Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Stanley Bay, Hong Kong

The finale of the Fan Tan Man episode takes place on a yacht moored off the coast somewhere. I've put Stanley Bay in the title of this post but actually the location of the beach where the final gun battle takes place is actually St Stephen's Beach around where the concrete jetty stands. The beach is probably the least changed part of Stanley bay compared to the main area where the promenade now is and of course the view opposite (as seen in the top photo) has been heavily developed since the series was filmed.

The bottom picture shows the aforementioned Outdoor Activities Centre. It's had a paint job since then but other than that still looks the same. Here is the jetty.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Aberdeen Marina Club, Aberdeen

An easy one here in the form of the Aberdeen Marina Club located in the Sham Wan area of Aberdeen. This episode - Fan Tan Man - actually visit the place twice, the first trip we see the interior of what looks to be the 2nd floor restaurant (of course it's a lot different now) and one of the circular balconies that are a feature of that floor.

The second time we go back to the AMC, we get to see the tropical pool at the back of the complex. You can see the aforementioned circular balconies at the top of the first picture. I have actually been here quite a few times and can confirm it looks pretty much the same as it did back then. The pool hasn't changed other than having a small water slide added at the back.

Look carefully on the lower picture and you can see part of the Jumbo restaurant in the background. The hillside in the background is part of Ap Lei Chau and has seen a lot of redevelopment over the past few years meaning that today's view from the same location is obscured by lots of new high-rises.

It amazes me how an area that was once, essentially, a floating slum, can be turned around in just a few shorts year so that only millionaires can afford to live there. Such is the craziness of the HK property market.

The AMC is actually operated by the Shangri-La group and should you wish to become a member it will set you back about HK$3.5 million!

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Shatin Racecourse, Shatin

Well, we just saw a road leading up to the racecourse in Shatin, so now how about some footage taken inside the place itself.

I must admit I'm not much of a gambler, but this venue happens to be the location of a nice little win I was party to when I was taken here many years ago by my friend's family. I had no idea how to mark the betting cards and so his aunt helped me and I ended up winning $1800. Not bad, and no, she didn't want to share it :-)

On a related note, if anyone is interested in a crash course in Cantonese swear words, then this is the place to seek enlightenment.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Tolo Highway Elevated Road, Shatin

The Fan Tan Man (aka fat bald man) also gets followed to Shatin Racecourse and we catch a brief glimpse of the elevated road that leads down into the racecourse area. It's a nameless road but crosses the highway and is fed from either the northbound Tolo Highway or the Tsun King Road on the opposite side of the highway.

The road actually hasn't changed much but the view is more obscured from tree growth (but for HK that's a good thing).

Those houses at the top by the way are all along Ma Lok Path and is called Greenery Villas. The Streetview shot from a similar angle seems a little hazy - but these days that just seems to be par for the course...(did you see what I did there? :-) )

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Man Cheong Street, Kowloon

Once upon a time, before the west Kowloon reclamation came along and filled everything in, there were typhoon shelters on both side of what I have referred to in the past as the Man Buildings - a cluster of eight 1960's built tenements that used to sit just north of the old Jordan Road vehicular ferry terminal.

The man buildings are still around and we get to see the northern side of the Man Wai Building when Marenta (Robert Taylor) and co drive their car along what was once the waterfront of Man Cheong Street.

The angle above has us looking west along Man Cheong Street towards Yau Ma Tei and the building behind the Rolls Royce is the Man Wai Building. Here is the current Streetview.

You will spot a few familiar sites if you compare the middle screen grab with the Streetview, but of course the most striking difference is that Man Cheong Street is no longer along the waterfront. In fact the old line of demarcation between land and sea looks to coincide with the double white line on the modern view. Everything to the right of that double white line used to be water, and now carries a huge road network, the Olympian City development, Olympic Rail station and much much more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Marriot Hotel, Queensway

Here's a surprise I wasn't expecting because I hadn't realised it had already been completed and opened for business. I'm talking about the J.W Marriot Hotel attached to Pacific Place. We get a brief glimpse of the entrance as the baldy bad guy heads off on one of his excursions. It's a brief glimpse but still recognisable today.

