Sunday, 31 March 2019

Aorm Aok Jao Praya - Arunya Narmwong (1972) - Mong Fu Shek, Tai Wai

I think this might be another first for this blog courtesy of this Thai film. This time it is an image of A-Mah rock, known locally as Mong Fu Shek (looking for husband rock). I must admit to being a bit confused about the angle of view (I think possibly from the East but I can't tell), but it is unmistakably the famous rock that sits in the hills above what is now Tai Wai. However, in the film, the two lovebirds are viewing it from a nearby temple. I don't recognise the temple and it makes me think that it may have been one back in Thailand, just edited in later.

Anyway, it's nice to see it finally feature in an international film, albeit very briefly. That's about it for this film, only a few locations but most of them never seen here before.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Aorm Aok Jao Praya - Arunya Narmwong (1972) - Cherry Street, Tai Kok Tsui

Our rich protagonist is taken to see a bgit of local life down at the Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter, however, this is not a usual view I have seen on film and is in fact the northern end of the old typhoon shelter that terminated in the area where Cherry Street ran across it towards the old Tai Kok Tsui ferry pier (you can see how that area looked just prior to redevelopment here).

The big giveaway here is the presence of the Lutheran School for the Deaf that can be seen in the background of the top image. This school was opened in 1968 but hs since moved to a new campus around 1990. However, this school building remains and instead is now the Sharon Lutheran School. It's had a bit of redecoration since 1972 but it's still recognisable.

The lower two images give a coupe of different views along Cherry Street. The second image shows the view looking towards the west and in the distance where it terminates at the bus terminus and ferry pier, whilst the lower image is the view looking roughly south west across the upper part of the typhoon shelter. Its also here where the female character persuades an old boat lady to pretend to be her mum.

Aorm Aok Jao Praya - Arunya Narmwong (1972) - Wader Studios, Kwai Chung

The best thing about getting my hands on this film is that it cleared up an old mystery that has been bugging me for a few years. This film provided the answer courtesy of this following location. This is Wader Studios on castle Peak Road just outside of Tsuen Wan. It was an independent company with three large sound stages and various post production facilities that made its money by renting out its facilities to other film companies rather than making its own movies. It's believed that more than 1000 films were made here during its 20 year operation until it closed in 1973 and was redeveloped into the Wah Tat Industrial buildings. There is a very detailed history of the place here, but I should say that the guy who wrote it is a d*&k for downloading my Wader screen grab (from Die Mädchen von Hongkong), cropping off the watermark and not even giving me a link back or reference. I had to add one myself in the comments...

Anyway, we've seen the exterior of the studio before. The building was used in Die Jungen Tiger von Hongkong , Heisser Hafen Hongkong and Die Mädchen von Hongkong. At least these are the ones I have found so far, there may be more (like this one).

However, I had no idea what was on the other side of that building until this film showed me and I suddenly realised that this was the same location that this scene was filmed in Die Jungen Tiger von Hongkong AND that Bruce Lee had been photographed at whilst completing pick-up shots for The Big Boss - you can see a large selection of those photos here, but in particular note this one (and similar) and this one. So another mystery eventually solved, completely by fluke.

On with our Thai film. Our heroine is being escorted around Hong Kong by a chaperone who takes her to see a film being made at Wader Studios. We get a nice shot of the car approaching and turning into the front of the studio along Castle Peak Road.

Once behind the front office, we come to the garden (for want of a better word) that separated the front building from the sound stages which can be seen in the background below. This is the area where Bruce lee was photographed and also where that earlier scene from Die Jungen Tiger von Hongkong was filmed.

We then catch a view looking back up towards the main building and if you clicked on the second Bruce Lee photo link I provided above, you should be able to see that this is the same building that Bruce is standing in front of as he monkeys around for the camera complete with those rather unique red light posts. I'm glad to finally have this mystery solved.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Aorm Aok Jao Praya - Arunya Narmwong (1972) - View over Wanchai, Hong Kong

Aorm Aok Jao Praya (Thai: อ้อมอกเจ้าพระยา) is a Thai film made in 1972 and partially filmed in Hong Kong. I was first told about the film several years ago by Regis Madec who runs the ThaiWorldView website, it's just taken me a long time to get around to buying a copy (available here). So many thanks to him for making me aware of this.

The film centres around a girl (Arunya Narmwong) who is from a rich family but on a trip to Hong Kong she manages to elude her chaperone to spend some time amongst folks a bit less well off than herself. She pays an old boat woman to pretend to be her mum and then promptly falls in love with a lowly Thai boat captain who is in HK for a few days. Queue attempts by her father and chaperone to get her back. The first half of the film is largely centred on HK locations whereas the second half returns to Thailand as the characters head back to their homeland. There are a few places I've not seen on film before, but let's start off with the usual stuff. The establishing sequence is a quick pan from east to west starting at Happy valley (top image) and finishing looking over towards HMS Tamar (you can just see the naval basin on the far left of the fourth image).

Too much has changed to even start pointing out details, but what some may notice is that the Wanchai seafront reclamation was either still in process, or recently completed. You can see the strip of empty land along the coast. One of the reasons this view has changed so much is that thin strip of newly reclaimed land is now full of skyscrapers.

Skyscraper - Dwayne Johnson (2018) - View from Tsim Sha Tsui...or not

A final post from Skyscraper I think before I move on to the next movie. This one is a bit of a mish-mash though with what appears to be a non-HK shot of a helicopter coming into land, combined with a real shot of Harbour City in the back left, plus the fake CGI building middle background and then with another real shot of Hong Kong Island as the far background.

