Wei Shen: The Duality of Identity and Loyalty in Sleeping Dogs

Balancing Duty and Deception in the Underworld of Hong Kong.

Exploring The Complex Wei Shen
Exploring The Complex Wei Shen

Listen to me carefully! You are a member of a well-established and notorious gang. You will carry out jobs for the gang and might have to make hard calls to kill someone as well. All of that while also working as a police informer. In the eyes of your gang leader, you are one hell of a loyal member, but deep down, you are ratting your members out to the police.

“So, what am I? Micah Bell from Red Dead Redemption 2?”

“What? No, you fool!” I shouted annoyingly at my friend, who hadn’t played anything besides RDR2. “Not every rat has to be Micah Bell. Sometimes, such characters exist in modern settings, too. They just betray their crew members to get out of that filth.”

“Hmm, that sounds so American. What character am I playing, then? FIB’s lapdog, Michael from GTA V?”

Key Takeaways

  • Sleeping Dogs is Square Enix’s hidden gem. With an open-world setting in Hong Kong, the game did a commendable job of balancing the two identities of the protagonist, often raising ethical and moral questions.

I don’t blame my friend for being too unaware of the classic Sleeping Dogs game. And, of course, as an audience, I can’t blame you guys either. That game itself was severely underlooked.

Now that people have finally played Sleeping Dogs, it is known as the “GTA Clone.” The game deserved to have its own identity. After all, it was a perfect blend of open-world and mixed martial arts set in the crime world of Hong Kong.

Besides the best mechanics and great combat, the protagonist’s dual identity did the work for me.

Gangster From Outside, Police Officer From Inside

Slipping into the role of Wei Shen in Sleeping Dogs, the complexity of the character instantly struck me. I was tense and conflicted about infiltrating the dangerous Triad organization as an undercover cop. Shen’s dual identity as a gang member and a law enforcer made me question my loyalty, morality, and, most importantly, my identity.

Wei Shen.
Wei Shen.

The Undercover Dilemma

From the outset, my mission was clear: infiltrate, gather evidence, and cripple the Sun On Yee Triad from within. However, this wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Sooner, it became evident that Wei Shan’s identity forced him to walk on a razor edge, making the missions anything but straightforward.

This entire dual approach makes Wei Shen a handsomely compelling character. On the one hand, he is fueled by his traumatic past, driven by a desire for justice and the need to protect his community. On the other hand, he must adapt to the criminal lifestyle he initially aimed to dismantle.

The constant push and pull of tension kept me engrossed in this problematic narrative. 

The Loyalty Test 

Wei’s journey is bumpy due to constant loyalty tests. At one point, Wei is suspected by the Water Street boys of being a cop. To show his sincerity with the gang, he is sent to kill one of Dogeyes’ drug dealers, Siu Wah. Wei instead brings him alive, thus gaining Winston’s trust.

Abducting Siu Wah.Source: BOSS FIGHTS, YouTube
Abducting Siu Wah.
Source: BOSS FIGHTS, YouTube

As I navigated through the ranks of Triad, I formed a genuine bond with characters like Jackie Ma, Wei’s childhood friend and Triad lieutenant Winston. In fact, they became a family in many ways.

These relationships further complicated Wei’s mission and gave birth to questions that I had to confront repeatedly. How do you betray someone who trusts you blindly? Why do you feel the need to drag those folks to places of confinement who have saved you repeatedly? These questions put an extra burden on Wei’s shoulders.

The Cost of Duality

*contains spoilers*

As you progress through the game, your duality will come at a certain cost during Winston’s wedding. As the Dogeyes’s goons carry out a shootout, the supposed joyous occasion turns into a bloodbath, leaving Winston and his bride dead. The emotional toll on Wei of losing his childhood friend was a heartbreaking experience.

Murder of Winston and his fiancé, Peggy.
Murder of Winston and his fiancé, Peggy.

At some points, maintaining his cover means committing acts that are to be morally and legally condemned. As I carried out these acts, from brutal beatings to cold-blooded murders, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of conflict. Each of these acts of violence blurred Wei Shen’s sense of right and wrong.

Identity Crisis

Wei Shen’s dual identity often leads to an identity crisis. His gang member persona started to take over his cop rank. The loyalty he experiences within the Triad organization felt more genuine than his connections to the police force.

The shift of duties and loyalties was reinforced throughout the game’s narrative, making me question who Wei Shen truly is.

Did he shape his life based on the violent ways of Triad? Or was he truly committed to his duty as a police officer? The question arose every time Wei Shen took out a job for Triad.

A Complex Protagonist

Sleeping Dogs brilliantly explored the duality of identity and loyalty of Wei Shen. As an undercover cop operating within the crime world, it was one hell of a story of internal conflict and moral ambiguity.

Wei Shen is not a typical hero but an individual torn between two worlds. This complexity in an open-world genre made my time in Wei’s shoes unforgettable.

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