A long term, deep cover cop insinuates himself into the life of a drug baron who takes him under his wing and grooms him to become his successor.
Very much in the Infernal Affairs school of Hong Kong cop dramas, Protege also clearly has parallels with the likes of Blow, Traffic and especially Donnie Brasco. Daniel Wu and Andy Lau both put in solid performances as the two leads, but the humourless approach means that the likeability and vulnerability of the characters of Donnie Brasco is missing, instead making for a rather dry and sterile examination of the drugs industry – at least in comparison. The emotional content is confined to a subplot involving a junkie single mother and her young daughter which feels just a little too soapy and manipulative. Having said all that, it’s still a very well made and intelligent thriller that at least tries to make a non-judgemental stand where it comes to the subject matter.
The biggest problem is that watching Protege is a bit like sleeping with a high class hooker; it may be nice to look at and very efficient and professional, but it lacks the kind of personality and quirks that make you fall in love.