However, although the two bits of Hong Kong that can be seen appear to be real, there is no way you can see that bit of HK Island from this part of TST looking in that direction. So I guess the film makers have just used two different shots and combined them to form the background environment with the CGI skyscraper slapped between them to hide the join :) 

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Skyscraper - Dwayne Johnson (2018) - Central Ferry Piers, Hong Kong

The early scene when Johnson crosses the harbour on the "Victoria Ferry Company" (I guess the Star Ferry didn't want their name used) is a mixture of on-location footage and studio based ones. So for instance the ferry approaching the TST pier is obviously real. However, the follow up shot of the actors on the boat looks to me like a set. The ferry replica is good but the riveted windows are not the same as the real things which are inset into the frame and can be slid up and down.

Anyway, what follows after that is - what I think might be - the only shot from the whole film that features Dwayne Johnson physically on location in Hong Kong.

Finally, as the ferry comes into dock, we get a couple of real shots edited together with a not-so-great replica ferry pier for the close ups. So the first two, are obviously the real pier.

Real ^
Fake ^

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Skyscraper - Dwayne Johnson (2018) - Central. Hong Kong

During the opening sequence, there is a couple of aerial views across the densely packed streets of Central District. In the top image it's a bit of a jumble, but the second one (showing the area that is in the top part of the first image) is much easier to identify. Staunton Street is running from bottom left to top right and the green area centre right is actually the old Police Married Quarters on Aberdeen Street (it's now an art "hub" called PMQ).

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Skyscraper - Dwayne Johnson (2018) - Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

There was a bit of a kerfuffle last year when Dwayne Johnson and co-stars were in town to promote Skyscraper. The film is centered around the world's tallest building, standing on the TST waterfront, which is subsequently overrun by terrorists whilst Johnson's movie family are trapped inside. Although there is a significant amount of footage of Hong Kong used in the film it looks as though, in terms of the actors being on the ground filming, I can only spot a single scene.

Most of the HK footage involves the not-very-convincing CGI skyscraper being stuck into what appears to be drone footage taken from various angles. This is the third film to "CGI" a building onto the HK landscape. The first was Largo Winch (2008) which, in my opinion, did a much better job. The second was Push (2008) which had a problem deciding where their building should be for continuity purposes, and now this one. You can judge for yourself from the various shots of the harbour where the building has been crow-barred in.

Die Jungen Tiger von Hongkong - Robert Woods (1969) - Wader Studios, Kwai Chung

Here's another old location that I was struggling to find but the answer just landed in my lap courtesy of a Thai film I have been watching called Aorm Aok Jao Praya (Thai: อ้อมอกเจ้าพระยา). This location has also been stumping me for a while because it also features as a place where Bruce Lee was photographed during production of The Big Boss and I could never work out where he was, even though it was obviously somewhere in Hong Kong.

Anyway, mystery solved and it turns out this is on the back lot at Wader Studios. I'll put up lots more screen images when I get around to posting about the Thai film I just mentioned, but until then here are the images from this German film from 1969. Incidentally, you may remember that in this film, the exterior part of Wader also stood in for a warehouse in Singapore for this scene.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold - Tamara Dobson (1975) - Shaws Movietown, Clearwater Bay

Next up in the 'missed/forgotten first time round' category is this rather extravagant casino set from Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. This set was constructed at the back of Movietown on the area now occupied by the Lee Shau Kee Business Building of the HK University of Science and Technology. Large areas of Movietown that once supported semi-permanent sets have since been redeveloped.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

The Last Grenade - Stanley Baker (1969) - Morrison Street, Sheung Wan

Once again, a recent retrospective has leased some new life into some old films with new locations identified. This following shot was taken from a sequence in 1969's The Last Grenade starring Stanley Baker. It is the same sequence from which this location also appears in and is when Grigsby (Baker) and his men have just arrived in Hong Kong and are being driven to see the local commander (Richard Attenborough).

It turns out that if you squint just enough, the street sign at the back can be deciphered giving us Morrison Street as the location. Specifically the southern end of Morrison Street where it joins with
Queen's Road Central. There is a sort of red brick and granite blur in the background (actually, it looks to be covered in bamboo scaffolding) which is the former Western Market Southern block. This (and the building on the left) was knocked down to make way for the Sheung Wan Municipal Services building.

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Ngong Ping Village, Lantau Island

In the last post from Strangers (well, there are a couple of key locations that I haven't been able to find yet), the final Hong Kong scene in the last episode (Episode 8) was filmed at Ngong Ping village on Lantau. Obviously the first image is part of the Po Lin Monastery complex. The second image is where the scene was shot and is a small ornamental circular viewing point near to the cable car station.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Strangers - John Simm (2018) - Sham Tseng Sewage Treatment Works, Tsuen Wan

We get a much better view of the area in front of the "Kowloon Remand Centre" in Episode 8. Jonah goes there to visit the person responsible for all the murders and then meets up with Lau who wants to hang out until Jonah catches his flight back to the UK later that evening.

The area they are looking out to in the bottom image is the strip of sea between Lantau Island and the New Territories mainland (off screen to the right). Usually you would expect to see a plane preparing to land at the airport in the distance (approaching from the east) but I guess they timed the shot to avoid them.