A feared assassin first swears off killing, but then reluctantly takes up arms again. A stylish hotel with a strict code of honor that offers sanctuary to all the hunted. As well as a person hunted by relentless killers who turns the hotel into a bloody battlefield. This reads like a quick synopsis of the “John Wick”-Row. But a production by “Face/Off” maker John Woo came before Keanu Reeves’ killer role by a full 19 years: “Never Die”, also known in this country as “Fighters of Revenge” and “Peace Hotel”.
Director Wai Ka-Fai lets in the “John Wick“Precursors collide with the enjoyment of a western look and styles from samurai films. Meanwhile, action star Chow Yun-Fat mimes the frustrated, deadly fighter.
On September 30, 2022, “Never Die” will celebrate its German home cinema comeback – and will be released on Blu-ray for the first time, more precisely as a limited media book in two cover versions. The film will not only be available uncut, but according to the distributor it will also be presented with a new, improved picture master.
» “Never Die” Mediabook A at Amazon*
» “Never Die” Mediabook B at Amazon*
Both Mediabooks are limited to 1,000 pieces each and numbered. They contain the film on DVD and Blu-ray as well as a 16-page booklet for the film.
Long notorious as the most dangerous of all killers, the boss of a gangster gang (Chow Yun-Fat) turns away from his job one day, sinks his sword into stone and, in his killer retirement, founds the “Peace Hotel”: A sanctuary in which strict, unwritten laws prohibit any fighting and all people seeking protection are welcome. After years of successful operation, a mysterious woman (Cecilia Yip) arrives at the Peace Hotel. She is hunted by the triads, who show little will to submit to the hotel’s laws. A retirement ends – a bloodbath begins!
Reduced to the plot, “Never Die” reads as if director/writer Wai Ka-Fai and co-story lead actor Chow Yun-Fat unknowingly had the 90-minute blueprint for the roughly 350-minute long “John Wick’ saga created. But it’s not quite that simple – if only because Wai Ka-Fai emulates other role models in terms of visual aesthetics than Chad Stahelski, the director of the three “John Wick“-parts.
The world of “Never Die” is intensely inspired by gritty US and spaghetti westerns in the style of “The Two Glorious Scoundrels” creator Sergio Leone – dusty, spacious, full of concise wood and earth tones. At the same time, Wai Ka-Fai bows to the tradition of the samurai film, not only in the style of sword fighting that several characters indulge in, but also in the architecture of its film world.
By the way, for the main actor Chow Yun-Fat, “Never Die” was a temporary farewell to his homeland, before turning to Hollywood cinema. Visually, “Never Die” has already harmoniously prepared this transition from East to West. At least as harmonious as a film full of bloodshed can be.
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