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Question About The Ending of PROTEGE

SPOILER WARNING: This post talks about the ending of Derek Yee Tung-Sing’s film PROTEGE. If you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want the ending spoiled, you know what you have to do …


I’m wondering what people think happened with Daniel Wu’s character in the closing scene. Did the little kid stop Daniel Wu from shooting up or was it a callback to the beginning of the movie when she picked up the needle and threw it in
the trash after her mother shot up? I zaprudered the scene and it looks like she arrives just as he’s about to shoot up but it’s hard to tell.


What’s your opinion? Did Daniel Wu’s character realize that the little girl gave his life meaning or was he on the road to becoming a junkie like the girl’s mother?

I’ll share my thoughts about the movie later this month when I break down the Best Film category for the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards. Right now, I’ll just say that — for a “best film of the year” candidate — it has a lot of problems.

IMAGE CREDIT: Film Unlimited (PROTEGE screen grab)

12 Responses to “Question About The Ending of PROTEGE”

  1. MW Says:

    I thought Protege’s strong story outweighed the flaws it had. It’s far from a perfect or even excellent movie, but it is still pretty good. My interpretation of the ending is as Daniel Wu is feeling the loneliness that makes people do drugs. But the little girl stops him right in time.

  2. eliza bennet Says:

    Daniel’s character is feeling lonely and in addition to that he has a heavy conscience due to his betrayal to Andy and not being able to save the junkie lady. So he sort of begins to understand the reasons why a person resorts to drugs but the little girl provides a salvation (both for loneliness and conscience clearing since he will look after her from now on)

    As for the film, it sure started with a bang but didn’t follow through. The problems in my case were obstacles that prevent me to enjoy the good parts.

    The main problem as far as I’m concerned is the lecturing mood of the film. Yeah drugs are wrong and they ruin lives, we know that and actually visually well provided and that was enough for me.

    The second problem was the performances. Andy Lau’s character was to me Andy with white hair. Louis Koo did a good job but was severely handicapped by that fake looking teeth and his permanent tan. Daniel Wu was ok but then he always is, never spectacular, never breath taking, he does the job well though. The exception was the lady who acted the part of the junkie mother. I think she was levels above everyone else in the film.

    All in all I don’t regret watching this since I like the director’s emotional streak very much but wouldn’t consider it essential viewing for lovers of cinema.

  3. Darren Says:

    Sanneys right, its got too many problems to be considered one of the best of the year, i liked the story, but it still follows closely to any drug related movies out there…and Louis Koos character was too hammy…especially with the teeth lol

  4. Munin Says:

    I hated this film with a passion and I have to say it everytime I see it mentioned somewhere. It makes me angry all the more that such a pile of contrived, naive, clichéd horse excrement actually went on to become a serious contestant for a number of “awards”. I suppose that just shows the poor state the HK film industry currently is in.

  5. Will Says:

    I’ve read Kozo’s review and Eliza’s comments and both mention the anti-drugs lecturing but I didn’t get that vibe from it AT ALL. Aren’t drug addicts degenerates? Didn’t they just show reality? I thought the film’s message about drugs was balanced. They showed drugs from all sides, the cops, the dealers and the addicts. Drugs ARE bad so that’s the message. I didn’t feel like the movie beat me over the head about it.

  6. Will Says:

    P.S. I agree with MW in that the little girl comes in just in time to stop Daniel Wu from doing drugs.

  7. bigdandan Says:

    I thought the ending was very clear, more so you could hear his thoughts why he was doing this. He just wanted to know why people do drugs,and what so good about them. The girl comes right on time, and that makes him realize that what he was about to do, was something dumb. ( movie ends how the movie started, namely him thinking back to the things that happened!

    Movie itself was great, i really like this movie and all the actors, the girl is also very cute, she gives the drama more power.
    I also thought the look of Louis Koo was realistic that is how junkies normally look like with bath teeths etc.

    The only bad thing about the movie was the ending of Andy Lau that looked very rushed. No drama at all. This is the only flaw of the movie the rest is just great!!

  8. antonymous Says:

    He becomes a junkie. At the start he wondered what it was like and he thought he was fighting on the good side.

    In the course of the story he learned what it was like and that there is no good side in this game, just the chasing of emotions.

  9. Jonathan Says:

    I watched and re-watched a couple times, and decided that the end is intentionally ambiguous. At the very least, I couldn’t find anything that convinced me one way or the other. I thought it was overall an excellent film, but if it was the best of the year then that’s a bit sad. But I think it was good enough that I wouldn’t feel too bad if it were one of the ten best.

    Also, I thought Louis Koo’s performance was hilarious just because there’s a level where it felt like a send-up of the calm and controlled characters I’ve seen him play lately.

  10. MW Says:

    I thought they got Louis Koo for that role because they needed even MORE star power to make up for the lack of female star power. I still say if they HAVE to nominate Andy for something in the awards, award this role and not him in Warlords.

  11. Willow Says:

    I ranted about this film soon after I saw it many months ago. I had a problem with the nutty ending - this guy who’s life work up until that point was all about don’t-do-drugs-bad-drugs and then all of a sudden, he’s shown about to shoot-up. Totally didn’t get it. Totally did jibe with the film for me. The film doesn’t mean to say this (the opposite it seems) but it’s showing that when ya got problems, ya go for the substances. Many films show that, as a matter of fact. Life gotcha down? Pop open a few bottles (or cases) of alcohol and numb your brain so ya don’t have to deal with your problems. I so dislike the way films resort to this drown your sorrows tactic whenever a character has personal problems.

    The little girl’s been trained to remove and toss out the needle when the deed is done. Because of that I’m inclined to think that cop actually shot up.

  12. minh Says:

    My interpretation of the ending is that with all the horrors that daniel wus charachter had gone through and witnessed (working in crime / drugs for several years, witnessing his boss/friend/brother commit suicide, guilt of turning in andys charachter). It was all abit much to take and that’s the reason why he ponders why people take drugs and he realises its to escape the loneliness that they feel.

    Wu’s charachter definately feels empty and lonely. Working undercover he didnt really have any true friends besides Andys Druglord charachter. There’s no mention of any family or friends really. I mean you see him going up on the rooftop to feed the pidgeons and hes saddened when theyve been removed. It begs loneliness. His female partner dies, his boss/friend dies. What’s left for him?

    He was about to shoot up, but as the kid comes, he realises that in fact he isnt as lonely as he thought. He still has her and thats enough - he has a responsibility to look after her. The movie fades out with a shot of him holding onto her. Copyright © 2002-2021 Ross Chen