A retired old west killer sets up a hotel for vagrants and wayward souls called Peace Hotel. When a woman with a gang on her tail attempts to hide there the owner of the hotel must revert to his old ways to protect his hotel.
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Set circa 1930, "The King of Killers", a one-man killing machine who, after his wife's murder, has decided to set up the "Peace Hotel", a sanctuary where anyone can stay and be protected from those who want to harm them. Although he has pledged never to kick anyone out of the Peace Hotel, he is put to the test when a penniless female swindler, who is wanted by a vicious gang for murdering their boss, shows up. Now he has to decide whether to risk an all-out war with the gang, or whether to ask her to leave the hotel. Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
First time director Ka-Fai Wai, a seasoned TV writer, and producer John Woo team up to create a very interesting vehicle for Chow Yun Fat. Styled like a spaghetti western, the film is set in the chaotic times after the fall of the last emperor and start of the Chinese republic.
Chow Yun Fat plays the Killer, a gang leader with a tragic past. During a fight with a gang, his wife is killed. The Killer goes nuts and kills everyone including his own gang. Years later he opens the "Peace Hotel", a place for criminals on the run to find refuge and reform. In enters a woman claiming to be his dead wife. The residents of the Hotel are fooled but of course the Killer isn't and is very angry at her deception. His anger is compounded when she steals his belongings. He is about to throw her out when a huge gang shows up on horseback. They are after her for killing their beloved leader. The Killer changes his mind and shelters the woman. Despite his kindness, the woman continues her deceptive ways. The gang demands that the woman be delivered to them in 21 days or else they are going to storm the hotel.
A very well made production, the sets are great, the acting overall very good and Ka-Fai Wai's direction is very assured for a first time effort. There is a good sense of humor throughout. Chow Yun Fat is great and carries the film from start to finish. The music is good, very reminiscent of Morricone or the great chambara themes although the obvious use of synthesizers for all the instruments lowers the quality a little. The biggest problem for me was a couple of very big plot holes (at least that's how I saw it) which is sad since the film is very good. The action is not central to the movie and those looking for elaborate martial arts will likely be disappointed. The big action scenes are shot in blurry close-ups with lots of dust and shaky camera work. Celia Yip's character gets beaten and slapped around a lot in this film (the character repeatedly provokes most of the abuse) so you might think twice before watching this with a girlfriend.
A good film for Chow Yun Fat fans and anyone looking for unique examples of HK film making.
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