Saturday, May 31, 2014

Golden Needles (1974) - Joe Don Baker - Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Here is one from Golden Needles identified by the keen eye of Thomas. Look on the left and you will see a vertical neon (red words on light blue) sign that says: 金冠大酒樓


This is the Chinese name of the famous Golden Crown Restaurant that stood at 66-70 Nathan Road. The Golden Crown Court building still bears the title that gave the name to the restaurant, and readers of my Bruce Lee-related mumblings will know that Bruce himself was seen at the restaurant on the odd occasion, including a meal with Bob Wall and Chuck Norris during the filming of Way of the Dragon.

So, anyway, we now know that this scene was filmed at the southern end of Nathan Road and I suspect that the road we can see on the right is the junction with Haiphong Road. Here is the modern view courtesy of Streetview (Golden Crown building on the left with the large cutaway section above the pavement).


Thanks to the FLICKR Then/Now expert, HK Man, we can see the same sign compared to the modern view: https://flic.kr/p/6WCfaV 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Kui In Fong, Sheung Wan

Just before we see the fight that gets started on Sai Street, we see Brady (played by a very wooden Mark McGann) driving a car down a road pretending to be a buyer but really just trying to see what the girl owner is up to (selling drugs in case you didn't know).


Like in the show, this road is the one that leads down to Sai Street, so when we catch a passing glimpse of the fight that is erupting there between Bruce Payne and the triads, it's not a bad approximation of what you would see in reality - although the place has undergone a huge amount of redevelopment since Yellowthread Street was filmed in the late 1980's (it was shown in the UK in 1990...I think?). The fenced area on the right of the screen grabs is Blake Garden. Here's the modern streetview.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Yellowthread Street (TV Series) - Bruce Payne (1990) - Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan

Yellowthread Street seems to have spent a lot of time filming in small streets on HK Island, which is making my location ID's a bit hard. So bear with me. In the meantime, here is a hazy shot looking towards the Macau Ferry Terminal and the Shun Tak Centre rising up on its left.


If you look closely you can see the Star Ferry plying its trade at the bottom of the screen, before much of that part of water was reclaimed. I'm gonna make a stab in the dark and say that the building on the near left was the Harbour Centre in front of Wanchai Star Ferry pier. If so then pretty much all of that harbour area to its right has now gone.

I Spy (TV Series) - Robert Culp (1965) - Siu Lam Kung Restaurant, Hanoi Road

Here's one thrown in as an afterthought, but it is a shot of a rather famous restaurant chain (still going strong) that once had a branch on Hanoi Road.

Unfortunately I don't know what the address was on Hanoi Road, and locating it isn't helped by the complete redevelopment that has gone on in that whole area of TST. But, anyway, I thought I would put this one out there because recently Chaplin Chang told me that this was the very same restaurant where he was first introduced to Bruce Lee just prior to the commencement of filming Way of the Dragon in Rome.


So if anyone can give me an exact address it would be nice to know.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Kellet Island Cargo Handling Basin, Causeway Bay

This is the cargo basin on the west side of Kellet Island (the eastern side is Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter) and is where we see the Sea Witch in its berth, awaiting Bartlett. Currently the place is a bit of a mess because it is part of the harbourfront reclamation that will see the MTR extended via either the South Island line (which is going to head down to Aberdeen) or the Shatin-Central link. I have no idea which bit they are excavating for at the moment, but suffice to say there won't be much of either the basin or typhoon shelter when they have finished.


 You can just see the Hong Kong Yacht Club building at the back in the lower picture.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - The Tregunter, Mid-levels

Who can forget the destruction of Rose Court both on film and in the book - a fictional event based on a horrific real one that occurred in 1972 along Po Shan and Kotewall Roads. In reality, the fictional Rose Court is actually a rather famous residential development called The Tregunter which, at one point, held the world record as the tallest residential building. The Tregunter actually consists of three blocks staggered up the hill and after initially thinking this was either Block 1 or 2, I am now fairly certain it was actually the - since redeveloped - Block/Tower 3.


A quick look at Streetview shows me that Tower 3 is most likely (for reasons explained here) and you can see the redeveloped entrance along Old Peak Road below.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Hotel Bela Vista, Macau

Here's a picture I have had to use before when I did a full post on another one of Macau's famous hotels. In this case it is the Bela Vista. At the time of filming this was still operating as a hotel (and commentator Neil MacDonald who later worked with Pierce Brosnan on Around the World in 80 Days told us that this hotel was a major filming location for that later series) and it wasn't until over 10 years later - following the 'handover' of Macau to China in December 1999 - that it was first used as it current occupation as the residence of the Portuguese Consul in Macau.


