Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kickboxer - Jean Claude Van Damme (1989) - Nai Chung, Ma On Shan

I guess this are should be considered as Sai Kung district rather than Ma On Shan, but seeing as the latter is the closer town I shall leave it for the time being. Besides, a few years later the very same spot (almost) was used in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Coincidentally, in both films the area is supposed to be in Thailand. In Dragon, it was the substitute for Pak Chong and in Kickboxer it is the Thai village that Van Damme is sent to for groceries by Dennis Chan (Chan is by far the best thing in this film).

I think the production team behind Kickboxer did a better job at hiding the nearby village compared to when Dragon was filmed here. The open ground where this was filmed appears to still be there.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kickboxer - Jean Claude Van Damme (1989) - Jat Incline, Kowloon Peak

Despite featuring a large section shot in Thailand, Kickboxer was also filmed in Hong Kong which stood in for rural Thailand on a couple of occasions. The first brief glimpse is a shot of Taylor's (played by the Haskell V. Anderson III) battered old blue Toyota HIACE threading its way along a thin mountain road.

Rather than rural Thailand we are, in fact, looking at Jat Incline - a small road that runs on the south side of the Kowloon mountain range. Believe it or not if the camera were to pan right you would be presented with urban Hong Kong in its full high-rise concrete glory. The Streetview below gives a rough approximation of the camera's viewpoint. The hill at the far end with the pole on it is actually the summit of Fei Ngo Shan (i.e. Kowloon Peak).

For some reason most maps seem to list this road as the possessive 'Jat's Incline', but actually its proper name is just 'Jat Incline'.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Countess from Hong Kong - Sophia Loren (1967) - Former Kowloon Docks, Tsim Sha Tsui

Another notable glimpse of the real Hong Kong from this film is a quick view of the wooden pier that used to occupy the spot now taken up by Ocean Terminal. It shows a large cruise ship at dock - the one that all the subsequent action is supposed to take place on - which can just be identified as the SS President Wilson.

We know that this film was released in 1967 which means it was most likely filmed either earlier that year or sometime in 1966. The problem is that Ocean Terminal also opened in 1966 (on the 22nd March according to wiki), quite early on in the year. So either the limited HK locations on this film were shot a couple of years earlier or the film was perhaps some unused footage shot for another movie and incorporated into this one. My gut tells me that the HK images we see on film were licensed from someone else - there is just too little footage to justify spending money on a separate film crew to capture some brief scenes.

Well anyway, if you look at the screen grab below taken from the beginning of The World of Suzie Wong (the original post can be seen here), it's interesting to note that it shows the very same ship berthed at the very same wooden pier - you can even see the curved canopy that runs along the centre of the pier.

The World of Suzie Wong (1960)

I wonder if anyone out there knows how often the SS President Wilson used to berth at Hong Kong in the 1960's? It seems to have been a regular visitor and was eventually bought by CY Tung anyway.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Countess from Hong Kong - Sophia Loren (1967) - Sun Ya Hotel, Mongkok

A Countess from Hong Kong, starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren, only features a couple of short snippets of Hong Kong despite its title. The rest of the film is set on a cruise ship and was thus filmed entirely in the studio. Never mind, because we get a couple of decent locations including this one at what was 639 Nathan Road close to the junction with Argyle Street.

You can just make out the hotel name behind the string of lights on the lower left, but look closely at the background and you can also see the old neon sign for the Broadway Cinema that sat on the corner of Nathan and Argyle St. It was later replaced by the HSBC building that still stands there. It ceased operations in 1966 which means that this little bit of footage was possibly filmed just before its closure.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Lord Jim - Peter O'Toole (1965) - East Lamma Channel

Judging from the screen grabs I have, the sea-based scenes in Lord Jim were filmed all over the territory. The pictures below from quite early on (when Jim is on his first posting) were filmed just south of Hong Kong Island in the East Lamma Channel - it's the strip of water that separates Lamma Island from Hong Kong Island.

