Behind the Yellow Line (1984)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2015-12-23
Summary: Early everybody
That a viewer could see the end of “Behind the Yellow Line” from the beginning of the movie doesn’t really detract from his enjoyment of this very light romantic comedy. It features a trio of actors at the start of distinguished careers, although two of them were cut tragically short.

Leslie Chung is Paul Chan, a young man unencumbered by insight into himself or those around him. Paul always asks that wrong questions or the right questions at the wrong times and insists on following through on obviously mistaken notions of how a young man should act. Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk is Monica; when Paul sees her from afar on a crowded MTA platform he falls in love with her, exactly what Monica doesn’t need at the time since she is trying to recover from the wreckage of an affair with Ng Wai, wealthy, married and extremely gauche. The fourth hand is played by Anita Miu as Anita—wealthy, madcap, flirtatious and interested in more than a passing friendship with Paul.

Maggie was just starting to learn movie acting and was doing it in front of the camera. No Stella Adler, Konstantin Stanislavski or Lee Strasberg here, just show up on time for hair and make-up, hit your mark, say your lines, and be ready for the next set up. Hong Kong movies in the 1980s and early 1990s were run like an assembly line, producing product to fill the demand of Cantonese cinemas.

She has a couple of decent scenes, particularly when she has second thoughts after sleeping with Paul for the first time. No furtive walk of shame but Maggie/Monica takes time to get dressed and pulled together giving Paul the chance to wake up and ask plaintively if she is going back to the cad Ng Wai. She isn’t impressive in her few dramatic scenes, such as when she breaks up with Leslie/Paul but the script and direction gave her little to work with. Anita Mui already has her super-sultry insouciant look working, her heavy-lidded eyes (as perfect an example of “bedroom eyes” as anyone will ever see) and full lips grabbing the camera in every scene she is in.

There are lots of incongruities and plot holes. There is little transition from one scene to the next as Monica and Paul move from slum apartment to modern flat to palatial home, for example, but well motivated action and compelling development weren’t high on the list of necessary elements for romantic comedy in Hong Kong in 1984—nor were they at any time and in any place.

Recommended for fans of the three leads, especially for those who want to see everything they have done.
Reviewer Score: 7