In the screen grab, the Rolls Royce is driving its occupants along the Avenida da Republica, at the time it was a seafront road, but even that small bit of sea we can see above has now been enclosed into what is now known as Sai Van Lake.

The sea wall remains unchanged however, and here is a Streetview grab from the other side of the new lake. You can see the, now, Portuguese Consul's residence centre screen to the right of the lamppost.


Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Marine Pier, Macau

I've bundled these two together because they are essentially the same location, just a small square separating them from each other. The first is the marine pier where Dunross' boat pulls in and ties up.


Back in the late 80's the pier was still just that - a pier - but there has been much development of this area including road construction and now the access to the open water is blocked by a highway called the Avenida Panoramica do Lago Sai Van. In fact the only decent Streetview shot I can get of the pier is taken from this very same highway - it's not completely obvious but the small strip of water where the pier still sits is now completely landlocked.


Across Barra Square is perhaps the second most famous sightseeing spot in Macau - the A-Mah temple. Here it is peeking through the archway of the pier, it's very distinctive with its red-painted walls.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Lisboa Hotel, Macau

Continuing with a whistle-stop tour of Macau, we now see the regal Rolls Royce rolling past the very famous Lisboa Hotel and Casino. This was Stanley Ho's centrepiece of his gambling monopoly in Macau and I have to admit I find the garish colours and circular-styling quite appealing. This casino is still around although since the Ho clan lost their monopoly, Macau has just grown into a huge gambling territory with casinos and resort hotels popping up all over the place (though largely centred on a piece of reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane called The Cotai Strip).


I have actually been in this casino back in 1996. It was interesting to see the various games such as fan tan and big/small, but the thing you really have to watch out for is that almost every floor is saturated with young Chinese prostitutes all doing the rounds. They rent rooms for the day and then head downstairs to ply their trade. Not the most salubrious of places to spend your time for many reasons. Just to the left of this shot is the location of Ho's new Grand Lisboa stands. It wins the prize for being the most gaudy, over-the-top, garish piece of architecture ever seen and truly ruins the Macau cityscape.

What we can see in the above picture though is the old statue of Joao Maria Ferreira do Amaral which stood at the centre of the roundabout in front of the hotel. Ferreira do Amaral was a bit of a thorn in the side of the Chinese and it's common knowledge that the statue was eventually removed (and shipped back to Portugal) so as not to piss off the Chinese when they retook Macau in 1999.

To be honest, the modern version of the roundabout is a complete mess as you can see courtesy of Streetview below (yes, that gold thing on the left is the Grand Lisboa...)

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - St Paul's Church Facade, Macau

Moving over to Macau, when Dunross and Tcholok head out to supposedly visit Lando Mata in his Macau retreat (which was in fact located in Shek O on HK Island). Anyway, it's a good excuse for the film makers to give us some of the main sights in Macau including perhaps its most famous facade of St Pauls.



The eighties was still a time when you could still get a clear view of the place before the thousands of Mainland Tourists turned up and chaos ensued. These days the place is so busy it's unbelievable.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Cleverly Street, Sheung Wan

Here's another one courtesy of the indefatigable Thomas. It involves the scene when there is a run on the Aberdeen branch of the Ho Pak Bank. I think we can all agree that this shots shows the typical anonymous kind of HK-scene that makes location hunting quite a challenge.


But anyway, thanks to Thomas' efforts we can now confirm that this is Cleverly Street in Sheung Wan. It's hard to believe it considering the way it looks today (a whole chunk of buildings on the left hand side have been removed to make way for a sitting out area). The bank building was located to the right of the policemen at the junction with Burd Street.

Unfortunately the current Streetview has a big truck blocking much of the scene, but I've included it anyway just to give you an idea of how much things can change.


As you can see, most of the surroundings have been redeveloped, and it may come as no surprise to find out that the Jervois Street location I posted about here is actually only about 100 yards away from this location.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Jervois Street, Hong Kong

Here is another location identified by Thomas. These is the scene when the old A-Mah is followed back to her house by the police (played by an uncredited Stuart Ong I think?) and there is a shot of her on the balcony doing some spring cleaning. I think regulars around the Jervois St area will be quite familiar with the building next to the Amah because it is still standing even if the old block she is in has since been redeveloped.


The modern day comparison is supplied by  Thomas, so many thanks to him for the ID as well as the picture. In case you don't know, the grey building now stands where the older one stood, but as you can see the shophouse next door hasn't changed a bit.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Nam Chung, New Territories

Many thanks to Angus for getting this location that had originally caused me some trouble. This is actually Luk Keng Road way up in the sticks next to Starling Inlet. In the series it is supposed to be rural China as Dunross heads to Beijing to strike a deal with the powers that be.


