Monday, 31 December 2018

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Freder Centre, Ma Tau Kok

The police station that Jonah (John Simm) attends - in order to identify his wife's body - is actually an industrial building located immediately south of the old airport area. This is also the same place he first sees his wife's other husband, David Chen (Anthony Wong).

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Siu Lang Shui Road, Tuen Mun

Although nicely edited to appear as the same approximate location, the car accident was actually filmed about as far away from Shek O Road as you can possibly get in a vehicle - along the Siu Lang Shui Road directly south of Castle Peak. I've never been here so I have no idea what the two water towers are for - perhaps related to one of the industrial processes located at nearby Pillar Point?

Anyway, the crash itself happens a little further along from these towers, where a service road turns off to the north.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Shek O Road, Hong Kong

The action starts with an aerial view of the wife's car as she drives along a rather picturesque country road - Shek O Road. The small settlement in he distance is Shek O with its famous beach on the right.

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Big Buddha Statue, Lantau

Another establishing shot that is worth including is the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island. It's always an impressive sight no matter how long you have been in Hong Kong.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Tong Shui Road Pier, North Point

Another brief shot, setting up the Hong Kong location, was snapped on the Tong Shui Road pier in North Point. This T-shaped concrete pier is the same one that was used for Ghost in the Shell. The view across to Kowloon in the second image was also shot from this same vantage point.

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Sung Kong, Shek O

On to the next subject of the blog and this time it is an ITV series (consisting of 8 episodes) starring John Simm and Anthony Wong Chau-sang as two guys who married the same woman (Dervla Kirwan). Said woman has been killed in Hong Kong under suspicious circumstances.

For some reason the show has been marketed as White Dragon in non-UK territories which is a bit of a pants name to be honest. I prefer the Strangers title as it relates to the general story better.

When the show first came out a few months ago there were a few online critics of it who questioned how realistic it is but, to be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As someone very familiar with HK way of life I could nitpick the hell out of it but despite this I still found the story to be very good and well worth watching. The production has captured some really amazing sights and sounds of HK

It is a nice twisty story and the cinematography is outstanding - showing HK off in all its colours. It seems to be a show that will sustain the blog for quite some time to come so, as I have done with previous shows, I'll tackle it on an episode by episode basis and try not to throw out too many spoilers.

There are a whole bunch of establishing and mood-setting shots for this show and for the most part I will probably stick to the major scenes. The problem is there are so many nice images to use that I just can't resist and will probably just chuck stuff up as I see fit...and so the very first shot is a view of Sung Kong island (islet?) from Shek O beach.


Thursday, 27 December 2018

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok

Snowden makes a bid for freedom via a flight to South America. He gets this from HKIA and in real life this caused a big stink between the US and HK.

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Kowloon Park, Tsim Sha Tsui

The film gives us the odd view across Kowloon from the general area of The Mira. I think it was to show the view from Snowden's room, but it looks like the film makers thought the view was actually a bit better from the neighbouring The One mall (built on the site of the old Tung Ying Building), because that's where I think these various shots were taken from.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Harbour Grand Hotel, Whampoa

Although we know that Snowden was holed up at The Mira, the shots where Glenn Greenwald (played by Zachary Quinto) is meeting up with Tibbo prior to Snowden's escape from the hotel, were actually filmed at the Harbour Grand on the Whampoa waterfront.

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Mei King Mansion, To Kwa Wan

We've seen this part of To Kwa Wan several times now. It was last seen here when I was finding Ghost in the Shell locations, and is just a short hop from one of the large buildings used in the Transformers movie.

In this movie it is the location where Snowden's refugee protectors are living. Snowden was famously sheltered by various families throughout his stay here, all of which were refugee asylum seekers who risked their lives and futures to provide him a hiding place. They were all clients of the Human Rights lawyer, Robert Tibbo (played by Ben Chaplin), who has since been effectively forced out of the territory (recent NYT article here). Coincidentally, it seems that all of the people/families who helped shelter Snowden have had their applications for asylum denied - in this modern age of HK Govt pettiness, it seems they are paying the price for highlighting HK's refugee problems to the world.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Queen's Theatre, Central

Here's a brief shot that really niggled me. The film makers obviously went to a lot of trouble to stay true to the real story by filming in and around The Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. Why then, for a later scene, did they chuck in a piece of old stock footage of a building that wasn't even around by the time the Snowden story was actually playing out in real life?

