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The Protégé (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

While I didn’t know much about the film at all prior to seeing the trailer, the fact that a film like The Protégé was getting a big theatrical release excited me.  An low key action thriller with a star that isn’t quite a household name (At one movie I saw the trailer with an audience member loudly blurted out “Who the hell is Maggie Q?”) feels like the type of “big new streaming movie of the week” for the like of a Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. Alas, the film made nary a scratch during the pandemic era box office and is making its way to the home video market where hopefully more people will see it. Lionsgate is putting it out on a pretty new 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release that arrived back on October 19th. Order it using the paid Amazon Associates link below.

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Film

When Anna (Maggie Q) was a child in Vietnam, she was rescued by professional assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) after her parents were murdered. Moody found her in a closet holding a gun, having killed a room full of her captors. He takes her under his wing and 30 years later, they still make a formidable team.

The Protégé is a rock solid dose of adult entertainment. Action, espionage, thriller, romance…the film truly offers a lot of things from many facets. It manages to be quite strong in each area, too. Martin Campbell’s action chops are well documented (The guy gets a lifetime pass for Goldeneye, Zorro and Casino Royale), but his work on character and finding the chemistry in his cast is pretty top notch here. Its nice to see something of this flavor have the demands and gusto for big screen entertainment, especially in pandemic times when it could have just easily been dumped or purchased by a streamer.

Maggie Q has been putting in some work in her career to be a top flight action star. From Mission: Impossible and Die Hard to having her own Nikita series, it just feels like the time is bound to hit and she gets one that lands her as a household name. I don’t think this film is that, but it certainly is some of the best people behind the camera and in front of she has shared it with. She’s so cool, collected and calculated here and its just fun to watch her through action sequences as her eyes and face are able to spread a joy of watching her sit and think through things.

The film plays out in a way I kind of wasn’t expecting based on the trailers, and I’m delighted with the direction it took. Rather than a generic action/revenge film it looked like, this is a more thought romantic film and thoughtful character piece. Oddly enough, Michael Keaton and Maggie Q pair for some dynamite scenes with great chemistry and exchanges. Its a messed up conflicted admiration, but they are also both a part of a messed up world.

Martin Campbell’s The Protégé is a great piece of counter programming to what’s going on in the multiplexes. This would have been a more common film back in the day, but now it sticks out amongst the tentpole IPs and studio horror films which dominate the screens and showtimes throughout the day. Its a shame it wasn’t a bigger hit, but its a nice piece of entertainment features a lot of top notch folks to breathe that extra bit of life into it.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: The Protégé arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a very lovely looking natural 4K image. The film is a vibrant, brighter looker and has a nice polish that really shines through. Great color saturation and a crisp sharp picture make up the frames. Texture and details is seen with lots a great clarity.

Depth:  This isn’t a complete stunner, but the depth of field is well above average, especially in many of the claustrophobic interiors of the film featuring good pushback on the halls and rooms seen through doorways. Movements are natural and smooth.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural with good saturation and nice shadow work. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: As mentioned, colors are well saturated and pull in a nice bold look to even some of the more basic colors. Clothing fabrics and upholstery looking to shine are able to here. HDR adds glow to car lights, fire, explosions, digital displays and more.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial details and textures are clear as day from any given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: The Protégé comes with an awesome Dolby Atmos track that really fills out the room and makes you feel part of the action. There is great speaker interplay and a wonderful playfulness with speaker volume. Even the more quiet scenes paint an interesting and lifelike environment for your viewing room.

Height: From above you get debris, characters hopping over camera, ricochet, gunfire and more.

Low Frequency Extension: Gunfire, punches, glass smashing, explosions, engines, crashes and more feel a good pound from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix is a lot of fun and stuff comes in from all around the room. Many unique sounds pop in from the rear and side channels. Birds, a knock at the door and more were set at high volumes for good impact. Rolling sound travel has solid impact as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

The Protégé comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Martin Campbell

Scars Of The Past: Making The Protégé (HD, 37:10) – A really nicely put together making of with lots of behind the scenes footage and material. Martin Campbell, Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Wenk and some others really drive home the film’s production, challenges and what sets it apart in the genre.

Anna vs. Rembrandt (HD, 7:59) – This featurette focuses on the relationship, exchanges and fight sequences between Maggie Q and Michael Keaton’s characters in the film.

Deleted Scene (4K, 1:48)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:33)

Summary

I found quite a lot to enjoy in Martin Campbell’s The Protégé. There is also a lot to enjoy in its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release. The film features a terrific presentation in both audio and video, with a pretty playful Atmos track. Extras are light, but really fine tuned, focused and plenty information on the film. This is a nice little package for those buying the film. This is a definite pick up whenever it lands in a good discounted price down the road.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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