Ten best movie scenes where the undercover cop gets made

Categories: Film and TV, Lists

5. Death Warrant
Jean Claude Van Damme (yeah) captures and kills the Sandman, the hulking maniac that killed his partner. A couple years later, he goes undercover in a really awful prison where, it turns out, the state attorney general is killing inmates and harvesting their organs (yeah). He started by giving his wife a new liver. But whatever, right? Come up with a good reason why a stacked Frenchman is in prison, and these dudes never figure out he's a cop. Unless it turns out that the Sandman is secretly not dead and he comes to the prison and tortures Van Damme until he has to totally admit it in front of everyone. Seriously! That happens! This movie is awesome! And then Van Damme is so angry that he kicks the Sandman into a fire! And then shoves a bolt into his head to make sure the job got done! I'm sorry about the exclamation points, but it's actually grammatically incorrect to talk about Death Warrant without ending all your sentences with an exclamation point.

4. Reservoir Dogs/City on Fire
One of the best, most iconic roles Tim Roth has ever performed features him lying, passed out, a in puddle of his own blood -- for most of the movie. Another instance where the cop blows his own cover, Roth reveals he's 5-0 after emptying a .45 clip into the psychotic Mr. Blonde, one of six career criminals (and one cop) that have just completed a daring daylight diamond robbery and taken a beat cop hostage. He waits until after Mr. Blonde cuts off the cop's ear to shoot him, which I would be pretty upset about if, were I the victim of a Van Goghing. It's an incredibly surprising moment. Unless you've seen City on Fire, the Ringo Lam film that served as the inspiration for Reservoir Dogs (inspiration meaning Tarantino made the same movie but put in conversations about Madonna and told it out of order). Then it's still surprising, but only because you're like "Holy shit, this is just City on Fire with conversations about Madonna!"

3. Eastern Promises
Just putting Cronenberg's amazing film this on this list is a humongous spoiler. It's an absurd, Cronenbergian twist that redefines the entire film we've been watching. I hope you haven't seen the movie yet, and it's ruined for you, 'cause my mom called me one day in 2007 and said, "Have you seen Eastern Promises yet? It was so cool that it turned out he was a cop," and if I don't get the joy of the gasp, neither do you. Viggo Mortenson plays Nikolai Luzhin, a Russian gangster who is twenty times more deadly in the nude. He's covered in mob tattoos, which means when this case is over, he either has to jump into another Russian mob case, or become a Zombie-Boy-style fashion model. The genius of the moment that we (and eventually everyone involved) find out that Mortenson is a cop is actually played really low-key and matter of fact -- which makes it all the more shocking, and defines the "why" of the entire story.

2. The Departed/Infernal Affairs
Leonardo DiCaprio/Tony Leung has been in the mob for years. He's an undercover cop. Matt Damon/Andy Lau has been a cop for years. He's an undercover mobster. Their lives are a chess game, and while they're not really pawns, they're definitely not in control. They're prying, like, bishops. Neither of them are made until they make each other, but even then, it's after their bosses are dead, and the world has forgotten their true allegiances. Sort of. The amazing moment in these movies comes at the hands of one of the mob henchmen -- see, the undercover cop is meeting with his boss, and the mob finds out that's happening, and they wanna know who this cop is. So they show up, but first they call (complicated) the undercover cop, and they're all like, "Dude! Come over to 11 Fictional Street and kill this cop with us," and the undercover cop is like "Fuccck," and just runs downstairs like, "Dudes I got here first and the undercover dude is mad gone, I know, I'm just as mad as you."

Then a bunch of real cops show up and there's shooting, and in the last moments of this henchman's life, he's all "Dude, I gave you the wrong address. It's cool though. I won't tell. I'm dying anyway." Why? He's a cop too! That is crazy! Then everyone dies. And in Infernal Affairs, you're sad, but that's only because there's no Chinese Marky Mark that fixes everything with scowls and bullets-in-the-heads-of-Matt-Damons.

1. Point Break/The Fast and the Furious
Point Break is the greatest undercover cop movie ever made. It's certainly the most iconic (which is why The Fast and The Furious is listed alongside it -- they're the exact same movie, beat for beat). It's also maybe the weirdest, which is probably what makes it the best. There's not really a scene where Brody, played by the late, great Patrick Swayze, seemingly channeling himself, discovers that Keanu Reeves's Johnny Utah is a cop. It's Brody, man. He sees auras. He just knows, and always has, and the way he handles it is by letting Utah become a part of his totally awesome life until Utah doesn't wanna arrest him anymore.

If you have to point out a specific scene -- the first time Brody gets a good look at the cop chasing him, it's the awesome scene they talk about in Hot Fuzz, when Keanu, unable to run anymore, screams in anger and fires his gun in the air 'til it's empty. It's a really dangerous move, by the way -- those bullets can form a perfect parabola and kill random people and animals. How does Brody handle knowing for sure that his friend is betraying him? He acts like he doesn't know, and brings Utah along on a bank robbery/skydiving combo. He's so cool!

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