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Here is another excellent Hong Kong crime movie, in the vein of other very good fares that have come up in recent years. The rebirth of the effective gritty Hong Kong thriller really confirms itself. After several years in the dark, 2003-2004 has marked a continued renaissance of sorts, with films such as PTU (2003), One Night In Mongkok (2004), Divergence (2005), Election 1 (2005) and Election 2 (2006), SPL: Saat Po Long (2005), Exiled (2006) and the ferocious Dog Bite Dog (2006) reviewed here. For any fan of Hong Kong cinema, this is the must-see list of the genre.
In Protege (2007), we see again the very popular and ultra hot Daniel Wu as the titular character that another classic Hong Kong Star, Andy Lau, takes under his wing. Amidst South-east Asia's drug trade world, spanning from Thailand to Burma and Hong Kong, we follow Wu as an undercover cop trying to get the favors of Lau in order to bring down one of the largest drug organization in the region. The film is very well done, with several action set pieces and very tense moments. Overall, the cast is excellent. Daniel wu has made a name for himself in the past 5 years and is probably one of the best in the business today. Andy Lau is still as cool as he ever was, and the drug addicted "single" mom Jingchu Zhang is rivetting as she spirals towards a gruesome death by overdose.
This is a violent film with definite gruesome moments that give you a peak into how drugs are harvested, manufactured, chemically processed and finally distributed and then sold on the streets. It doesn't coat anything, including personal ambitions and corruption in the Police force that seem to always be an inch away from spoiling the investigations that really matter and are so close to fruition. This is another great film in the recently accumulated repertoire of great Hong Kong films that rival anything that was done in the 90's.
- Laurent Hasson