It’s been over 35 years since the release of “Blood Simple,” a film noir classic where we were introduced to the brilliance of the Coen Brothers as a director/producer team. It’s now streaming on HBO and is definitely worth your time. If you’ve seen it before, you’ll know this film is always worth a rewatch. And for newcomers you’ll get to see many of the techniques the Coen brothers used throughout their amazing career.
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Hong Kong has one of the most prolific movie industries in the world, but while they have no problem cranking out films by the hundreds, a vast majority of them are rarely ever good. Consider “Protégé” an exception to the rule, because even though it’s just another undercover cop thriller, stars Daniel Wu and Andy Lau help elevate the material beyond the typical fare. Wu stars as Nick, a young cop who, after spending seven years undercover as part of a drug ring, is finally seeing results. When his boss (Lau) names him as the next in line to take over the business, however, Nick is forced to choose between bringing down the empire and running it. A subplot involving a drug-addicted neighbor (Jingchu Zhang) and her deadbeat husband (an underused Louis Koo) would usually feel like dead weight in a movie like this, but director Tung-Shing Yee does a great job of making it feel relevant to the bigger picture. And though there’s not as much action as you’d expect (save for a particularly memorable sequence involving a drug bust), “Protégé” is still one of the best titles that Dragon Dynasty has released. Then again, that’s to be expected from any movie featuring a star like Andy Lau. The veteran actor’s award-winning performance is the best part about “Protégé,” and though it doesn’t hold a candle to some of his other films, it’s worth seeing for that alone.
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