Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Project A - Jackie Chan (1983) - Kau Sai Chau, Sai Kung

Here is a location with a bit of a story behind it (which is why it has taken so long to find). The problem was this - a seaside location with calm water (so sheltered from the open sea), with a large kiln, concrete block and small abandoned hut. I looked everywhere for a long time and could not find anything that matched. I gave up - it could have been anywhere along HK's vast 800km coastline.

Anyway, it turns out (with help from some shots from another film from Daniel of Hong Kong on Film) that this location is the gap between Kau Sai Chau and Jin Islands in Port Shelter.

I've never been here myself but know that there is a small restaurant here that is popular with boaters (because there is no way else to get there) but the shots from Panoramio suggest that the large chimney/kiln has been demolished (I suspect this was an artifact related to the nearby Hung Shing temple) as has the large concrete blockhouse. But there does seem to still be a small abandoned hut there (which I am sure you will be able to see when Dan puts up his own post on this location). The whole shoreline has been concreted and smoothed out, but the background remains the same. If you are wondering about the exact location here is a Googlegrab.

Kau Sai Chau to the north (this island is popular because it contains HK's only public golf course - but you still need to catch a boat to get there) and this area is on its southernmost part. The small cluster of squares to the left of the gap is a fish culture farm - quite popular here in HK for raising fish for restaurants and at one time blamed for the shark attacks that occurred in the early 90's because the fish food was thought to attract the sharks!

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Central Vehicular Ferry Pier, Hong Kong

The end of the chase ends at an odd looking pier - odd for a couple of reasons: first it's a vehicular ferry and second it no longer exists.

The ramp you can see in the middle of the last two shots was obviously the car ramp where the cars embarked the ferry (you can still see the old vehicular ferries plowing the harbour as the Bauhinia cruise and dine boats) and each side arm was for the foot passengers.

So whereabouts was this thing. It was accessed from Connaught Road (when Connaught Rd was still on the sea front) in front of the old Fire station next to Jubilee Street (that's the old fire station poking up at the top of the pier) - basically directly to the north of the Hang Seng HQ where One IFC now stands. Here is the current view from Streetview. Look closely at the walkways over Connaught Road and it's almost as though the architect was paying homage to the two prongs of the pier. It was demolished in 1994 for the IFC reclamation. Gwulo also has information here.

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong

Once Bud finds who he thinks he is after a chase ensues through various locations, one of which is down Ladder Street, past the Man Mo Temple and onto Hollywood Road.

Well, the building on the right is the one that is still there, replacing the previous building that featured as the Nam Kok Hotel in The World of Suzie Wong. The temple roof looks a bit shabby here and I am sure it has undergone a bit of a renovation since 1975, but notice the old red-painted pillar box and old-style fire-hydrant. Both of these items were visible in the previously mentioned Suzie Wong too (and Jackie Chan's The Protector) but sadly, have long since gone.

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - A Diversion: Chaplin Chang

Okay, not a location but a person. Why this person? Well, for those who are not Bruce Lee fans his name may be a bit strange, but people with a bit more knowledge about the world of Bruce Lee will be familiar with Chaplin's name. Chaplin - although acting in this film opposite Bud Spencer - was largely a behind-the-scenes guy who worked on the production team of both Way of The Dragon and Enter the Dragon.

Here he is as Bud's mysterious contact in Hong Kong (and Bud gets to follow him to Macau as we will see in later posts).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong

Here's one that is pretty unrecognisable these days - largely thanks to the impressive amount of reclamation that has gone into the area in the last 30 years.

After we left Bud, last seen in Wanchai on the back of a pedicab, somehow he manages to peddle completely around to the other side of the island and stop off at the old Tai Pak Floating Restaurant ferry pier. Now remember this film was made in 1975, a whole year before the newly launched Jumbo would open, and the Tai Pak (and possibly the Sea Palace as well?) was the only restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour.

These days the small piers where you catch the shuttle ferries over to the Jumbo Kingdom are situated quite close to their destination on the waterfront at Shum Wan Pier Drive. In 1975 the piers were all the way over on the waterfront at Wu Nam Street. The area that used to house the old Tai Pak ferry pier now houses the Aberdeen Bus terminus!!

