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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/04/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Watchable thriller with strong performances from Wu and Lau, but there's nothing here that Infernal Affairs didn't do ten times better.

What's it all about?
Directed by Derek Yee (One Night In Mongkok), Protege stars Daniel Wu as Nick, a narcotics cop who has spent so long undercover that he has risen to become the second-in-command to one of Hong Kong's biggest druglords, Lin Quin (Andy Lau), known as Banker. However, just as Nick amasses enough evidence to finally indict Quin, he is ordered to remain undercover long enough to expose the man above him, in the hopes of bringing down the entire organisation.

Meanwhile, Nick begins a tentative romance with Jane (Zhang Jing Chu), a beautiful single mother living in poverty in his apartment building with her young daughter. However, Jane is trying to kick her addiction to heroin and the reappearance of her junkie ex-husband (Louis Koo) brings devastating consequences.

The Good
Daniel Wu and Andy Lau are both superb in the lead roles and their father-son relationship is oddly touching. There's also strong support from Zhang Jing Chu as Jane, while the child actress playing her young daughter is simply adorable – there's a heart-breaking moment where the toddler picks up her mother's discarded needle and drops it in the bin.

Yee orchestrates some superbly tense sequences, most notably a badly-timed raid by a group of bumbling cops who are unaware of Nick's undercover status.

The Bad
That said, the Drugs Are Bad message is hammered home with all the subtlety of a pile-driver, while the undercover cop plot feels weak and underdeveloped when compared to Infernal Affairs (and, by extension, Scorsese’s The Departed). It also gets rather silly towards the end, with an elaborate revenge sequence that doesn't ring true.

Worth seeing?
In short, Protege is never less than watchable but if you've seen Infernal Affairs you'll be painfully aware of how derivative it is (and if you haven't seen Infernal Affairs then you should rent that instead).

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Content updated: 14/12/2019 01:53

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