While on assignment during a UN trade meeting, the Ambassador to China is suddenly killed by an assassin's bullet. Unable to speak of his true identity, top agent Neil Shaw has been set-up for the murder and on the run to ... more »prove his innocence.« less
""The Art of War" was a pleasant surprise when I rented it. Once you get past the admitedly far-fetched premise that the UN has its own covert ops teams, it emerges as a spy movie that remembers how to be a spy movie. Rather than going the James Bond/Mission Impossible route of pitting a super-human spy agaisnt a supervillian, "The Art of War" serves up old-fashioned twists, turns, secrets, lies, betrayals, and assassination attempts.Another nice thing about this movie is that it seems to understand the nature of post-Cold War politics. Nations now clash with treaties, trade agreements, and capitalist aspirations. By addressing issues such as the WTO, human traficking, and China's emerging status as an economic superpower, I got the distinct impression that the screenwriters actually read the newspaper. Ultimately, the plot doesn't quite hold up, but it's an admirable effort.Snipes does a great job, never lightening the tone by playing to the cheap seats. By playing it straight he makes the film that much more believable. His fight scenes--including the end shootout feating slow-mo bullet-time--are both thrilling and plausible in a way that "The Matrix's" cgi-enhanced action can't manage.Finally, the film just *looks* great. Director of Photography Pierre Gill plausibly passes off a lot of Canadian locations as Hong Kong and New York. He gives these cities a glossy sheen, a convincing grittiness, and a neon readiance, depending upon the scene.All in all, I think if the movie had featured Tom Cruise or Keanu Reeves it would have been much better received. Too bad, since Snipes blows both of them off the screen. This one is definitely worth a look."
Enjoyable action flick, extra boost by hilarious message
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It seems that in Hollywood these days many movie makers feel it is their duty to engage in political propaganda. Most of this propaganda is left-leaning and the Art of War is no exception. As an action flick I found the movie entertaining. Snipes has the screen presence to earn this movie it's third star. Without him it deserves two at best. However for some reason the film-makers decided to shove down our throats their personal beliefs that the UN should rule the world. This heavy handed poltical propaganda message is so ludicrous that it raises this movie feom the level of the mundane to the sublime... The idiocy of the movie's political message has to be seen to be believed. Ed Wood's work is unintentionally rivalled by hilarious tripe. This earns this movie its fourth star. For example Ann Archer plays a character who is "evil" because she believes that it is wrong for American politicians and businessmen to give US nuclear secrets to Communist China who then give them to terrorist nations (like Iran). Apparently the movie makers believe that such actions by US citizens are good. Most people would call them treasonous. These little gems surface throughout the movie and add a simply (and unintentionally) hilarious plotline. I laughed uproariously throughout! Definitely worth viewing!"
Great action sequences make this worth seeing
D. Wetzel | 08/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't go into this movie with very high expectations, but this movie wasn't all that bad. The story has been done a million times, just changed around a bit to make it modern and exciting. The best parts of this movie were the cool action sequences. Some of them had that Matrix feel, but were still neat to watch none the less. The acting wasn't the greatest, but i think the great backdrops and camera work draws your attention away from that. This is probably a movie you should go see at either a matinee or cheapy Tuesday so you can save some money. Not great, but not bad either."
Snipes very under-rated actor of our time!!!
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What's with the hate? I watched this movie numerous times. I liked it the first time but the movie gets better after you see it a few times because you start to pick things up that you missed. I am big fan of action films and this movie delivers, yes it predictable at times but what movie isn't. I thought the actors did a pretty good job also. The film also ended on a good note makes you feel good especially with the nice musical score the films has. Wish they would of actually made a score soundtrack for the film."
Boring has a new face...
Nichomachus | 11/06/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Maury Chaykin is the only redeeming thing this movie has to offer, hence the two stars. Maury Chaykin played Nero Wolfe in A&E's adaptation of Rex Stout's THE GOLDEN SPIDERS. He was astonishingly good as the neurotic Wolfe, and made a tepid story-line a fascinating watch. In the abysmal ART OF WAR, Maury Chaykin hilariously plays a droll FBI agent, and relays the surreality of this farce of a movie by having a great time in his character. He alone is the only reason to watch this movie; his is a class act performance in relation to the rest of the poorly conceived and executed movie.THE ART OF WAR pretentiously tries to adopt some of Sun Tzu's maxims, but coming at the end of a goofy flick, one is more embarrassed by their employ than anything else. Although this movie is really about watching Wesley Snipes wander around vandalizing things and beating people up, they could at least have attempted to gin up a less shabby premise.Anyone who reads a newspaper will be totally bemused by the sorry devices parsed out as intellegient geopolitics. First of all, the United Nations does not negotiate trade treaties, does not have anything to do with the North and South Korean negotiations, and certainly does not mediate bilateral trade agreements between China and the United States. Second of all, the UN is a factionalized, marginally coherent entity that can barely keep its own paperwork in order, let alone conduct supersecret covert operations with a bunch of silly sassy spies. It'd take everyone about two seconds to find out about it, and the UN Security Council members would promptly jail any UN Secretary General that tried anything that stupid. This movie presents a total misunderstanding of what the UN does and how it is organized. Thirdly, any prominent Chinese businessman that can buy and sell hotels on a whim would hardly jeopardize his position with a bunch of small-patatoes sweat-shops and smuggling operations. Fourthly, any diabolically "clever" conspiracy would hardly be based on the ham-handed right-wing politics that are demonized in this movie. There is also a total misunderstanding of elite policy perspectives in the US. The attempt to frame this movie as politically adept because it so blatantly advocates UN supremacy certainly does can't get around the fact that the political subtext is presented so atrociously. All of this makes the formulaic plot, underwhelming action scenes, and embarrassingly banal premise the ingredients of a movie that should never, ever have been made. It's no wonder that this movie has elicited nothing from the world but a collective yawn."