That is Aberdeen Main Road that stretches out behind old Buddy boy there - most of the houses along this road still remain, some have been around since the early 50's. This whole area has had the shore front reclaimed to make an additional 100+ metres of land and includes the Aberdeen Promenade park in front of the bus terminus.

The photo above shows Wu Nam Street as it was in 2009, courtesy of Streetview. The entrance into the bus terminus (behind the low green roof) is the approximate location of where the Tai Pak pier used to be located.

Of course, a trip to Aberdeen wouldn't be complete without at least 1 view of the Tai Pak. In the background you can see the green hillock that houses the Aberdeen Seminary.

Of course, Bud isn't going to the Tai Pak, he is off to a place - some floating mahjong den - called the Golden Moon to find the HK mastermind behind the drug runners. On the bottom screen grab you can see the old HK Electric power station. This was caught on film a couple of years earlier in Enter The Dragon. The power station got moved over to Lamma and South Horizons (a large residential complex) was built on parts of the old power station site.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Johnston Road junction with Fleming Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

A little after we saw Bud outside the Lung Moon, he hops on a pedicab and gives the poor driver a hard time by the mere fact that he is a fat bastard and weighs more than the poor dude can handle. Anyway, we next see the struggling pedicab still heading down Johnston Road but this time at the large intersection with Fleming Road.

These shots are great because I can see that just in this small stretch of road there are still a lot of surrounding buildings that still stand. The first is from the top two shots and it stands on the corner of Johnston and Wanchai Road.

See, still there and being looked after, although the view to the mountains at the end of Wanchai Road is no longer clear and we now just get the side of a high rise rather than the green foliage that was there in 1975.

As the camera pans left we can see a few buildings at the other side of the street (Johnston Road turns south here and these buildings are actually on part of Wanchai Road still). Here is the 2009 Streetview.

Well, you can see the square-windowed place is still around and the building to the left of it (our left). The rest are a bit hard to discern to be honest. Note that in 1975 the road corner here also had another one of those strange Police street/traffic lights. If anyone knows more about them would love to hear what they were for.

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Johnston Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

As Bud walks around looking for clues we see him head into the environs around Wanchai and a very famous landmark that has only just recently disappeared (around 2009). It's the Lung Moon restaurant along Johnston Road just opposite Southorn Playground.

The Lung Moon is of course the red-coloured building at the back right. The restaurant's sign has been a prominent fixture in this part of HK for many years.

Anyway, it's gone now and here is a streetview which would have been soon after its closing in 2009. The site is currently empty after the building was knocked down but I have no idea what will be built there in its place - probably a shopping mall or expensive jewelers *sigh*...

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Statue Square, Hong Kong

 Just a brief shot here as Bud walks across the Cenotaph garden. Of course these days it's off-limits to the public but at least we get a nice view of the previously mentioned HSBC building and Standard Chartered Bank HQ and the current version of Prince's Building (and just a glimpse of the corner of the Supreme Court/ex-LegCo building peeking out behind the Cenotaph).

One thing to note is the wavy roofed pavilions in the background. These of course do still stand in and around the water feature in Statue Square. It wouldn't surprise me to see them go over the next few years though...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong

Some scene setting takes place - as it does in any film that wants to show its viewers that they really did go to HK - and we get a few shots of a 1975 Central including the following view down the tramlines along Des Voeux Rd.

Okay, so you are wondering which building that cool spire used to belong too? (of course I mean used to, this is HK after all). Well, it was the top of the old Bank of East Asia building - sadly demolished in 1980 to make way for their current HQ. Shame because that was one glorious looking bit of architecture.

As the camera pulls back we can see some old favourites - including rather oblique views of the old Chartered Bank Building and of course the previous incarnation of the HSBC HQ - both now gone. But what about the buildings on the right? Well, the far one is of course the current version of the Prince's Building, and at extreme right in the lower shot we can see the edge of the former Supreme Court/LegCo building - also still around.

