Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - HMS Tamar, Hong Kong

Not a typical view of the place in that it is looking at a ship at dock on the harbourfront, but seeing as the ship is obviously a military one then it makes sense that it would be docked in front of the Naval Base that has since the handover become the PLA HQ in HK.

I'm sure there are certain individuals out there who will be able to tell us the class and name of this vessel as well as when it was stationed here. The grabs are a little blurry courtesy of the fact it was a panning shot.

Anyway, on that note, have a nice Xmas and I'll start posting again when I get back from my hols :-)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kill a Dragon - Jack Palance (1967) - Oriental Ballroom, Pilkem Street

Following on from the last I Spy post where I managed to identify the Oriental Ballroom on Pilkem Street, it was pointed out to me by my good friend and cohort, AP, that the same place was also seen in Kill a Dragon. Although we don't see the outside like in I Spy, we do get a look inside and see the same stairs and red decor, leading us both to believe that the Kill a Dragon crew also came here for this scene with Jack Palance and Aldo Ray as the former tries to convince the latter to come and help him with the villagers. Same red decor, same bannister, same white bannister spokes. 

There are two bar scenes in this film, this one and the second one at the "World of Suzie Wong" bar on Tonnochy Road (see this post). The interior of the Suzie Wong bar scene, where Palance plays pool with his girlfriend, I have recently found out was actually filmed at Shaw's Movietown in Clearwater Bay. By pure chance I got involved in a little chat with a lady called Caroline who was actually one of the extras in that scene and she confirmed the set was built over at Shaws. It's interesting for me to hear this because I hadn't realised at the time that Shaws obviously also rented out their studio space - I had always assumed they used them solely for their own productions. Well, you live and learn.

I Spy (TV Series) - Bill Cosby (1965) - Pilkem Street, Kowloon

Bill Cosby seems to be making all the headlines at the moment for all the wrong reasons and so I thought I would post this latecomer from The Loser, which sees the boys drive up to a place called the Oriental Ballroom before going up the stairs into its red decor'd interior.

It was a bit of a bummer to find initially, but given all the clues in the screen grab I'm not sure why because it looks as though all the original buildings are still here along Pilkem Street, just off Jordan Road. No surprise really seeing as in this episode the duo also go to the Lung Yu Restaurant just around the corner on Jordan Road.

Here's what it looked like on screen.

In the end I managed to half guess and half read the sign on the outside which says 東方舞廳 - dung fong mou teng. Roughly speaking I guess Oriental Ballroom is a good translation. But if you look at the top photo you can also see part of the building name next door which reads "Lucky" something or other. You wouldn't believe how many buildings there are in HK that are called Lucky something. A lot! Anyway, I think I've got the correct one below if you compare the two pictures below. The whole block looks to be the same one from 1965, and a quick look on Centamap confirms that Lucky House was indeed built in 1961, and the one next door (painted blue in the screen grab below) - Shing Hing House - is even older, being built in 1957!

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

The obligatory shot of a plane landing at Kai Tak, just so that we know we are actually in Hong Kong. No matter how many times I see pictures of Kai Tak, I never get tired of them which is a good thing because I suspect Kai Tak has pretty much featured on almost every (pre-1998) film I've featured on this blog.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Amsterdam Kill - Robert Mitchum (1977) - Connaught Centre, Hong Kong

Just as we run into Xmas, I thought a new film would be nice, this time The Amsterdam Kill directed by Robert Clouse (we already looked at two of his HK-made films on this blog: Enter the Dragon and Golden Needles). It stars an ageing Robert Mitchum, but actually is a cracking film if you get the chance to see it, and of course lots of interesting HK locations to be found, some never seen here before.

So let's start off with a quick view of the Connaught Centre where the US Drug Enforcement Agency is supposedly based. Of course, these days we know this building as Jardine House, although I'm not sure of when the name change occurred. In 1972 when it first opened it was Hong Kong's tallest building and its very first 'skyscraper'.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - No.60 to 66 Johnston Road, Wanchai

No.60 to 66 Johnston Road, or as many people in Hong Kong now know it - The Pawn. Before it became a rather posh restaurant - much to the disappointment of those who felt it should have been converted into something a bit more accessible to the general public - The Pawn was in fact a block of four old shophouses including a pawnshop called the 和昌大押 or Wo Cheong Pawnshop.

Anyway, it gets a brief background role in its former shambolic splendour as Pak & Co drive away down Luard Road.

And below is a recent snap from Streetview. Note you can also see Trust Tower in both the film grabs and the Streetview picture - it's the building on the left of the pictures.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Remembering Bruce Lee...

I thought I would take this opportunity to let everyone know that Jon Benn, who is perhaps most famous for playing the mafia boss in Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon, has just re-released his autobiography via Blacksmith Books.

The original publication/release in 2013 was a slightly more informal affair and Jon seemed to be trying to do it all himself - meaning it wasn't that easy to grab hold of a copy without contacting him directly. To be honest, the print quality of that version was also slightly lacking. However, thankfully, Jon is now in the safe and professional hands of a renowned local publisher and the newly printed version is high quality - better text quality, better paper quality, sharper picture quality, and the best thing is that the price is only $138 (not including p&p).

