With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, February 23, 2009

ACF 234: Protege DVD from Dragon Dynasty due to street February 24, 2009

Protege / Moon to
Directed by Derek Yee
Hong Kong, 2007, 106 min.

Protege is set to street tomorrow, Tuesday, February 24, 2009 in a single disc edition from Dragon Dynasty. It'll carry a $19.97 suggested retail price.

Daniel Wu (Legend of the Black Scorpion, One Night in Mongkok, Naked Weapon) plays Nick, an undercover cop who's spent seven years rising to a position of trust within the gang that controls half the local heroin supply in Hong Kong.

Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Infernal Affairs and Infernal Affairs 3) is Lin Quinn, the boss who's brough Nick along as his protege and eventual successor. Quinn looks upon the heroin trade as pure business and has no regard for the impact of the drug on the lives of its users, nor for the users themselves. In an interesting ironic touch, he is suffering from kidney failure as a result of his diabetes. Although he needs a transplant, he remains as unable to quit his addiction to sweets as his customers are to stop using heroin.

Lin Quinn (Andy Lau, left with gun) checks Nick's (Daniel Wu) story

As if working long-term undercover wasn't enough, Nick's life is further complicated by his attachment to Jane (Zhang Jingchu from Seven Swords and Rush Hour 3). She lives in a neighboring apartment with her adorable young daughter. She's also trying to kick her dependence on horse. The situation gets even more complex when Jane's addict husband (Louis Koo from Flash Point, Election, Election II, and Robin-B-Hood) shows up.

The film is pretty much a straight drama. There's some action, but not much. It's perhaps a bit too earnest in its depiction of the devastating effects of heroin addiction, and doesn't devote as much time or energy as it should to really engaging the viewer. For example, with the exception of one particular scene, there's little or no sense of Nick being apprehensive about being discovered as a plant.

My impression is that the film probably played better to Hong Kong and Asian audiences than it will to U.S. audiences. Still, while it's perhaps not the most compellingly told story, the acting by the four principals is very good. Andy Lau won 2007 Hong Kong Golden Horse Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Quinn. And Derek Yee proves himself to be a quite competent director.

Jane (Zhang Jing Chu) and her adorable daughter

The DVD offers both the original Cantonese and a dubbed English soundtrack, as well as English, Spanish, and English SDH subtitles.

It has the assortment of extras that are typical for a single disc release from Dragon Dynasty:
- a feature-length commentary by Bey Logan
- a making of featurette
- three separate interviews with Daniel Wu, Zhang Jing Chu, and produceer Peter Chan
- an original theatrical trailer

Protege is decent, if not inspired piece of film-making. It's not remotely close to the original Infernal Affairs, which also dealt with undercover operatives, but it's a fairly good watch, which translates to a 2.5 out of 4 star ACF rating.

Andy Lau won 2007 Hong Kong Golden Horse Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actor

Louis Koo - Jane's husband - Flash Point, Election, Election II, Robin-B-Hood

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