Behind the Yellow Line (1984)
Directed by Taylor Wong
Written by Kwok-Jim Lo, Lawrence Cheng, Gordon Chan, Hing-Ka Chan, Wai-Man Shek
Produced by Mona Fong, Run Run Shaw
Starring Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui, Anthony Chan, Chen-Chung Tang, Kai-Keung Sze
“It is impossible to love and be wise.”
Love at first sight is destined if deferred, torrid yet turbulent when a zany zoologist (Cheung) collides with an audio engineer (Cheung) at Hong Kong’s newly constructed subway; their courtship’s thence as often delightful as disrupted by the bilateral intrusions of her debonaire former boyfriend (Tang), officious and clownishly conceited employer (Chan), and a pushy, pampered heiress (Mui). Respectively as pretty and preposterous as its treble leads and their flailingly goofy characters, this polished production’s photography richly exhibits them as beautifully as the splendor of the crown colony’s architectural modernity and coordinated, stylish set design. Dizzyingly brisk montages imaging the couple’s pranks and pastimes, cavorting and consumerism scramble pari passu to snappy slapstick arising from idiocy and impulsivity, interlarded with an overt absurdity as typic of the Shaw Brothers’ output as the aforestated technical finesse. This entire cast overplays amusingly, but the chemistry between its Cheungs foreshows future stardom and their reunion in Wong’s Days of Being Wild, just as Mui’s pert appeal sustains her first blossom of enduring eminence on screen and stage. As much a publicization of the neoteric MTR’s gleaming, subterranean stretch as a vehicle for its stars, this postcard from the height of Hong Kong’s occupation posits that fatalism’s at best a pretext for romantic inevitabilities.