So, if you missed out on the initial offering of this book directly from Jon, you can now pick up a copy directly from Blacksmith Books at the following link (if you are not in HK) or locally at one of the many HK bookstores.

I have to say after having a few nights out with Jon over the past few years, I can say that reading his book and chatting to him is a similar experience. He has a lot of funny and interesting stories up his sleeve and you get to read all about them in this book...

...and speaking of nights out. Here is a picture of the man himself, taken a couple of years back at Pier 7 when I went to meet him for a beverage or two. This was before we were all stone drunk. Photo courtesy of Tim Redel. (yes, I was on the cropped bit, but I'm very shy :-) ).

Order Jon's book...NOW!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Forced Vengeance - Chuck Norris (1982) - Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay

A latecomer from this film (this always seems to happen - a late identification) which involves part of the chase scene when Chuck and the gang get off the ferry and walk the streets. The problem is that despite the fact that they have boarded the ferry on HK-side and get off Kowloon Side, all of a sudden we are back HK-side looking at the corner of Tung Lo Wan Road where it intersects with Causeway Road/Leighton Road.

I've had to go back a couple of years inside GoogleMaps to find a decent picture because the current one shows the building in scaffolding with the neon signs removed. But go back a couple of years and we get the following view.

Look carefully and you can see that in 2011 (when this picture was taken) the neon sign that says PALWA in the film grab was still in evidence - albeit with a different business name inside the sign. But the outside shape is the same double parallelogram shape. The business with the pink neon signs is also still listed at the same address. The big characters actually say "通惠" (Tung Wai) and related to the lighting shop underneath who's full name was: 通惠電業公司 (you can just make out the name on the shop in the film). These days it seems to have adopted an English version.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gambit - Shirley MacLaine (1966) - Kai Tak Airport, Kowloon

To round off this short trip back to 1966 for Ronald Neame's Gambit, here is a parting shot of a plane coming in to land at the former Hong Kong International Airport at Kai Tak.

Gambit - Shirley MacLaine (1966) - Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Well, after following her slowly in the car, we see Shirley's body double arrive at her destination. It's the Cherry Bar and many thanks to an anonymous contributor who identified the location of that particular bar (and several others) for me earlier in the year: 24 Cameron Road (and the Kobe Bar next to it at #26)

The site these days is occupied by a building called the - perhaps rather aptly - Eastern Flower Centre. Anyway, I've attempted to recreate the same angle below with Streetview. Just to be clearer, the old Kobe Bar was situated in the area now occupied by the black entrance to the right of the bank. The Cherry Bar, with its big red doors, was immediately next door under the red sign next door. Sadly both now gone.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gambit - Shirley MacLaine (1966) - Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui

In one of those scenes I mentioned earlier, we see a first person's view of a woman walking away from the camera along a road somewhere in Hong Kong. The woman is supposedly the nightclub dancer character played by Shirley MacLaine and the person whose eyes we are looking through is Michael Caine as he slowly follows her in his car.

Except that, in this only real close up view of the Hong Kong, we are actually following a body double and Michael Caine, when we get a glimpse of him, is actually being filmed with a back projection. In other words, neither actor was ever in Hong Kong for these scenes and it is likely that a local company was hired to film them or a small unit from the US went out to capture what was necessary for the plot.

Anyway, it's done quite well and luckily for us we do get a brief glimpse of what turns out to be a few streets in the Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon. Here are the grabs.

In case you hadn't guessed already, the woman in the green dress and headscarf (conveniently hiding her hair) is supposedly Shirley MacLaine's dancer who Caine wants to recruit for a heist operation. He's following her along Hart Avenue in Tsim Sha Tsui as she walks towards her place of employment.

Luckily for us, this area hasn't changed very much despite the time that has passed (nearly 50 years!) and the fact that a large tract of the area was razed to make way for the URA redevelopment that now has 'The Masterpiece' (and the K11 mall) as its centrepiece.

Anyway, in the first few pictures above we see our body double as she walks south around the rather unique bend of Carnarvon Road where it intersects with Humphrey's, Hart and Pratt Avenues.

As she walks around the corner we see the very distinctive shape of a corner building. This is Rose Mansion and we can also see it in the recent Streetview picture below. This old building on the corner of Prat and Hart Avenues has been around since 1958 and is really about the only recognisable thing left.

After she crosses the road in front of Rose Mansion, our walker heads to the right down Hart Avenue and we get a brief glimpse of how it looked back in the mid-60's (see the last two pictures in the screen grabs). And here it is today. It seems that the right hand side of Hart Avenue is fairly modern compared with the left - and it looks as though the modern buildings have encroached somewhat on what used to be a much wider road.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gambit - Shirley MacLaine (1966) - Views of the Harbour, Hong Kong

A quick change of film for a few posts as we look at a few scenes from 1966's Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine film - Gambit.

Now, this film is obviously (to me at least) one of those that has a few outdoor scenes shot on location in Hong Kong, but actually the main action occurs elsewhere (i.e. in a studio in California). Much like the HK scenes in You Only Live Twice, these ones from Gambit are also only used as a device to establish the location of the characters at the beginning of the film - so I strongly suspect neither actor was in HK for any filming.

Despite the lack of any real HK-based scenes the film makers did get some nice shots of a mid-60's Hong Kong including these ones that were shown during the opening credits.