The prominent hill in the background is High West on Hong Kong Island. Look carefully just below it and you can see a small island, Magazine Island, that marks the western entrance of Aberdeen Harbour.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The World of Suzie Wong - William Holden (1960) - Hung Shing Temple, Ap Lei Chau

You can tell I am currently on a blitz of forgotten locations, right? Here is one from The World of Suzie Wong that I only really discovered a short while ago. Basically, the reason for these old posts is that I have been revisiting stuff with my current level of knowledge of these places and it's revealing how much I used to miss when I first started out with this blog.

Anyway, just before the couple head to the Tai Pak for their lunch, they head to Aberdeen and Lomax is seen painting/drawing. Look carefully at the following screen caps and you'll see that the actors are on the Ap Lei Chau side of the harbour.

The top picture shows the view looking to the west from Ap Lei Chau. The temple on the left is the very historical Hung Shing Temple on the Ap Lei Chau waterfront. It's thought to be the oldest temple in the area and is now a protected monument. Looking at modern pictures I would say the roof has undergone a renovation recently but it is definitely the same place despite the tidying up of the harbourfront.

The lower picture, from the same sequence, shows Holden sketching Suzie and we can see that this is also on the Ap Lei Chau side because you can just make out the old Aberdeen Police Station in the extreme top right of the picture on the other side of the harbour.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bons Baisers de Hong Kong - Les Charlots (1975) - Kam Shing Pharmacy, Kwun Chung

This one proved to be a bit of a toughy, largely because initial searches for "金城大藥房" led me to a reference to the place being on Kingston St in Causeway bay. After realising this couldn't possibly be correct I drew a bit of a blank until Thomas found a reference to it on Uwants. The real location? Well, it turns out it was on the corner of Jordan Road and Parkes Street.

The camera is in a car driving along Jordan Road from east to west and Parkes Street can be seen leading away to the south. Judging from the current Streetview images, it looks as though the extended upper floor section still exists although it has had its windows enlarged since 1975.

In case you want to see the Uwants forum thread, it's here courtesy of the indefatigable Thomas Ngan, so many thanks to him once again.

Lord Jim - Peter O'Toole (1965) - Old Supreme Court Building, Central

It's difficult to know how to refer to this building these days. It's now officially the Court of Final Appeal but for many years was the home to the Legislative Council and that is how it stood when I arrived here to live ten years ago. However, before all that it was the Supreme Court and, I suppose, this is the role it plays in the film because the exterior was filmed for the marine court building where Jim's tribunal is taking place.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Rua da Ribeira do Patane, Macau

Given that the last post identified Ponte No.27 as location used for the Macau-based shenanigans of Curt Jurgens, Orson Welles et al, it looks as though the funeral procession we see on film is walking down Rua da Ribeira do Patane towards the pier location.

I initially thought this road might have been Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro given the number of columned shops along the road, but it turns out that Rua da Ribeira do Patane also had them in abundance, although most have now gone.

 Anyway, there are still a few remnants that remain, including the previously blogged about building on Travessa de Guelra. A couple of them also appear to have their original balconies as well. I believe that the taller blocks further down are more recent additions, but the Macanese developers responsible figured it would be a good idea to retain the road side columns. Either that or the original buildings have just had a couple of extra floors added, I can't tell.

Ferry to Hong Kong - Curt Jurgens (1959) - Ponte No.27, Macau

Here's is one from some time ago that I never even bothered to look at because I figured it had long gone. But after wandering around Macau not so long ago I realised there was still some remnants of the location despite the 60 year gap.

The pier scenes in Macau were filmed at a real pier, and the number is recognisable on film, although lack of HD means it is not as clear as it should be. Anyway, the pier number is 27 and although the pier building itself has long gone (although many of the original buildings remain for other piers, some dating back to the 1940s), there is a nearby building that does still exist, although the ravages of time have seen its exterior change somewhat.

Here's a reminder of the pier that once sat along the waterfront on Avenida de Demetrio Cinatti.

