Bruce Lee’s G.O.D filming location, Sai Kung
This post is long overdue. It was conceived around the same time I wrote this one regarding Fist of Unicorn filming in Pak Tam Chung but despite only taking a few weeks to solve, it has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust as I have struggled to find the time to get to the location and confirm for myself.
When I wrote the Fist of Unicorn post, a locally based journalist – Simon Parry – caught sight of it and wrote a story for the SCMP. During our talks I had made a throwaway comment about wanting to find the Sai Kung location seen in the small amount of outdoor footage and publicity snaps for Lee’s original Game of Death concept.
The fact that Lee had utilised Sai Kung’s gloriously undeveloped countryside for his filming etc was a well-known fact and not (in fact this interview with George Tan on Bruce Lee : The Divine Wind mentions it about 1/3 of the way down) disputed. Anyone who lives or has visited Sai Kung will be able to recognise the mountains in the background of many of the photographs such as this one below courtesy of the rather excellent French web site Bruce Lee et sa flûte silencieuse.
The problem, as always, was whereabouts in Sai Kung did it all take place? So it was back to the old routine of trawling the internet and GoogleEarth for potential angles and places. Now, unlike the Bruce V Samo location I eventually found in Ho Sheung Heung, the G.O.D one was slightly easier because the rough area is obvious from the pictures and it was just a matter of lining up some landmarks. In the case of the Lee snaps one of the most useful landmarks was the small cluster of houses in the background of a few of the shots.
After a bit of searching it looked as though Lung Mei village was the most likely culprit and thankfully, courtesy of Simon Parry’s Sai Kung contacts (Simon is a Sai Kung local, and it was he who broke the news about the Lee museum plans going down the pan) another local resident called Guy Shirra stepped in to lend a hand.
Guy needs his very own paragraph because he has done much for the publicity and preservation of places in and around Sai Kung that deserve wider attention – including his documentation and research of the ancient boulder trackways (basically the original stone pathways used by early villagers for getting around) that cover many of the hills in the NT. Well anyway, Guy is an ex- HK copper and spends most of his time walking and running all over the place and was quite willing to go around on my behalf and check out a few spots. I gave him my opinion of the approximate area I believed it to be and he agreed and went off with his camera.
Guy doesn’t mess about and it wasn’t long before he came back to me with some potential sites in and around the area I had mentioned.
So anyway, now that Guy had pretty much confirmed my suspicions it was time to head to the mapping office to see if they had any aerial snaps of the area from around the time Bruce was there (sometime in the early autumn of 1972 – October?). Here’s what I found – unfortunately, there is a distinct lack of aerial photography for this area and this picture from 1979 was the closest in terms of time and location.
Now, if you’re not familiar with Sai Kung – as I suspect many people reading this aren’t – here is an edited version that shows Lung Mei village (arrowed) and a red-shaded area that was the guessed location for Bruce’s G.O.D photos.
Fortunately for us, despite Sai Kung town itself undergoing a massive amount of redevelopment, the coastline in this area hasn’t changed too much and even better the upper part of Lung Mei village (seen on the Lee snaps) still exists, although the older houses have all been replaced. So let’s look at GoogleEarth with a more recent shot.
The original upper part of Lung Mei village can bee seen inside the rectangle.
The more eagle-eyed people amongst you should already have spotted something that has ruined our searches for Lee locations before…you guessed it – housing development. It just so happens that right on our suspected spot sits two small housing developments: Jade Villas and Greenfield Villas.
Not to be deterred, and confident that Guy had given me some good info, I headed off the other day to check these places out.
I couldn’t get into Greenfield Villas because it is a private estate and I didn’t want to fall foul of the locals but I did sneak into Jade Villas (coincidentally I had been house-hunting in this estate in 2005 without realising where I was) and managed to get this shot.
By pure luck on my part I had also gone to one of the exact same spots identified by Guy a year or so earlier: #180 Jade Villas.
Here is the same view with the upper part of Lung Mei highlighted to give you some context (click on it to zoom in a bit).
What I believe we are looking it is the lower part of the scrub area used by Bruce for his publicity stills/set up shots/footage. This area marks a large sloping area that used to extend up to a second spot Guy identified – next to houses #71 & 72 Greenfield Villas.
The angle of the houses above when compared to the older houses on the Lee pics is pretty close, so I suspect some of the shots were taken very near to where I was standing for my picture. However, some of the other pictures of Bruce (standing bare-chested holding his nunchaku) seem to have been snapped a little further towards the second site (i.e. slightly further north). It also looks as though the Whang in Sik/Chi Hon Tsoi footage was filmed at that same bit.
Just to be sure, I took a snap standing on the road next to Greenfield Villas and the angle of the ridge-line matches the one seen next to Bruce above quite well.
Overall, there seem to have been quite a lot of snaps taken here and I would guess that Bruce utilised a fair amount of ground. Were the shots and footage all taken on the same day? Well, I’m no Lee expert so I can’t answer you that but what I can say for certain is that even though a small part of the area seems to have escaped development, most of it sits under the houses from Jade and Greenfield Villas. So just to be absolutely clear about where I am talking about, here is a quick reminder.
Now, I was standing on the far left of the ellipse for my shots above and I don’t feel was far enough over to coincide with Bruce’s exact location – I should have been more to the right to get a better angle but couldn’t, simply because there are now houses all over the place. I believe the first photo I used of Bruce in this location was around centre of my circle (above) and the one of him with his nunchaku would have been to the far right of the circle/ellipse.
Further over to the right (beyond the ellipse) the ground gets very steep and 1). I don’t believe Bruce and his crew would have gone there and 2). the contour (i.e. ground height/level) would be too high for the shot of Lung Mei in the background. Similarly, moving forward in front of the ellipse (towards Lung Mei) involves a steep walk downhill which takes us too low to match the same ground height. Basically, the area I have circled matches both the angle of the mountains and the ground level, plus it is relatively flat compared to all the surrounding terrain.
Anyway, a big thank you to both Guy Shirra and Simon Parry for helping locate another small piece of the Bruce Lee jigsaw.