Love Undercover (2002)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2006-09-11
“Love Undercover” is another in what seems to be an inexhaustible stream of movies that put attractive young women in the uniform of the Hong Kong Police Department. Its success depends on the not inconsiderable goofy charm of Miriam Yeung. She is funny, has good comic timing and doesn’t mind looking like a bit of an idiot. Things get off to a bang while the opening credits are still rolling, with Yeung’s L K Fong at the pistol range. She fires her first clip and is thrilled when on of the bullets nicks the corner of the target. On her next attempt her first shot hits the support holding the target and knocks the entire thing to the ground. Daniel Wu is mainly along for the ride, playing the straight man to the comic stylings of just about everyone around him.

The supporting cast is terrific and very well used. Joe Lee as Cheung, the bodyguard, is asked by An Hoi-Man (Wu) why he is always looking around while slipping his hand into his jacket, a move we have seen countless times in movies—Secret Service agents, Triad or Mafia bodyguards, lot of characters looking tough while (apparently) keeping a hand close to a pistol in a shoulder holster. In Cheung’s case he says that a mosquito bit him on the nipple and he looks around to make sure none of his friends catch him scratching it since it would be embarrassing. There are many other instances, as other reviewers have mentioned, of poking fun at the images and conventions of cop/gangster movies plus a lot of just plain dumb but still funny stuff, such as Fong’s two patrolman classmates who, while pretending to be part of her family, introduce themselves as twins, “Charlene and Gillian”.

Some specific topical references escaped me. I know that Daniel Wu doesn’t (or didn’t in 2001) speak properly accented Cantonese and that part of the joke was that his character was willing to learn to speak it but. According to Fong he was hopeless—that the only way to learn to pronounce Cantonese correctly was to speak with a cork in your mouth. It was this last bit that I didn’t get—why a cork in the mouth?

Hiu Sui-Hung has played so many police commanders that he should be on the Hong Kong Police senior officers’ pension scheme. He did is usual good job here, moving from irascible to concerned to confused. His team kept things going quite will—for example when they rescued a retired Triad chief from an assassin the managed to bang his head against a car door, drop him on the ground, trip him and generally beat him up. They were more dangerous to him than the sharpshooter with the rifle.

The various silly pieces of spy equipment that almost always fail include a ketchup bottle with a microphone in the bottom (a bottle that pops up quite a few times), a massage chair that is a lie detector and a camera in a teapot.

Ultimately “Love Undercover” fails—we aren’t able to care about the main characters. An Hoi-Man is wealthy, a successful businessman who is bored with commerce and who suddenly falls in love with the perky waitress—a bit of a “Pretty Woman” twist. Fong, the undercover cop playing the waitress, handles all the insanity around her just a bit too well for us to empathize with her.

Miriam Yeung shows some real acting ability in the extended scene in which she is forced to break up with Wu. Her character is wretched and heartbroken but still willing to carry out her duty.
Reviewer Score: 6