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Behind the Yellow Line

Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung in Behind the Yellow Line
AKA: Fate
Chinese: 緣份  
Year: 1984
Director: Taylor Wong Tai-Loi
Producer: Wong Ka-Hee
Cast: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Anita Mui Yim-Fong, Anthony Chan, Lap Ban-Chan, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Tong Chun-Chung, Zheng Menxia, Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting (cameo)
The Skinny: Late era Shaw Bros film starring three future Hong Kong superstars. Good for stargazing and "Wow, they look so young!" commentary, but otherwise, Behind The Yellow Line is a silly, empty film.
Review by

In Behind The Yellow Line, Leslie Cheung stars as Paul Chan, a bespectacled young go-getter who crosses paths with the beautiful Monica (Maggie Cheung) while waiting to board the subway. While riding the MTR, he bumps into another girl, but this one's a far cry from the girl-next-door type. Anita (played by Anita Mui) is a ballsy, apparently rich woman who immediately takes a fancy to Paul, even though she likes to tease him mercilessly.

Paul likes Monica, Anita likes Paul, and Monica isn't sure about anything. It seems that Paul enters her life just as she's tgetting over her affair with a married man while at the same time fending off the advances of her lecherous boss. With persistence, Paul seems to win Monica over, and after dating for a while, they decide to buy a house and get married. But there's trouble in paradise when Monica's ex re-enters the picture, and she gets a serious case of cold feet. And then there's the dangling plotline involving Anita's crush on Paul. Ah, young love.

This Taylor Wong-directed love story is one of the last films released by Shaw Brothers, and it isn't one of its best. Superficial, flat, and poorly edited, Behind The Yellow Line has little appeal beyond watching three stars-in-the-making and marveling out how young they look. Maggie Cheung is adorable, but gives little hint of the kind of actress she would later become. Leading man Leslie Cheung does a serviceable job in an otherwise thankless role, while Anita Mui is likeable enough in what little screen time she has. Much of her role seems as if it might have been left on the cutting room floor - particularly when one considers how important she suddenly becomes in the final reel. Where was the set up for this? Her HKFA prize for Best Supporting Actress is a real head-scratcher.

And my cutting room floor comment isn't wholly conjecture: along with rehashed footage from the finished film, Behind The Yellow Line ends with outtakes and deleted footage that hint at a more emotional story. Unfortunately, the love triangle as depicted in the film seems forced, rushed, and wholly unbelievable. The relationship - even as friends - between Paul and Anita is barely there, while the main love story is weakly developed. Even worse, the plot's reliance on "leaving it up to destiny" (a reference to the film's Chinese title, Yuen Fan) to resolve everything is a bit too pat and unrealistic. Ultimately, Behind the Yellow Line is silly 80's fluff with some terribly cheesy moments, but if you like Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui, and/or Maggie Cheung, this one still might be worth picking up, if for no other reason than to see how much each of these stars has progressed as actors. (Calvin McMillin 2006)

Awards: 4th Hong Kong Film Awards
• Best Supporting Actress (Anita Mui Yim-Fong)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 2.0
Removable English, Chinese, and Bahasa Subtitles
Various Extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
image courtesy of Celestial Pictures Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen