Running Time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Derek Yee
Starring: Andy Lau, Daniel Wu, Louis Koo, Zhang Jingchu
Protégé follows an undercover officer, Nick (Wu) who spent the last 7 years working his way into the core of a drug ring in Hong Kong which is run by Kwan (Lau). As one of the biggest suppliers, it’s no surprise that Kwan finds it rather surprising when he makes Nick his protégé. Nick who is running on a fine line between his duty as an undercover officer and as a drug trafficker, finds himself trying to help a heroin-addict/neighbor, Jane (Zhang). This relationship with Jane and her daughter makes Nick even more confused with his moral compass.
This is one of the most no-nonsense, gritty and straightforward films I’ve seen about drug trafficking and drug abuse. It truly is a masterpiece. The reality of the movie makes audiences shiver at the sight of a scene, even I found myself flinching at times throughout the film. The characters aren’t your everyday good guys and bad guys that you find in movies, these characters resemble more of the people you’ll meet in life. It’s hard to pinpoint who’s right or who’s wrong, when all of them had their own rightful reasons for their actions. Andy Lau did an amazing job as the diabetic drug lord who seems like your day-to-day family man, it was easy to fall for his character, and to even sympathize with his character. Meanwhile, I thought Daniel Wu carried his role as Nick really well. It wasn’t an easy character to dissect and portray, with its many shades as the undercover, the savior, the brother, the protégé. It was a delight to see him shine in this film. There are also other notable portrayals such as Zhang’s take on Jane was very convincing, Louis Koo as Jane’s husband and drug addict, and Anita Yuen as Kwan’s strong wife.
This movie is truly a gem, and can easily stand alongside the likes of Infernal Affairs. It definitely is one of the darkest and most convincing films on drug addiction and trafficking, and reminded me of Arnofsky’s Requiem for a Dream. I’ll definitely recommend this to those who loves a crime drama/thriller. But let me warn you there are some pretty gritty and gruesome moments in the film.
Rating: 7 ½ out of 10