The village you can see in the background of the first picture is called Nam Chung Yeung Uk and looks pretty much as it did back when the series was made. The relative difficulty of getting to this location means it has escaped the worst of the village house development that has run rampant in more popular parts of the New Territories (I'm sure that will change though). Here is an approximate Streetview.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Stanley Bay, Hong Kong

This next location initially had me completely stumped because I just could not place it anywhere. Then along came my good friend Thomas to the rescue and identified it as Stanley Bay before the redevelopment works that removed the shanty town and moved the seafront several metres down the beach.

Anyone who is familiar with Stanley today would be astonished to see that Stanley Bay actually had a sandy beach at all - these days the promenade and playground by Stanley Main Street has encroached on pretty much all that was there and left a rather stony, rocky cove. In fact, pretty much all of those buildings you can lining the seafront are still there - it's just that they now have the Stanley Waterfront Playground in front of them.

The lower picture is looking west towards a shanty town called Ma Hang Village. Ma Hang occupied the coastal area that is now taken up by the *ahem* "reconstructed" Murray Barrack building and Blake Pier.


One of the great comments that came out of this original post over on my old Wordpress blog post was left by a former (anonymous) Policeman Inspector who was in charge of Stanley the day the film crew arrived. I've copy/pasted his comments below because they're worth preserving.

Stanley Boy Says:
Hi there. 
I was a Police Inspector in charge of Stanley Sub-division in the mid-1980′s. I was required to live in a quarter within the station during my term of office. I will never forget the day that the film company responsible for the making of Noble House “descended” on Stanley early one morning, with all their vehicles, and effectively took over the waterfront on Stanley Main Street. 
My people called me at the station and I remember rushing down to the location, getting hold of whoever was in charge from the film company, and giving them 10 minutes to get all their vehicles out of Stanley village. Many of the Stanley villagers were not best-pleased at having the whole street taken over by such vehicles as Pierce Brosnan’s trailer and goodness knows what. The film company were not happy but complied with my instruction. 
Incidentally the beach at that location, at that time, was NOT attractive. It was little more than an open sewer. It was very rocky and bore no resemblance to the rather more attractive Stanley Main Beach or St. Stephen’s Beach nearby. The “gentrification” of Stanley Main Street, including the pedestrianisation of the bar/restaurant area, and the elimination of the ghastly Ma Hang Squatter Area, (with its pig breeding activities), are some of the finer achievements of the HK Government. The reconstruction of Murray House and Blake Pier at that location is also commendable, in my opinion.
My memories (particularly of that period) were very happy ones! Obviously it wasn’t every day that we had an international film company descend on our peaceful little village and take it over, but it certainly livened up the place when it did happen. Problems involving filming at various public locations in Stanley were not uncommon, to the best of my recollection, and I often had to respond to complaints from the public regarding location filming.
The question of filming in Hong Kong is covered in detail on the following website: -http://www.fso-createhk.gov.hk/main/guidetofilming.phpThat website also covers the contentious issue of triad involvement in location filming.
To add some icing on the cake, Neil MacDonald, who regular readers will know from a while back and the great comments he left on this blog (worthy of their own post) was, coincidentally, a location manager for Salon Films, who helped produce the Noble House series and was also a policeman for a time. Here are his comments as well:

Neil MacDonald says:
Interesting comments from Stanley Boy… I probably know him as his time in the force would appear to coincide roughly with mine.  
I don’t know if anyone managed for the filming of Noble House, but I always informed the police when we were going to film in particular locations. But we would often deal with what was known as the Police Public Relations Bureau (PPRB) who were ‘supposed’ to let the relevant regions/districts/divisions know – as I knew they didn’t always bother, I would often seek out the appropriate divisional commander and inform them personally.
Also, I’d like to reply to Stanley Boy’s comments regarding people complaining about film units, though I can only speak for my film crews and shoots I was involved with.
We never parked in places where it obstructed people from going about their legitimate business; and if we did require a location which might affect their business we would ALWAYS negotiate with, and often paid them, beforehand. The people who complained the loudest and most often fell into two camps; either one, they were people who had tried to extort money from us by placing themselves in front of camera unless we paid them not to (I made it a matter of course that we refused), or two, they were hawkers, street vendors without licenses who felt their trade had been affected by our presence. I would say yes, we did sometimes cause traffic problems because of the number of vehicles we often needed, but that was often the reason we spoke to both the traffic police and PPRB beforehand.
 