Unfortunately we can't get very close using Streetview so will have to settle with a long view taken from the public road outside. You can vaguely see that it looks the same although Marriot seems to have undergone a re-branding at some point and changed the style of their logo.

So, why was the Marriot featured in Yellowthread Street when other nearby hotels such as the Conrad and Shangri-La were still under construction. It appears that the Marriot was built in the very first construction phase of Pacific Place and so was ready by 1988 - a year or so before the series was made. The neighbouring hotels were part of a later phase completed in 1990.

Additional Edit: I forgot to add the snaps from inside the Marriot lobby when I posted this, so here they are.

The distinctive metal pillars in the background can also be seen on this shot taken by a traveller and uploaded to the Tripadvisor website (link: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/ed/0d/ec/jw-marriott-hotel-hong.jpg)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bruce Lee & I - Betty Ting Pei (1976) - Ma Liu Shui, Shatin

Here's one that I suspected I knew where it was but had to play the patient waiting game of either someone confirming for me or finding a picture that provides corroboration for my assumptions.

The scene is when Betty and Bruce (played by Danny Lee) are walking along the KCR track and having a chat about life etc, and there is the distinctive shape of an old KCR railway tunnel. here's a reminder.

Currently there are only two remaining tunnels on the KCR that fit this profile, the first one is the original Beacon Hill tunnel, and the seocnd one is the original single track tunnel at Tai Po Kau. Both tunnels still exist, but only the latter is still in use as a rail tunnel (Beacon Hill Tunnel is now used to carry gas pipes and other conduits from the NT into Kowloon, and to accommodate a second track in Tai Po Kau, the KCR just drilled another tunnel next to the original) but the background we can see doesn't matches anything that can be seen at either tunnels' entrances.

So I pondered that there may have been another tunnel somewhere that fitted the profile. Only today I have had that confirmation courtesy of a photograph from the early 60's shared in FLICKR by our friend Doug. Here is the link: https://flic.kr/p/pjowTd

Look at the background in Doug's photo you can see the tunnel on the right hand side. How long the tunnel was I'm not sure but after a quick look on GoogleEarth it is quite obvious that then hillside in the background behind our two actors is the slope behind the modern day Shatin Hospital and A Kung Kok Shan Road.

Here is another picture of the tunnel courtesy of the CUHK website (it can be seen in the b&w picture at the top of this link: http://www.iso.cuhk.edu.hk/english/publications/newsletter/article.aspx?articleid=54997

The tunnel has been demolished of course, probably due to the lack of space to build a second tunnel for a second track, so they just removed the whole hillside with the tunnel to make the extra space.

Look carefully immediately behind the two actors and you can see what looks to be the start of the reclamation works that filled in the Shatin Sea to make way for Shatin New Town.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Harrison Ford (1984) - Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau

Okay, so here is one that I can take a bit more of the credit for finding and it's the location of the car chase that immediately follows Indiana Jones' escape from Club Obi Wan as his car is pursued by Lao Che and his gun-toting henchmen.

What follows are brief glimpses of one of my favourite roads in Macau - Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro - or known locally as San Ma Lo (lit: new road). It's my favourite road because its lined with those great looking shophouse buildings on either side of the road - that's probably why the film makers thought it would be a good double for Shanghai (although I'm not sure how prevalent they were there).

So in no particular order we can start with the following screen grab which shows the baddies car driving past our first location.

Not too hard to find this one and it hasn't changed much at all, althoughnow it is home to a company (or person?) called Kuong Weng Wong. Look at the Streetview grab below and you can see the same shop on the left by the open space.

Next up is a building that I actually once wrote a post about on my old blog and will (at some point in the near future) post it up again. It's the Cheung Tai Dai On pawnshop (Casa De Penhores) with its very distinctive arched front facade. It's unique along this road and so made it very easy to spot. You can see the lower part of it in the screengrab below (to the left of the car) and I have tried to match the angle on Streetview without much success.

Never mind, here is a closeup of it from a stitched photo I did a few years back. Sorry for the bend but that's just the old camera lens distorting it.

