Today we’re taking a look at the very obscure 1982 Hong Kong gangster thriller New York Chinatown, a film that’s truly unique in that’s it’s all shot on location in a gloriously grimy early 1980s New York!
This is a fully Asian production, but one that swaps the crowded crime filled streets of Hong Kong, for the equally corrupt and crowded streets of Manhattan. The film itself is great and would work in any location, but that fact that we get to see 90-minutes of Triad action taking place mostly in New York’s Chinatown area is such a total treat, you can almost smell the NYC grime coming off the screen.
In fact that filmmakers seem to go to great lengths to show you that they’ve actually shot the entire thing on location, take a look at this screengrabs from one early scene here, in one angle you get the World Trade Towers and in the other you get the Statue Of Liberty:
By the way, that’s the brilliantly named Fatso in the shot above, what’s fantastic is that he’s not fat at all, he’s actually really slim looking. Which brings up to another good point, sadly the only version of this film we could find is a fullscreen DVD, which crops the image quite a bit, but the worst thing is that it also crops out a lot of the burnt in English subtitles!
What’s he saying?!?!
Plus when you do get to see the full sentence the subtitles them selves can be strangely literal in their translation, here’s a good example:
But to be honest the issues with the disc and subtitles are really secondary, this a is a great film and one well worth tracking down if, like us, you love reveling in the dark and dangerous world of old NYC. Here’s a great action clip from the film to give you an idea of what it looks like, this is a brilliantly staged action scene shot on location in New York’s Chinatown:
Plus it’s obligatory in every vintage NYC film to have a 42nd Street scene:
Do take the time to track down New York Chinatown, it’s a fantastic film with great action scenes, some very odd scenes and all that amazing location work!