The shot in question is a quick snippet illustrating how Snowden's revelations are being broadcast around the world. So the film makers cut to a quick scene of an outdoor TV screen showing his interview. The problem is that the screen is attached to the side of a rather famous building that was unfortunately demolished and redeveloped circa 2007. It's the old Queen's Theatre on Queen's Road Central.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Inevitably, because a large part of the HK section of the film focuses on Snowden's meeting with the journalists at The Mira, we get quite a few different views along Kimberley Road. The first couple of images show Ewen MacAskill (played by Tom Wilkinson) on the phone to his bosses at The Guardian whilst walking by the 7-11 on the corner with Carnarvon Road.


The same corner can be spotted later as Snowden and Tibbo sneak out of the hotel via the shopping centre. In fact they are walking down the steps that also lead to/from Knutsford Terrace.


We also see the same steps on the opposite side of the road as their vehicle drives up Carnarvon Road and turns left onto Kimberley Road. The car picks them up and drives towards Nathan Road, past the mall and hotel.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Mira Place, Tsim Sha Tsui

The initial meeting between the journalists and Snowden takes place inside the Mira Place (formerly  the Mira Shopping Mall and built in the mid-90s on the site of the original Miramar Hotel). There is a link bridge that connects the mall to the hotel opposite which is used later in the film to get Snowden out of the hotel without the press corps noticing.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Snowden - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (2016) - Lung Fu Shan, Hong Kong

Here's another one that snuck under the radar. You'd be surprised how easy it is to miss filming in this place unless you are in with the right crowd. Unfortunately I'm not so when this film was being made here back in 2015, I was none the wiser. That said, it looks as though the actual HK-based locations were narrow in scope, especially given the fact that Snowden kept his movements close to his chest for some time for fear of endangering those who sheltered him. As it turns out,the Govt has totally shafted those involved by turning down many of their asylum applications, so it looks as though his fears were justified.

For those who have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, Snowden was the NSA whistleblower who stole a bunch of top secret data and leaked them to the Guardian newspaper in an effort to shine a light on the overreach that was being utilised by the various US spy agencies i.e. spying on everyone, not just terrorists. He did a runner from Hawaii to Hong Kong and then managed to board a flight onward to Russia. The whole event caused quite a stir here when the local Govt let him 'escape' on the basis of a very pedantic clerical oversight which really pissed off the Americans. This film is a dramatisation of those events and the story that led to Snowden finally becoming disillusioned by his work and that of his Govt.

The film starts in Hong Kong and then deals mainly with flashbacks of his life leading up to that point. What better way to start a film than with an establishing shot of Hong Kong filmed with an aerial camera over Lung Fu Shan.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Flight to Hong Kong - Rory Calhoun (1956) - Pottinger Street, Central

The two girls flee their pursuers down Pottinger Street before heading into a cafe. Right now I am finding it hard to place which section of Pottinger Street but I suspect it's the bit between Stanley and Wellington Streets. Any higher up and I would expect to see side of the old Central Police Station at the top.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Flight to Hong Kong - Rory Calhoun (1956) - Tiger Balm Gardens, Tai Hang

This has been a long time favourite for foreign film makers in HK and it's just a shame that we only get to see a black and white version for this film. I wonder if there is a colour version of this film somewhere? If anyone knows please let me know.

Anyway, it's where the lead man (Rory Calhoun) meets up with his friend (played by Soo Yong). One of the images is a back projection studio shot. I've included it because it has an angle on the old swimming pool I haven't seen before. It's a weird shot because all it involved was Soo Yong rubbing the front of a Buddha statue (in a rather dodgy looking fashion) for good luck. I don't remember there being any Buddha statues at this place (it's been nearly 25 years since I went though) so I guess the film makers threw it in there because they had seen it going on at various temples and thought it added a bit of authenticity.

Another back projection shot filmed in the studio

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Flight to Hong Kong - Rory Calhoun (1956) - Star Ferry Bus Terminus, Tsim Sha Tsui

A fair bit of action occurs around the bus terminus next to the Star Ferry pier in TST. We get a couple of views towards the old pier building (it was replaced by the current one the following year) as well as a quick glimpse back at the end of the film so that we can see the columns at the western end of the old KCR Terminus (last image). Note that the second image is a studio based back projection. You can tell by the different lighting and focus on the car in the foreground. You can see a nice colour shot from the exact same era over at Gwulo.com.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Flight to Hong Kong - Rory Calhoun (1956) - Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei

This is a familiar strip for regular readers of this blog, although it has changed a lot over the years. Actually, the only reason I recognised it, given the poor quality of the film copy I have (it looks like a transfer from a recorded-from-TV VHS), is because the year before Clark Gable was also filmed at this same location during Soldier of Fortune. If you compare the following images to the screen grabs from this post, you can see the common elements between both films including some of the signboards and of course the steps that lead up to the front of the temple.