Lao’s Time and Finger Pointing: Tsing Shan Monastery Redux
It’s been a bit of a kung fu week for me this week, first with the awesome Jon Benn leaving a comment on the blog, followed by also awesome James Lew following my blog posts on Twitter and then another opportunity I may expand about at a later time. Anway, it’s put me in a bit of Bruce mode and I figured I could post something useful as well as interesting for the Bruce Lee contingent and do more detail on the Enter The Dragon scenes filmed at Tsing Shan Monastery.
Okay, I did do a post for Tsing Shan Monastery a while ago (it was actually first written in September 2007, I think) but at the time I didn’t get the pictures I needed showing the ETD locales and as a result there seem to be a few doubters out there
So I did you all a massive favour today and I trudged out to Tuen Mun with the three kids in tow (the older two still on their Lunar New Year holidays). It wasn’t too bad, it takes about 1.5 hours using public transport (in my case the 64K from Tai Po Market East Rail to Kam Sheung Road West Rail, following by West Rail to Tuen Mun) and it was worth the trip.
I should say that the walk up to Tsing Shan Monastery is on a very steep road called Tsing Shan Monastery Path (Tsing Shan is the Chinese name of Castle Peak in case you didn’t realise). The monastery is only about a third of the way up the hill and if you have a dodgy ticker I strongly recommend you try and grab a cab up there, although I should also mention if you do you will have been beaten solidly by my 7 and 5 year-olds who walked up there with only a relatively small bit of moaning (ice cream is a great bribe). Here is the view from the main road next to Tsing Wun LTR station.
Once on the road you know when you are getting close because you will walk under the monastery’s pai-lau archway. It looks as though, like the rest of the monastery grounds, it is undergoing a bit of a renovation because the Shekwan pottery at the top has been removed.
It’s changed since I was first here but as I mentioned the whole monastery is undergoing a huge makeover/cleanup and they have done a really good job of smartening it up. Anyway once you go through this archway the way up to the two terraces at the back of the temples are obvious. Just follow the steps up and the first terrace is where Lao’s Time was filmed. Here is a still from the film (courtesy of Warner Bros).
Here is what this particular terrace looks like today (courtesy of me).
As you can see the terrace itself has changed little. New railings have been put in and the red pillar on the left (there’s actually two of them) is a post-73 addition. The main difference is that most of the trees and bushes that made the area quite green on film have been cut down giving you a clear view down into Tuen Mun valley.
There is one tree that is still around though and it can be seen in the background of the next Warner Bros snap.
Yes, that’s Bruce giving Lao (played by Tung Wei) the finger. See the tree behind? Well, it’s still there albeit with the extra growth and missing appendages you would expect from 38 years sitting on an exposed mountain side.
I’ve done my best to match the same angle. You get the idea anyway. Here is a quick shot of what the rest of the terrace now looks like. I have no idea how much was around when the filming was done because the angles on the film are quite restrictive (probably to hide as much as possible).
Anyway, now we have walked around this terrace we can move up to the next level and visit the location used for a scene that, although filmed at the same time, was cut from the original release and not reinstated until the 25th anniversary release in 1998. I’ve mentioned before that John Little provided Bruce’s voice in the restored scene because the original soundtrack quality was too low and Roy Chiao re-looped his lines over a satellite phone from HK to the US. Here is another Warner Bros screen cap.
Believe it or not this scene takes place only a few feet above the terrace used for Lao’s time which is situated about 10 feet below on the left hand side. Again as you will see from the snap below the place remains unchanged apart from additional railings and most noticeably the huge tree in the background which is no longer there, sadly. Again, I’ve tried my best to replicate the angle.
You can see that the original stone railings are still there, as is the small concrete table and chairs you can see in both pictures. I don’t remember the original reason why this scene was dropped but I suspect because it is quite a slow one and interrupts the flow of the film a bit (bearing in mind the opening credits have not started rolling yet). Of course this scene also occurs before the Lao’ s Time scene, so I’ve looked at them in reverse order simply because of their relative heights at the monastery
On a small aside, when Lee sits down for tea with Braithewaite you can see the temple roof ridge in the background.