Its modern day replacement is much larger and taller, but still occupies the same place along the road. here is the current Streetview.

Opposite the Pier building is an old tenement where, it is implied, Orson Welles' crooked captain keeps a girlfriend. She wanders out onto the balcony to give him a coy little wave as he is about the board the ferry back to Hong Kong. Here she is, followed by a picture of Welles looking suitably coquettish. You can see the lower ground of that same building behind Welles.

The building was, and still is, on the corner of Avenida de Demetrio Cinatti and the small side road (Travessa da Guelra) that connects with the Rua do Visconde Paco de Arcos. Here it is today, although standing it is not in the best of shape.

Look closely and you will be able to see some of the exterior embellishments that have been plastered over. One example is the centre of the side wall above which looks like it once had large rectangular door frame and lintel. If you look at the picture below, taken from both ends of Travessa da Guelra, you can see what it used to look like - positioned in between the two lower balcony supports. Alas, the balconies have also gone - these things are often the first to go in old buildings to ensure they don't get to the point where they prove dangerous. Here's another picture, this time taken from the pier side of the road.

Lord Jim - Peter O'Toole (1965) - Green Island, Victoria Harbour

Just as Jim and his equally yellow-bellied fellow crew are drifting into port after the storm where they abandoned ship, their small life craft bobs past Green Island at the western end of Hong Kong Island. It's recognisable for the lighthouse that still sits up there.

There are actually two lighthouses in the picture, the tall white one (completed 1905) and just to its right is the original Victorian structure built in the 1870's - all are now protected monuments.
Given Brooks' (Richard Brooks, the director) attempts to conceal modern elements from the film by obscuring them with passing junk sails, a non-Victorian element is acceptable here given that it is only out of era by about 4 years.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lord Jim - Peter O'Toole (1965) - Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter, Yau Ma Tei

One of the great logistical problems of this film was keeping out of view all of the modern anachronisms that would ruin the Victorian era within which the film (and book) were set. I spoke to Chaplin Chang about this because he worked on this film as an Assistant Director and he told me Richard Brooks (the director) largely overcame this problem by having large number of fishing junks in the background - the intention being that the open sails of the junks could be placed in front of items that might otherwise ruin the shot.

To a large extent it does seem to have dealt with the problem, but you will notice in the film that it didn't work every time and in particular with the shot below looking west from Yau Ma Tei, the film makers decided the only thing to be done was to superimpose a large building at the back. My guess is perhaps it was done to obscure a modern warship docked over at Stonecutter Island?

The curved breakwater seen mid-picture is the old breakwater, now buried under several bouts of reclamation, that ended down next to the site where the Ferry Point Estate was located. You can see it on this picture here. The pointy hill behind the fake building is Sam Chi Heung on Tsing Yi island.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Lord Jim - Peter O'Toole (1965) - Aberdeen Harbour, Aberdeen

Although filmed in HK during 1963, this film wasn't released until 1965. Based on the book by Joseph Conrad, it revolves around a disgraced sailor who tries to make amends on past decisions by helping a local tribe (perhaps supposed to be Malayan?...I haven't read the book so can't say for sure) fight a despotic General.

Aberdeen was actually one of the main stars of the film it seems because the same location is used several times to portray different places. At the beginning of the film it is supposed to be some anonymous port on the Indonesian island of Java, and then later, with a bit of jiggery pokery (some footage of a train superimposed in the background) it gets turned into the fictional post of Batu Kring from where Jim starts his epic up river mission.

In the top picture you can see the promontory that houses the seminary (look closely and you can just make out its roof) with Brick Hill in the background. The second picture shows both the Tai Pak and Sea palace moored in the middle of the harbour.

