Through newHong Kong-based production company ArtforceInternational, two top Hong Kong film-makers are teaming together for the first time on Protege, a drugtrafficking drama produced by Peter Chan and directed by Derek Yee.

A new jointventure between Yee, Chan and his business partner Andre Morgan, Artforce is co-producing the $4.6m (HK$36m) film with theChina Film Group and Beijing Polybona from China, Singapore's MediaCorp Raintree Pictures and Global Entertainment Group (GEG) fromthe UK. Protege also marksGEG's first feature film since its listing on UK's Ofex market inMay.

The film isalso written by the director Yee, a two-time best director as well as bestscreenwriter winner at the Hong Kong Film Awards. The project aims to be arealistic portrayal of the underworld shot in a contemporary way along thelines of Steven Soderbergh's Traffic and Mike Newell's DonnieBrasco.

Asiansuperstar Andy Lau plays a powerful drug lord alongside Daniel Wu as hissuccessor and Louise Koo as a drug addict. The castalso includes Anita Yuen and mainland actress Zhang Jingchu.

"This isthe best script that Peter and I have seen in a long time. We are excited aboutthe subject matter which carries the strong message of drugs kill and drugs arebad. It will leave a big impact with the audience," says executive producerMorgan, who last year collaborated with Chan on Perhaps Love and McDull, The Alumni.

Shooting isnow underway in Hong Kong for delivery next February around the lucrative Chinese New Year period.The picture will also be partly shot in China, Singapore and Thailand.