无间道 (Infernal Affairs) made every kid want to be undercover cop when he or she grew up (although admittedly, you probably shouldn’t be watching it if you were under 13). Being an undercover cop is an equal mix of danger, glamour, heroics, and action. It takes a certain kind of person to be an undercover cop, a grizzled tough guy who secretly has a moral code that’s stronger than steel.

But why? I mean, you lose all your friends when you become an undercover cop. You have to close down all your social media accounts (that means no more Instagram Stories or WhatsApp Stories). There’s no way you can go back to your favourite cafes for a latte anymore, because the staff might recognise you.

We’ve broken down the reasons why everyone wants to be an undercover cop for you here. It’s awesome to be an undercover cop, according to movies.

1. Being forced to choose between friendship and duty

To truly infiltrate a gang, a straitlaced cop often has to forge connections with the people he works with. Many times, he even sees the good in these criminals, and realises that they’re not evil, per se – it’s just that they’re good people who are forced to work on the wrong side of the law.

Then the inevitable sting operation comes about, and the undercover cop has to choose between his duty (arresting these criminals) or friendship (letting go of friends that he has bonded with) – or in the case of 龙虎风云 (City on Fire), when the triad leader Fu (Danny Lee) has to decide what to do with undercover cop Chow (Chow Yun-fat).

If we’re to be honest, we always imagine ourselves being in that situation, making the right decision – and then be lauded for it later.

 

2. Proving one’s loyalty while still upholding the law

When the undercover cop infiltrates the gang, he or she is always asked to prove his loyalties by committing an illegal act. Sometimes it’s to steal or sabotage something – but many times, it’s to kill someone. Will they be able to do it? Will they find a legal way out of it? Or is it, in fact, the legal thing to do?

Sometimes, like in 寒战 II (Cold War II), the tables are turned. MB Lee (Tony Leung) has to gun down his former teammates – in the name of the law.

 

3. They’re more accessible to people than regular police officers

Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) in The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) in The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Although uniformed police officers look pretty imposing, the fact is that such a uniform places them apart from regular folk (after all, it is meant to help differentiate them from members of the public).

Plainclothes officers not only feel like the average man on the street, but they’re also more accessible to those of us who’ve never had the opportunity to put on a police uniform. Besides – uniforms are stuffy and stiff (especially when you have to starch them). Who wouldn’t want all the excitement of being a police officer, without the drudgery of a conservative uniform?

4. Living a dangerous lie 

The life of an undercover cop is fraught with danger. He can be found out anytime if he’s not careful, or if he leaves his identification lying around. Sometimes he’ll be caught communicating with his handler, and that’s when he has to talk his way out.

The essence of good storytelling is conflict, and that’s why the tale of the undercover cop is so riveting. The danger of being found out is a constant source of conflict for the police officer, who has to constantly come up with ways and means to achieve his goals.

The greatest classic of them all, 无间道 (Infernal Affairs), shows Chan (Tong Leung/Shawn Yue) in that very position, which is no less dangerous despite the fact that he’s been undercover for over ten years.

 

5. We all think we can be undercover cops

Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) in The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) in The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Besides the lack of a police uniform, the fact that undercover cops don’t speak in usual cop lingo means that we all think we can be undercover cops, as long as we know how to use a gun. And since using a gun looks so easy on film, that means we all think that being an undercover cop means just being a regular Joe who can wield a firearm.

Of course, in real life, being an undercover cop means that you must have basic police training, in addition to undercover cop training. So it entails a lot of preparation and hard work. But hey, that’s never stopped us from dreaming, right?

 

6. The secret identity element

Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) in The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) in The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Finally, there’s that whole secret identity element – a gangster who’s actually a cop. If you examine it closely, it’s not all that different from a superhero with a secret civilian identity (and consequently, friends and family he or she must protect). In a way, being an undercover cop is the closest that we can get to being a superhero – just like how 低压槽 (The Trough)‘s undercover cop Yu Chau (Nick Cheung) keeps a secret identity so that he can bring criminals to justice.

 

 

The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

The Trough (低压槽). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Want to relive that whole undercover cop experience on the big screen? Then The Trough (低压槽), Nick Cheung’s latest undercover cop movie, is for you. Everything’s going well (or at least, as well as can be for an undercover cop) until Nick Cheung’s character, Yu Chau, accidentally kills a fellow cop in an operation. This sets a series of events into motion, ultimately revealing that the greatest threat may not come from outside the law – but within it.

If you’re a student (who is above 16, since The Trough (低压槽) is NC-16) and an aspiring undercover cop, you get to watch this at amazing student prices of $7 before 6pm on weekdays! Bring along your student card though – you may be an undercover cop, but you’re not an undercover student.

But if you’re over 55 and living vicariously through the films (or you just want to relive your undercover cop days, we won’t tell) – you get to catch The Trough (低压槽) at just $4.50 before 6pm on weekdays (you’ll need to show that you’re over 55 though, you know how young we Asians look).

Disclaimer: We’re not responsible if the Singapore Police Force suddenly has an influx of undercover cop applications after this.

Credits: Golden Village Cinemas

 

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