Love Undercover (新紮師妹)

love undercover

Fabulously goofy but thoroughly enjoyable, this early Miriam Yeung vehicle features the singer-actress as a new police academy graduate Fong Lai-Keun who is thrust into an undercover operation. In romantic comedy fashion, she falls for her target, a handsome son of a triad member who may or may not have a hand in the family business. The laughs come in rapid succession, with many involving Lai-Kuen’s close calls at being discovered.

Love Undercover is a great improvement on Yeung’s previous film, Dummy Mommy Without a Baby, in which her character shares the same name. Whereas that movie, also directed by Joe Ma, comes coated in cynicism, this one is a light hearted affair that never feels manipulative or underhanded, even when most of the characters are being surreptitious about their affairs.

Much of the positive energy can be credited to Yeung. Though she occasionally launches into a grating verbal tirade, she possesses a comedic flair that boosts even the most mundane jokes and set-ups. This Fong Lai-Kuen is a hapless but lovable loser who proves her worth in a way that circumvents all social and police protocol. Her first commanding officer sees that she’s unfit for serious police work and assigns her to the LPD – the Lost Property Department, where the highlight of her day is catching a glimpse of the handsome Officer Hung (Raymond Wong).

By chance, Lai-Kuen is recruited for a one off undercover assignment. She poses as a waitress in order to spy on Hoi-Man (Daniel Wu), a dishy devil with slicked back hair and a dark leather jacket. Her only job is to make sure a miked bottle of ketchup is positioned to pick up his conversation with a potential triad member. In short order, everything goes haywire and it seems the whole outing is a bust. But Lai-Kuen’s quick thinking breathes life, and a lot of laughs, into the pursuit. Before long, the whole team is in on the action, masquerading as various family members and questionable lovers.

The faux seriousness of the operation and the conspiratorial playfulness of everyone involved make this a fun film. It doesn’t deserve any awards but it is a satisfying night in. Besides Yeung, Hui Siu-Hung delivers a wry performance as Lai-Kuen’s superior while Sammy Leung and Wyman Wong as Lai-Kuen’s friends and fellow officers mine their double act for more comedic nuggets. Joe Lee as Hoi-Man’s assistant Chuen also carries an eccentric menace; we are talking about the triads after all. Wu plays the straight man to the crazies in the police department, and though much is/has been said about his wooden acting, he is a convincing lover. It helps that he and Yeung share a buoyant chemistry that carries the film through some slower moments.

It won’t be giving much away to say that Lai-Kuen wins the day. The joy is in watching an unspectacular woman make the most of her lousy hand and all the bumps that come afterward. Lai-Kuen may have begun her career on a diet of crackers and cup noodles and she may have been chosen for the undercover assignment initially because she didn’t even have a dog that would miss her, but she’s a triumph of the ordinary.

“男女關係科” (“Relationships”) – theme song by Miriam Yeung

“勇” (“Courage”) – by Miriam Yeung

Released: 2002
Prod: Ivy Kong Yuk-Yee 江玉儀
Dir: Joe Ma Wai-Ho 馬偉豪
Writer: Joe Ma Wai-Ho 馬偉豪; Sunny Chan Wing-Sun 陳詠燊
Cast: Miriam Yeung 楊千嬅; Daniel Wu 吳彥祖; Raymond Wong 黃浩然; Eileen Cha 查小欣; Wyman Wong 黃偉文; Sammy Leung 森美; Hui Siu-Hung 許紹雄; Iris Wong 黃泆潼; Claire Yau 邱琪文; Chow Chung 周驄; Joe Lee 李耀明; Hyper BB 茜利妹
Time: 102 min
Lang: Cantonese
Reviewed: 2014