4 user 1 critic

On the Line (1984)

Not Rated | | Drama | September 1987 (USA)
A Border Patrol Agent is determined to catch his old nemesis, an American criminal who successfully smuggles illegal people across the border from Mexico.


José Luis Borau (as Jose Luis Borau)


José Luis Borau (as Jose Luis Borau), Barbara Probst Solomon

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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Carradine ... Bryant
Scott Wilson ... Mitch
Victoria Abril ... Engracia
Jeff Delger Jeff Delger ... Chuck
Paul Richardson Paul Richardson ... Jonathan
David Povall ... Pimp (as David Estuardo)
Christopher Saylors Christopher Saylors ... Rooney
Stacy Sanches Stacy Sanches ... Rita (as Stacy Sanchez)
Mitch Pileggi ... Stephens
Anne Galvin Anne Galvin ... Rita
Susana Zepeda Susana Zepeda
Ben Jones ... Texan Lawyer
Carlos Cantú Carlos Cantú ... Mexican Consul (as Carlos Cantu)
Richard Rutowski ... Duty Officer
Steven Polinsky Steven Polinsky ... Law Professor


A Border Patrol Agent is determined to catch his old nemesis, an American criminal who successfully smuggles illegal people across the border from Mexico.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She sells pleasure. He sells freedom.




Not Rated | See all certifications »



USA | Spain | Australia



Release Date:

September 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Downstream See more »

Filming Locations:

Laredo, Texas, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The was the last film project for Sam Jaffe. See more »


Written by Manuel Muñoz
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User Reviews

Strong triangular drama set in Mexico/Texas border , well shot by José Luis Borau and with top-notch acting by Victoria Abril
28 October 2016 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Set between Laredo (Texas) and Nuevo Laredo (Mexico) tells the old story about an extreme rivalry emerging of a border patrol agent called Mitch (Scott Wilson as two-fisted , violent guard in pursuit of illegal people) who is determined to catch his old nemesis named Bryant (David Carradine), an ex-colleague and ex patrolman . Bryant is an American criminal who successfully smuggles illegal aliens across the border from Mexico . Meanwhile , a newcomer , rookie patrolman , Chuck (Jeff Delger) who is in the ¨Border Patrol Academy¨, falls in love for a prostitute called Engracia (Victoria Abril) who has hard relations to Mitch . Chuck gets caught up in trying to help Engracia and marry her .

Spanish/US co-production frontier drama with excellent players and professionally directed by the great Spanish filmmaker/writer José Luis Borau . This acceptable drama develops a peculiar romance , a triangular love story with abundant nudism and erotic scenes , plenty of sadness and melancholy , between a young cop , a veteran policeman who sells freedom and a prostitute who sells pleasure . Thought-provoking and thoughtful script by Borau , he casts a suitable severe eye on the serious problem of illegal immigration in the Texas/Mexico border , heading a first-rate cast and giving a really dramatic narration . This is a 'rara avis' film of the 80s because dealing with a strong portrait of immigration , it didn't please the American public and most reviewers panned and censored it . Borau's conceptual and audacity , as well as the social criticism , result to be so evident in this film that resulted to be real flop in box office . This ¨Rio Abajo¨ belongs to ¨Mexican/US border immigration sub-genre¨ that in the eighties got several renditions such as ¨Borderline¨(80) by Jerold Freeman with Charles Bronson , Wilford Brimley , Ed Harris , Bruno Kirby and ¨The Border¨ (82) by Tony Richardson with Jack Nicholson , Harvey Keitel , Elpidia Carrillo , and Valeria Perrine .

Co-writer , producer , filmmaker Borau develops an extremely crude retelling , including violence , nudism and being decently shot . The flick deals with various interesting issues as immigration , corruption , jealousy , ¨Amor Fou¨ , and including some very dramatic scenes such as the surprising finale . Top-drawer acting by Scott Wilson as a veteran , violent and tough border patrol guard who is reckless enough . Victoria Abril gives a very good interpretation as the attractive and young whore ; even so , this role is no saint and it's hard to care too deeply about the fates of these unfortunate people trapped in the brutally depicted squalor of a Tex-Mex hell . Mediocre acting by Jeff Delger as a naive patrolman who test his own sense of decency refuses to become involved in the wholesale corruption rife . Support cast is pretty good , such as : David Carradine as Bryant who passes illegal human smuggling crossing the border and Jesse Vint as Chief Owens who faces corruption and violence within his department , among underlings and fellow border patrolmen . In addition , Mitch Pileggi , formerly his successful TV interventions and being last film project for Sam Jaffe .

Striking , fine cinematography by Teo Escamilla , including correct remastering and adequate outdoor sequences shot on location in Mexico and Texas . This unknown action/romance motion picture was compellingly directed by Jose Luis Borau , though failed at the Spanish box office . He managed to make a fluid , decent and enjoyable drama . Borau began as a Critic of cinema and to publish articles about cinema in newspapers . He enters the Spanish Official Cinema School where he later become a teacher and after that , he directed documentaries and films . He was President of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ; besides , member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1991 . Borau was one of the best Spanish filmmakers who alternated flops as ¨Rio Abajo¨, ¨Leo¨ , ¨El Monosabio¨, ¨Tata Mia¨, along with successes such as ¨La Sabina¨ , ¨Mi Querida Señorita¨ , ¨Hay Que Matar a B¨, and his greatest picture , the hit ¨Furtivos¨ (1975) that was one of the greatest successes of Spanish cinema and perhaps, one of the best Spanish films ever.

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