just catch a glimpse of the Murray Building's columns in the lower picture. This former office block is currently being turned into a hotel.

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Chinese Permanent Cemetery, Tsuen Wan

This is where the gang boss is buried after being assassinated at the swimming pool opening ceremony. Golgo was trying to kill him but was beaten to it by a female assassin hired by the man's mistress.

I'm fairly certain this is Tsuen Wan cemetery because of the proximity to water and the terracing in the background. Also, this place seems to be the easiest for film makers to use (maybe because it has a road running through the middle of it).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - View from Checkerboard Hill, Kowloon

Checkerboard Hill was once a favourite vantage point for viewing planes flying in on their approach to Kai Tak. The hill sits on the northern end of Kowloon Tsai Park and got its name from the two red/white painted checkerboards that acted as a visual marker for pilots coming in to land. It was at the arrival of these markers that the pilots would have to execute a 40 degree turn in order to be correctly lined up for the runway.

One of the checkerboards is still visible on the south facing slope of the hill - although it is in bad need of some restoration before it completely fades (so come on then, HK Govt). I'm guessing that the western facing checkerboard is still there but is now obscured by significant tree growth.

Anyway, for those who wish to go the the top of the hill it is part of Lok Fu Park and is accessible from Junction Road. The vantage point is a public space built over the hilltop reservoir and it's usually deserted. Obviously there are no planes to watch anymore, but it's a shame the place can't have some sort of small gallery built up there so people can see what the view was once like.

In the meantime you will have to settle for these few screencaps from Golgo, taken at the exact same spot above the southern checkerboard. The building in the immediate foreground of the third picture is the Holy Family Canossian College. In fact many of the buildings in that shot are still around thanks to the low amount of redevelopment in that part of Kowloon City/Kowloon Tong.

The squatter village in the last picture is the same one occupying the Carpenter Road Park that can be seen in Roaring Fire - filmed 5 years later and starring Sonny Chiba's famous protege, Hiroyuki Sanada.

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, Wanchai

I was a bit confused about this one at first because I initially thought it was Yaumatei, but after close inspection it turned out to be Causeway Bay, in this case the background was more of a clue than anything. Anyway, it's where Golgo goes with the prostitute after he has saved her from her abusive boyfriend/pimp.

Look carefully at the bottom right of the lowest picture and you can see the elevated road that curves from Victoria Park Road around onto Gloucester Road by Victoria Park.

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - Sonny Chiba (1977) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

The old airport appears a couple of times in the film, the first time is as a showcase of Golgo's skills when he takes out a target with his trademark bullet between the eyes. We also catch a brief glimpse of the airport at the end of the film when Golgo leaves HK.