Utilitarian as a drivers' education film, UNDERCOVER COP (originally VICTOR ONE, and misleadingly retitled for home video) is a dry docudrama of crime and punishment surrounding the 1988 death of George Aguilar, the first member of the Inglewood Police Department slain in the line of duty. Committed cop-watchers should note the many officers, and even some...read more
Utilitarian as a drivers' education film, UNDERCOVER COP (originally VICTOR ONE, and misleadingly retitled for home video) is a dry docudrama of crime and punishment surrounding the 1988 death of George Aguilar, the first member of the Inglewood Police Department slain in the line of duty.
Committed cop-watchers should note the many officers, and even some civilians, portraying themselves. Only the murderers, states you-are-there narrator Ronny Cox without evident irony, are impersonated by actors.
Sgt. Aguilar (Danny Trejo), en route to a department seminar, spies a crime in progress; a loose group of gang members and thieves is robbing a gas station. During the ensuing car chase one of the bandits, a Jamaican-born thug with the memorable name of Leslie Caron Holget (Kevin White) fires a
shot into Aguilar's car, mortally wounding the lawman. Though the marauders scatter, diligent and relentless police work collars them one by one, until finally Holget is the object of an epic-scale highway pursuit. He commits suicide, and the remaining fugitives surrender. Aguilar is buried with
Aside from a short domestic scene and a motivational speech he delivers in a classroom, there's little attempt to flesh out Aguilar as a person, and once he's gone the main role passes to the entire Department, functioning as a mass hero. Artless as the film is, there are small points of
interest, like a non-mocking portrayal of a Jehovah's Witness proselyte (unlikely indeed in a mainstream picture) who provides a break in the case, and the utter absence of profanity in the dialogue--which isn't missed at all, even as the pic maintains a street-level integrity. Moviegoers might
ponder that the sort of happenstance gun battle/chase in which Aguilar perished is a rare and shattering event for police officers, while Hollywood fantasy cops like Dirty Harry waltz through them routinely. With the Inglewood PD closely assisting the production, this modest independent feature
can be best viewed as heartfelt tribute to Aguilar and casualties like him, a small cinematic monument as stolid, matter-of-fact, and inarguable as the grave markers that open and close the story. Aside from a small theatrical premiere in Hollywood, the film was distributed domestically on
cassette. (Violence, substance abuse, adult situations.)
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