With regard to triads – with some locations they were a problem, in the vast majority they were not. Though as is always the way with the Chinese, it’s really only ever about business. 
Many of the hawkers, street vendors etc. had ‘protection’ from supposed triad members – basically, they just paid the tough guys so they could conduct their illegal businesses uninterrupted. If we were filming street scenes, it would sometimes behove us to speak with the triads (and pay them) to ensure the street trades under their protection didn’t kick up a fuss or try to stop us filming. Rarely, if ever, did we put ourselves in a location which was DIRECTLY involved with a triad activity – prostitution and brothels, drugs and the dealers, that sort of thing. 
Only once did I have a serious problem with the gangs and that was when I was filming ‘Cracker’ for Granada TV. We were in and around Lockhart Road, on the streets, at night. All the bars were open. One of my HK-resident but American-born stunt guys became a bit of a dick and confronted a local triad who’d got in the face of Robbie Coltrane. 
Mistake. 
I was shortly approached by two senior triad members who told me we were not going to be prevented from filming any longer and that it was better we stopped before they stopped us. I offered them HK$50k to carry on, which they declined; they weren’t holding out for money, they simply decided they didn’t want us there. So I wrapped the unit after just four or five hours filming. The British producers were livid, but then of course they didn’t understand… 
I spoke to the senior triad guys the following day, and arranged for us to return to complete the scenes the next day. No problems. And then he told me what the issue had been....That night had been a long-earmarked night in the triad calendar. Two top gangs had agreed to meet in a Wanchai restaurant to discuss who was going to have control over what area – and they were concerned an altercation between our film unit and low level ‘enforcers’ would attract the police to the area and they didn’t want that. So they shut us down. It was, after all, only business.
So there you go, a great bit of behind-the-scenes info and many thanks to everyone who participated. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Government House, Central

Here we see a nice bit of HK real estate that should be familiar to pretty much everybody, it's the ex-Governer's Mansion in Central: Government House. Of course this place was famously shunned by the post-handover Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, but little good it did him because he didn't last very long. Once a year this place is thrown open to the public so they can wander through the gardens and a little bit of the interior of the house. I did go one year and it was a nice day out and very, very popular. We went later in the day when the crowds had died down, but if you are over you should find out when this happens.

The top picture shows us looking east along Upper Albert Road, you can see the rather funky St Joseph's Church where the road splits. The camera must have been positioned on the terrace in the Botanical Gardens to get this view, because it gives a great view through the main gates of the house (second picture).

This final shot is fairly long distance and the angle means it is quite possible it was taken from The Peak. It gives a hazy but wide-angle view of the building with its Japanese Occupation added tower. It's hard to imagine the house once had unfettered views over the harbour - a view now completely obscured by buildings.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - The Cenotaph, Central

This area is off-limits to pedestrians these days but it does appear, at some point in the past, to have been freely accessible to the public. The other thing to notice in this scene, which I had failed to do previously, is that the Standard Chartered building is missing beside the HSBC building. This puts a date on the filming sometime around 1987. According to wiki, the Palmer and Turner (now P&T) designed current building didn't start construction until March of that year. In this scene it looks like an empty space, so whether or not that counts as construction started I have no idea.

Although I failed to capture it in the screen grabs below, the Cenotaph was only recently (Nov 2013) declared a protected monument. Modeled on the very same Cenotaph back in London, this one was originally erected in 1923 to commemorate the Great War, but obviously has since been changed to remember World War Two as well - quite apt seeing as the structure still shows obvious signs of damage from bullets fired during the defence against the Japanese invasion in December 1941.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Harbourfront Promenade, Tsim Sha Tsui

The Avenue of Stars is currently shut undergoing some sort of half-hearted renovation, but here is a quick picture of what it used to looks like before the nonsense ensued. Not much difference other than there is a clear lack of Mainland tourists and the view isn't obscured by some naff plastic photo-op construction.

Anyway, here we see the place as it was - just a normal waterfront promenade. This is where Bartlett and Ramos go for a little walk. Thankfully they picked a day when the opposite wasn't obscured by the more usual blanket of thick smog that has descended on the place over the past few years. Look carefully and you will be able to make out the area around Central: the Tamar building, the old Furama Hotel, City Hall, Hutchison House, Mandarin Oriental, HSBC etc.

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Man Mo Temple, Hollywood Road

This is another one of those places that has been used several times before. But here we see it at night time as Philip Chen (played by Burt Kwouk...RIP) goes about his not-so-legit business i.e. trying to deliver the ransom money to his son's kidnappers.

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