By the way that white light thing in the foreground of the bottom shot was some sort of traffic light - I have no idea how it worked but you see them a lot on these older scenes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Flatfoot in Hong Kong - Bud Spencer (1975) - Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

I have a big thank you to say to two people as I embark on this new film for the blog. It was brought to my attention by Jesus who also writes and runs the cool Golden Ninja Warrior Chronicles blog, and also a big thanks to Dan who writes the excellent Hong Kong On Film blog and actually sent me a copy of said film. So many thanks to both these fine gentlemen and fellow HK film location scholars and bloggers.

A quick surmise: Bud Spencer (real name Carlo Pedersoli) plays a surly and burly Napoli cop who has a penchant for smacking people on the top of their heads with his fist in order to subdue them, is framed by a cop traitor and has to chase various bad guys around the world (in this case Italy, obviously, Bangkok and Hong Kong and Macau) to prove his innocence and catch the bad guy. Obviously we shall focus on the Hong Kong and Macau scenes for this blog but if anyone is interested in Bangkok in 1975 then it's probably also well worth a look.

Anyway, the opening Hong Kong scene (when Flatfoot arrives in HK from Thailand) is a panning helicopter shot high above the harbour. The scene lasts for quite sometime and takes in an almost 360 degree view so we get a good look at the whole area.

 Above: looking along the island towards Kennedy Town. Actually, the view looks almost as hazy in 1975 as it does today. Below: Where the large ferry is moored on the left is the HK->Macau ferry terminal, now replaced by the Shun Tak Centre.

Above: you can see the old inter-island ferry piers that lined Connaught Road. They are still there but have moved about 250 metres out and the space in between has been reclaimed and now supports the massive IFC development and Four Seasons Hotel. Below: Look carefully on the left and you will see what was HK's tallest structure - the Connaught Centre (aka Jardine House). The piers directly in front of it was the old Central vehicular ferry pier (more on that in a later post).

Above: looking all the way along towards Causeway Bay and beyond. Looks as though the Wanchai reclamation had just been finished and was awaiting development. Below: the tip of Kowloon can now be seen. In 1975 the old KCR terminus station was still standing (just) but Kowloon still lacked the high rise development that has taken over it of late (now that the airport has moved).

A bit more of the peninsula revealed in these last two shots. Eagle-eyed and HK-savvy peeps will be able to spot the dark blur of Kowloon Park, Ocean Terminal, the Man buildings and a large dark area to the left of the Man buildings that I can only assume was newly reclaimed land west of Ferry St (?).

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Protector - Jackie Chan (1985) - Nathan Road, Kowloon

It took the sharp eyes of my friend and regular contributor, Thomas, to spot the exact location of these grabs taken along Nathan Road for The Protector.

It's from the part of the film when the two heroes, JC and Danny Aiello, are fresh off the plane from NYC and hop in a cab to go to their hotel.

It was really the top photo which helped because hidden behind all that neon on the right hand side is a large vertical advert for the NanYang Commercial Bank (that's it with the red outline on the right) - more commonly known these days as just the N.C.B. The second grab was actually just taken a bit further up by about 100 metres and if you look carefully on the upper shot you will see that cluster of yellow signs in the background that feature much closer on the second grab.

Anyway, many thanks to Thomas and he kindly provided the current day location, from which I have made the following Streetview grabs. The top shot above corresponds to the top shot below and you can see that although the neon has gone and the buildings have changed a bit, the bus stop on the left remains.

And here is the same junction we see on the film shot where Nathan Rd intersects with Dundas Street.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Soldier of Fortune - Clark Gable (1955) - Vehicular Ferry Pier, Yau Ma Tei

Also known as Jordan Road Ferry Pier because it was located at the westernmost end of Jordan Road in Yau Ma Tei - when it was still part of the waterfront (obviously...).

Of course, the ferry pier became a victim of the mass reclamation and was demolished in 1996. The West Kowloon reclamation has put paid to the aforementioned waterfront. The current location seen above is now occupied in part by Austin Station.

Soldier of Fortune was filmed in 1955, a few years before the Ferry Point Estate was constructed just to the immediate north of the ferry pier.