Instead of reviewing “Peace Hotel”, I find it more interesting to talk about the people who made this movie. The film itself is not worth an entire review; and while it is not atrocious in the same way that “Ichi the Killer” and “National Security” are atrocious, it is, in its own way, quite atrocious. Like “Security”, I had little strength to write a full-length review of “Hotel” after the initial viewing, thus happily absconding on my self-imposed criteria to write “in-depth movie reviews”.
And so, 7 months past, I have finally dragged myself back to the keyboard to write that missing full-length review of “Peace Hotel”, attempting to make up for a simple statement of avoidance 7 months ago. But talking about the movie, which is a nonsensical ball of nonsensical nonsense, will be next to impossible. Once again, the film does nothing for me, and while it is not so bad that I cringe at the mere thought of it, I would rather poke nails into my eyes before I would voluntarily watch it again.
“Peace Hotel” was Chow Yun-Fat’s final Hong Kong movie before making the jump to the States. Already an internationally acclaimed action star, Chow found American stardom elusive. After bombs with tailor-made action movies like “The Replacement Killers” and “The Corruptor”, Chow finally garnered mass American approval with Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. The irony, that Chow would finally become famous for making a Chinese movie rather than an American one after having left Chinese films for American films, escaped no one.
One of the reasons why I believe “Peace Hotel” is such a dismal failure is the presence of writer/director Wai Ka-Fai. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Wai has made a living “co”-directing alongside Johnnie To (“Running on Karma”). Wai made his debut with “Hotel”, and would go on to “co”-direct goofball comedies such as “Wu Yen” and “Fat Choi Spirit”, both with To. It’s probably not a surprise that Wai would find success with slapstick comedy, because “Peace Hotel”, for the most part, plays out like some poor junkie’s warped hallucinations.
Scripts don’t get any more tripe or nonsensical than the one for “Peace Hotel”. To say that the movie is based on a faulty premise would be understating the fact that “Hotel”, simply put, should not exist in a world where people still ponder the possible existence of alien life forms in galaxies hundreds of light years away.
Under the banner of goofy comedy/action/period film, “Hotel” offer us a story of The Killer (Fat), a former bandit who has turned a hotel in the countryside of turn of the century China into the peace hotel of the title, where all can come for sanctuary, all under the protection of the infamous Killer, who as it turns out, is quite an idiot of massive proportions. Along comes Cecilia Yip, who pushes the script’s already weak boundaries and turns the whole thing into massive Tomfoolery that only junkies in the throes of withdrawal can possibly appreciate.
In short, “Peace Hotel” boggles the mind with its infantile humor, while neglecting that little thing called Good Taste. It is also a prime culprit of Hong Kong Absurdist Cinema, where a fart joke easily follows the mass slaughter of innocent victims without so much as an “Ahem, excuse me, please ignore my lack of Good Taste”. To watch “Hotel” is to wonder how people could possibly think this is anything other than amateur hour. Or the fact that Chow Yun-Fat is squeezing all the poorly conceived Chinese Melodrama for all its worth without an ounce of shame.
“Peace Hotel” isn’t bad.
But it is pretty bad.
Ka-Fai Wai (director) / Yun-Fat Chow (story), Ka-Fai Wai (screenplay)
CAST: Yun-Fat Chow …. The Killer
Cecilia Yip …. Shau Siu Man