VIDEO Review: The Art of War
Reviewed by Tim Giles
2400 years ago, give or take a footy season, Chinese general Sun Tsu wrote what has become regarded as one of the greatest military playbooks of all time. Called The Art of War this manifesto has inspired battlefield commanders and Hollywood action film makers ever since. A Chinese legacy to world culture. Sort of like Confucius with attitude and the latest celluloid incarnation has high kicking, gun toting Wesley Snipes saving the world from itself yet again.
This is actually the Snipesters second foray into the world of Sun Tsu having thrown in a few choice quotes as Sean Connery's side kick in Rising Sun a few years back. In The Art of War Wesley is Shaw the odd jobs man for the UN. But this United Nations is far removed from the disjointed dithering politically impotent association that you would believe from the papers. Under Secretary General Douglas Thomas (Donald Sutherland) the UN is secretly very proactive and militant in a manner to satisfy the most ardent conspiracy theorist or One Nation apologist. Shaw is the means of these policy initiatives using black mail, gadgetry and some slick Kung Fu moves to inch the world closer to peace and away from the brink of anarchy.
Along the way Wes gets to strut his stuff from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong to the streets of New York. A man, who does not exist, operating above the law for an organisation that will deny all knowledge should something go wrong. Sound familiar? Conspiracy, betrayal and a couple of flying kicks later Wes gets to kiss the girl and tilt those sunglasses in that knowing way that only Snipes and a few others can get away with.
As with all action movies it is best not to think too deeply about the storyline and look for underlying ideology or meaning. The important things in any shoot-em-up Fu-fest are how many cool stunts, slick fight scenes and glib one liners are packed into the 2 hours. Don't go looking for plot holes and recoiling from corny lines, such as Donald Sutherland's characters desire to turn the UN into a true superpower and the experience is worthwhile.
Watched with a brain slipped quietly into neutral The Art of War is entertaining. The greatest crime that a film can make is to be boring and the always watchable Snipes' screen presence and supporting cast of Michael Biehn (Terminator and Aliens) and Marie Matiko stop this from happening.