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Peace Hotel
cast: Chow Yun-fat, Cecilia Yip, Ho Chin, Shun Lau, and Annabelle Lau

director: Wai Ka-fai

89 minutes (15) 1995
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Optimum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
1910: a mysterious man known only as the Killer (Chow Yun-fat) has set up the Peace Hotel, a private sanctuary where any criminal on the run will be safe - as long as they stay within its borders. A ragtag collection of reprobates who all but worship him have become his surrogate family, secure in the knowledge that he will never ask anyone to leave. But his determination to accept all comers is severely tested when the beautiful Shau Siu Man (Cecilia Yip), compulsive liar, thief, and possible murderess, arrives. Soon the Peace Hotel is under attack, and, in trying to protect his guests and the woman he's growing to love, the Killer may have overstretched himself...

A Chinese spaghetti western... Well, why not? This absorbing and beautifully shot movie, based on an idea of Chow Yun-fat's, puts a new spin on all the old clichés, and is given depth by two terrific performances and some unexpected revelations about the besieging gang's motives. Moving smoothly from comedy to romance to all-action finale, the movie makes fine use of the boyishly enigmatic Chow and the beautiful, spirited Yip, who edge convincingly from suspicion to mutual hatred to true love. The other characters are more broadly sketched, but engaging enough. Even a soppy musical interlude pretty much works.

Apart from a couple of ingenious, atmospheric dust-ups, Peace Hotel (aka: Woh ping faan dim) doesn't contain as much action as you might expect from producer John Woo, but more than makes up for it with a complex, moving, and often funny story. It's a must for fans of westerns, and a definite treat for everyone else.

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