Later in the film we get the shot below - essentially taken from the same point as the second picture above, but without the zoom, but notice that there is a trail of smoke at the back. This is actually the superimposed train. From the looks of it everything front and middle is real but the far distant shoreline has been manipulated. It's quite convincing for a film shot so long ago, but the big giveaways of course are not only the still obvious floating restaurants in the middle of the harbour, but also the obvious presence of the old Police Station on the hill on the right. This is a great shot of the building because 1963 was obviously a time before any high rises had been built along that part of Aberdeen Praya Road. I'll do a separate post later where the film used those low rises with a closer angle.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hong Kong 97 - Robert Patrick (1994) - Magazine Island, Aberdeen

A final post for this film - at least until I can sort out a few elusive locations - and a nice image of a junk sailing past Magazine Island at the western entrance to Aberdeen Harbour. The name stems from the fact that there is a building on the island that was once used by the British military for storing explosives. It looks as though film camera was located on the harbour's western breakwater. The chimney's at the back are the HK Electric power station over on Lamma Island.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hong Kong 97 - Robert Patrick (1994) - Ap Lei Chau Praya Road, Ap Lei Chau

One of the final scenes of the movie was filmed in a once seldom visited corner of Ap Lei Chau (the island that makes up the southern side of Aberdeen Harbour) that was once the sole domain of various boat maintenance shed. The boat sheds are still around but they now have to share their space with a brand spanking new residential development called 'Larvotto'.

Of course, the opposite side of Aberdeen Harbour has also seen significant development, especially of late. Unfortunately you can no longer see it because of another large development at the far end of the road on the hillock next to the Ap Lei Chau bridge. It's called Sham Wan Towers (named after the common name for the eastern end of the harbour) and can be seen at the end of the road in the Streetview image below.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hong Kong 97 - Robert Patrick (1994) - Lyndhurst Terrace, Central

The tiled pillars in the background here are the ones that hold up the Mid-levels escalator where it crosses Lyndhurst Terrace at the junction with Cochrane/Gage Streets. Nothing seems to have changed much here other than the usual cycle of opening and closing of various establishments but those of who who have read my Chinese Box posts will know that one of the old blocks at the corner of Cochrane St (i.e. this spot) has since been replaced.

The Sand Pebbles - Steve McQueen (1966) - SCMP Article

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the making of The Sand Pebbles, SCMP writer, Stuart Heaver, has done a splendid job in covering Steve McQueen's presence in Hong Kong for the filming. Fascinatingly detailed and full of information I hadn't come across before. it's well worth a read. The SCMP no longer has a paywall to negotiate so here is the link:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hong Kong 97 - Robert Patrick (1994) - Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay

An easy place to spot here thanks to the SOGO sign at the back. Of all the Japanese department stores that were once in HK, SOGO still survives in two locations. This one is the longer established and more famous because it's right slap bang in the middle of the Causeway Bay shopping district.

Hong Kong 97 - Robert Patrick (1994) - Nathan Road, Kwun Chung

I really should have covered this place at the same time as the earlier Tai Lin post, but didn't realise it was the same location until now. Just after the shoot out on Lockhart Road, Patrick's character (he's called Reginald Cameron in the film) does a runner to escape and soon after leaving the scene at Marsh Road finds himself running down Nathan Road just past the junction with Jordan Road. Once again a great example of movie land taking liberties with geography. The fact that this is right next to the other quick shot earlier of the Tai Lin sign makes me think this must have been filmed at the same time.

Just a note about names. Many people incorrectly refer to this area as Jordan because of the MTR station nearby. The station is actually named after Jordan Road and there isn't actually any official location in Kowloon called Jordan. The area is still referred to on maps as Kwun Chung.

Anyway, check out the massive Fairwood (大快活) neon sign that used to stick out of New Lucky House. The curved building at the back is National Court on the south side of Jordan Road.

Sadly, that huge piece of pulsating neon has long since gone (in fact almost all the the neon along this strip is no longer there). Fairwood actually went through a rebranding in 2003 and the logo has been changed from the scary clown face to a sort of  splodgy jumping man. New Lucky House these days hosts various small backpacker hostels and a bodybuilding gym. Here's a rough approximation of the film angle.

Anyway, he then runs across the road to get picked up by his buddies in the car.