Actually, it was this building that initially helped me to figure out which road this filming was done on. I did read somewhere (I think an old Rough Guide from 1996) that the car chase was filmed on Rua De Felicidades, however, once I saw this building on  screen I knew that it wasn't correct. Some filming may have been done on that smaller road but I have to be able to positively identify anywhere.

Moving on to the next bit and we see a shot of Indy's car going up the road with a nice long row of shophouses in view. Believe it or not, some of the decor on the front of these shops can still be seen. In the screengrab below, the shop that is directly next to the Indy's car has a (what looks like) diamond pattern above the columns, and the one next to it (further away) has a striped board that can still be see.

So, we can see the same striped pattern on the fourth shop down on the right and the diamond pattern one shop closer to us. The cow on the modern Streetview corresponds to the shop below the "Pearl" emblem from my cheapskate screen capture. If you look close enough under the cow you can see the same vertical grooves that can be seen on the film.

Finally, our last shot was taken a bit further on but looking back up the other way down the road. Look closely and you can see the same shops I just described, but now behind the baddies car in the background (well at least the stripey- and diamond-patterned ones)

So it isn't too great a leap to get an almost similar angle on Streetview below - although the picture below does include a bit more. The red lettered column in the film grab above is actually the first grey column on the left (under the yellow horizontal banner).

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Harrison Ford (1984) - Pensão Sun Sun Hotel, Praca De Ponte E Horte, Macau

I can see that my Yellowthread Street posts are going to take a long time, so to add a bit of respite here and there I'm going to throw a few classic films into the mix to break up the monotony. First off is a couple of posts centered around one of my childhood favourites: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Sadly I can't take any credit for the following post because the background was given to me by a very helpful chap by the name of Ventsislav Doychev (https://twitter.com/VenDoychev). To cut a long story short I had offered to find out where Club Obi Wan was and failed miserably, only to have Ven come back to me a few months later with all the information on a platter. So a big thanks to Ven for letting me know.

Anyway, for those who have been living in a cave for the last 30 years, the opening scenes in ToD involve Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) trying to do a deal with the evil Lao Che (Roy Chiao) at Club Obi Wan in Shanghai. Jones gets poisoned for his troubles and then shot at before jumping out of the window of the club and making off in a car whilst being chased by the baddies.

The good news is the location has been identified (by Ven), the bad news is that the actual building itself has been redeveloped. The only clue was an old photograph - purportedly taken by one of the production crew when they were doing a location scout - that shows the building concerned (I have no idea whose photo it is so if you know please comment so I can correctly attribute).

Yes, the green building at the back was the one converted into Club Obi Wan for the purpose of filming. It may not be too obvious from that photo but some closer inspection of the screen captures reveal the same windows, balcony railings and green colour of the walls. So, what and where was it?

The building was actually a hotel called the Pensão Sun Sun Hotel and it was located near to the inner harbour along Praca De Ponte E Horte. Can you see the building in the foreground? It didn't look so great back in 1984 when the film was made/released, but following the Macau Govt's sprucing up of old buildings it now looks pretty nice. Below is the recent streetview taken at the best angle I can get to match.

As you can see the Pensão Sun Sun Hotel has been replaced by another building. It's still a hotel on the site but now it's the Best Western Sun Sun Hotel.

So anyway, here are some of the screencaps. Sadly, I had to take them off a TV broadcast here in HK a while back (which is why you can see the Pearl symbol at the top right. I promise that when I get hold of a copy I will be able to provide some better captures, until then...

These shots shows the chaps (actually it was Vic Armstrong and his wife Wendy Leech doing the stunts in place of Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw) falling down the side of the building and through some awnings. Before catching hold on to a building on the opposite side of the road (in this case it was the slimline Rua Do Bocage next to the hotel). See below.

Now, sadly, the row of balconies you can see in the background of the above screenshots has also disappeared, however, it does appear that the stunt was done so that they landed on an awning sticking out from the nice yellow building that is still around. Here is a modern Streetview of Rua Do Bocage.

The small door on the right is pretty much the same position that the Club Obi Wan Main door was at during filming.

And finally, this is how it looks today (I know which one I prefer and it's not just because it was featured on the film).