Starfish Bay (海星灣), Lok Wo Sha
As regular readers may know one of my big interests is seeking out HK film locations. Okay, it may be heading towards the sad end of the nerdy spectrum but it is a great way to explore the area and has taken me to some quite obscure places around the territory.
Today’s excursion was essentially a “kill two birds with one stone” kind of thing because it was to find the exact location of where the finale from Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master was filmed, but also to check out the general area because it was used for many low-budget films during the 80′s. I found out about the latter courtesy of a friendly Spanish dude called Jesus who has done a pretty amazing job at documenting some of the more obscure aspects of 80′s HK cinema – notably the cut-and-paste output of Filmark and IFD.
For those of you wondering what cut-and-paste is, it is simply the process of taking a film and then splicing your own footage into the other film to create a whole new product. You can read much more on Jesus’ own blog right here: Golden Ninja Warrior Chronicles which is a fascinating read and Jesus really knows his stuff. Suffice to say that the Filmark and IFD production teams almost always shot their new footage (usually incorporating foreigners dressed up as Ninjas) in the fields and forests around Starfish Bay.
Anyway, perhaps it would be good to start off with some screen shots Jesus supplied a while back when he initially asked for help finding the location. Here are a few (don’t ask me to name the films as I have no idea).
In the end it was Jesus that found his own location and my help wasn’t needed but my interest was still piqued enough to head down there and check the place out. My situation – being reasonably free in the weekday mornings – meant that by the time I got off the train at Wu Kai Sha station (Ma On Shan line) I was pretty much the only person there (apart from a couple of local fishermen) and had the whole beach to myself.
The sand on the beach is perhaps a little rougher than you might like but all the same this is a really nice location with a great view straight down Tolo Channel and out to sea. There is even some reasonable mangrove growth. The picture below shows some uproots, but actually the whole bay was fringed with mangroves.
Don’t get too carried away though, the view in front is great but look behind and you are soon reminded that this is HK after all and there are some new highrises going up right there.
The pointy bit is part of Ma On Shan. The highrises on the right are part of an all-too-familiar scenario in HK. Immediately behind it is a development, Lake Silver (another great name, not), sitting on top of Wu Kai Sha station. At the time of its release onto the market, Lake Silver was marketed with unspoilt greenery completely surrounding it and unfettered views of the sea in front. What the marketeers failed to mention was that pretty soon another place would be going up right smack between Lake Silver and its so-called sea view, so all those people who bought into the dream of nice sea views can now only wonder at why their unspoilt view will now be that of someone’s skanky knickers hanging out of a window on a bamboo pole. Welcome to HK!
Anyway, moving quickly on.
This is the spur of land that sticks out and forms the northern part of the bay. Quite well forested by now. I did actually go up there as well and noticed that there had been some recent tree clearance. I have no idea why but once again not a soul was around and it was a fairly peaceful kind of place.
If you look at the greener screen grabs from Jesus’ grabs at the top you’ll notice that the terrain here is quite similar and I feel that they were also probably shot around here somewhere – just not 100% certain. Anyway, the pine trees that can be seen on the very bottom screen grab are certainly quite common on this small headland.
Anyway, looking at some of the screen grabs again it’s interesting to compare the amount of tree coverage from the 80′s compared to the shots I took the other day. Here they are again for comparison.
I believe the reason is because back in the 70′s and 80′s much of Whitehead Point (which that headland sort of leads into) was quarried. The quarrying stopped in the 80′s when the whole headland was turned into a Vietnamese refugee camp (like many other places in HK) and I guess what we can see on the headland behind is the tree growth that has sprung up since the quarrying stopped.
If I ever manage to get hold of some copies of these IFD and Filmark films then I’ll be sure to give the locations a rundown on my other blog. And, yes, I believe I did find the location from Drunken Master that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but I’ll save that for another post. Until then, I bid you happy Lunar New Year and see you in the year of the snake!