The video portrayed Mick Jagger as a rebel who is shot by Central American forces. This was a huge departure for the Rolling Stones, whose videos to that point consisted of performance footage with heavy preening by Jagger. It was directed by Julien Temple, who had done the Sex Pistols documentary The Great Rock And Roll Swindle
. He revealed in I Want My MTV
by Craig Marks: "I wrote the treatment for 'Undercover of the Night" as a way of not
doing the video. I was a punk rocker, and the Stones were regarded as jet-set traitors to the cause. The song was about the death squads then operating in Central America, and I wrote an extreme treatment about being in the middle of an urban revolution, and dramatized the notion of Keith and Mick really not liking each other by having Keith kill Mick in the video. I never thought they would do it. Of course they loved it.
The video aired on MTV, but was turned down by some other outlets because of its violence.