Retro Review: Art of War

Written: February 18, 2002

Wesley Snipes returns to the action genre in a Canadian thriller set in the world of secret agents.

The Art of War stars Wesley Snipes who plays a secret agent assigned to the UN. But after an assassination of a Chinese ambassador is pinned on Snipes, he finds that he must run from the police, a group of Chinese Triad members, a mole in the UN and just about everyone else.

The Art of War is actually an ancient Chinese text written more than 2,500 years ago which dictates some of the most impressive strategies associated with winning a war. 90% of this book philosophies are taught and respected today. This amazing text has very little to do with the Wesley Snipes action film that uses its title. The only references to the book are a couple quotes spliced here and there in the film.

I have to admire Snipes’ charisma and action allure which has a lot going for it but what makes War actually falter and wear out its welcome is the director.

Film director Christian Duguay is trying so desperately to be a Hong Kong style action director as he does a lot of scenes with rain and action battles in the dark.

I also laughed at his attempt at the slow motion bullets in the final quarter of the film. If you can step back and remember the Jean Claude Van Damme film Maximum Risk then you know what is portrayed here. Risk has almost all the visual ideas displayed in War. Its very scary how these films are close in that way. And I am sad to report it’s as bad.

If you can decipher who is who in the darkest of shadows then you have to acknowledge the story which for me seems quite lame. The cast mutters a lot of dialogue which seems irrelevant or tries to amplify the lack of suspense.

I don’t think for one minute that there was any real suspense here. If this film was to work it would have needed a Tom Clancy type novel to adapt with an intricate plot. Instead we have a film trying to be a Hong Kong action film with a Tom Clancy kind of story. This films fails on so many levels.

(1 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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