Director: Mark Wu
Cast: Ronald Cheng, Mark Wu, Ava Liu, Terry Zou, Chrissie Chau, Eric Wang, Yang Jianping, Tenky Tin, Peter So, Louis Cheung, Leung Ka Ki, Lau Kong, Tony Ho, Jackson Wan Kwong, Zhang Chi, Wen Chao
Runtime: 1 hr 54 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Coarse Language and Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 3 September 2015
Synopsis: Roger Li (Terry Zou), the son of the richest man in town, is involved in a car accident which has soon become the talk of the town. The only witness James (Mark Wu), nervous and terrified, denies witnessing the accident and seems to withhold the truth. Veteran undercover cop Dream Dragon (Ronald Cheng) and James are old time buddies with an intention to take advantage of their relationship, Dragon approaches James to investigate this suspected substitute case. James’ beloved sister Kwan (Ava Liu) is born with a serious eye disease. Her only wish before losing her sight totally is for James to realise his dream of being a popular superstar. It is the motivation for James to join the male pageant “Man of China” in hope to win the competition. Meanwhile, James is invited by a renowned director to work abroad on his new international project. However, the shooting period overlaps with the court date of the case. It turns out that everything is controlled by a mastermind with a premeditated intention yet to be revealed…
For a start, Undercover Duet has nothing to do with Ronald Cheng’s Dragon Loaded series though both their characters shared the name ‘Dragon’ and both are cops.
Hong Kong singer turned comedian Ronald Cheng plays Dream Dragon Lau, an undercover cop who was raised in Harlem and his language often peppered with plenty of expletives. Desperate to regain his cop status, D-Dragon decides to investigate a notorious case of hit-and-run accident. The witness, James Wan (Mark Wu) is a wannabe actor and also happened to be D-Dragon’s childhood friend. Pondering between testifying or withholding the evidence for money, Wan finds himself at risk of being kill. Will D-Dragon manage to save the day?
Because Mark Wu is the director and also the writer, he has the luxury to hog the camera for the longest time. Like other comedians such as Chapman To and Wong Cho-lam, his brand of humour is best taken in small dosages. In fact, Ronald Cheng is so much funnier as compared to Wu and its obvious since both shares the same screen pretty often. Cheng delivers his dialogue in a mixture of Cantonese (or dubbed Mandarin) and English with such ease that it kind of tickles even if the script is not. Wu tries hard to be both funny and wants the audience to empathise with his character but he just come across as irritatingly stupid.
The biggest problem with Wu’s script is that it drags on far too long. Clocking in at 115 minutes, Undercover Duet has more misses than hits and comic timing are generally off. There’s a prolonged sequence that sees Wu’s character travel to Shanghai for a filming of a silly reality show. With the exception of a really cool fight sequence that involve some cool parkour moves, the entire segment can be removed without causing major disruption to the whole plot.
Subplots which has Wan’s sister (Ava Yu) going blind (which explains why Wan refuses to hand in the evidence as he needs money for her operation) and a tedious conspiracy of who-killing-who and who-blackmailing-who took away much of the tension and comedy. For a buddy cop comedy, the action bits surprisingly are intense and well choreographed. For that, we are going to forgive Mark Wu for torturing us with 3D Sex and Zen and Lan Kwai Fong.
There’s some clever digs at the current political and social climate of Hong Kong and a disgustingly, nauseous gag in which an unconscious Wan is saved by D-Dragon. Undercover Duet is not as bad as initially thought but it can be hell lot better if Wu had done a bit more trimming at the editing room.
(Outrageous buddy cop comedy that is lean on the comedy but good with the action)
Review by Linus Tee