In 1994, Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia appeared in six Hong Kong movies. That same year, this goddess of an actress married the main man behind the Esprit clothing chain, Michael Ying, and -- while she has taken the part of the unseen narrator in two of her friend Yonfan’s films (and therefore could be said to not have completely retired) -- she has not been seen on a big screen ever since. Consequently, the closest experience that her fans can have to seeing a new film starring the woman known as Wondrous Beauty (and also as The Cheekbones) is when an old effort of hers re-surfaces, sometimes seemingly miraculously from out of the blue.
Such was the case for me with GREEN GREEN MEADOW, a romantic melodrama which is being shown in wide-screen, maybe also even digitally restored, glory a few times this month (December ’03) on the Celestial TV Channel that’s currently available to satellite TV subscribers in select portions of Asia (i.e., maybe just only Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei for now) and somewhat improbably distributed by Warner Brothers. Back in 1974, the year that this film was originally released, the actress credited as Lin Ching Tsar in the offering’s opening credits was already a star and box office draw in her native Taiwan. Also, as can be seen by her having appeared in 10 cinematic productions that one year (only her second in show business), the then 20 year old ingénue already was having to work very hard plus spread herself rather thinly among several projects.
What Brigitte Lin most certainly wasn’t yet, however, was the absolute commanding screen presence that she would become. Of course, this is not to say that The Great One is a total lightweight in GREEN GREEN MEADOW. Instead, it’s that her screen persona in this work -- and others from this early part of her 20 year career (e.g., “My Funny Intern”, “Run Lover Run” and “Forever My Love”) -- is more like that of an incredible stuffed toy-cute lass than formidable woman warrior. Additionally, here’s giving advance warning re this dramatic offering’s top-billed performer turning out to not have as much screen time as its two lead actors (one of whom is named Chin Han but, rather than being the actor who was her real life lover for a time, actually is the fellow who is the real life husband of another legendary cross-dressing actress, Ivy Ling Po).
At the beginning of GREEN GREEN MEADOW, two young Taiwanese college students are shown flying back on a plane from the U.S. to their home country. Fang Meng Lan (portrayed by Brigitte Lin, who is not seen for much of the film’s first 25 minutes or so) is hoping to spend as much of her three months worth of summer vacation time as she can with her brother, Fang Zhen (who is played by the elder Chin Han). Meanwhile, Hao Tien (who looks to have been essayed by Hang Sheng Chin) is a new engineering graduate, with a job already awaiting him, whose relationship with his elder sister, Hao Si Jie, is as close as that between Meng Lan and Zhen.
As Meng Lan and Hao Tien were to find out, their elder siblings had once been a loving couple and enjoyed happy times at the cattle and sheep ranch owned by Zhen. However, economic difficulties caused Zhen to become beholden to a man named Ke who had decided that Zhen would make a good husband for his daughter, Xiang Yi, as well as a manager in the company of which she was the chairwoman. More for financial reasons than anything else, Zhen did end up marrying Xiang Yi (who, to this Chang Mai Tue directed film’s credit, is actually not the horrible shrew that one might imagine her being made out to be in a lesser work). But, as could be already seen in the first scene in which Meng Lan, Zhen and Xiang Yi appeared together, the latter actually not nasty individuals’ relationship was rather strained; due in some part to the wife being the person in power in at least one sphere of this couple’s lives.
Although Hao Si Jie looked to have voluntarily left Zhen, she remained very much in love with him and -- unbeknownst to him -- was pregnant with his child. After her younger brother finds out the existence of the child and gets what actually was a one-sided story of her and Zhen’s love affair, he vows revenge against the man he believes has done his elder sister wrong. This he plans to do by making Zhen’s beloved younger sister fall for him...and then publicly jilt and consequently embarrass this spirited but entirely too trusting young lady (and her elder brother too). But will Meng Lan make Hao Tien lose his heart to her before he does this or, at least, before the movie draws to a close? What do you think (when the woman in question comes in the achingly adorable form of Brigitte Lin)?! And should you require further clues, do allow me to state in conclusion that GREEN GREEN MEADOW may have its tear-jerking moments but it’s not really a work that I’d consider to be an unadulterated weepie... ;)
My rating for this film: 6.