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The Art Of War


The Art Of War

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The Art Of War takes its name from the book of military strategy generally credited to Sun-Tzu, a respected Chinese general from the 4th century B.C. Among the book's advice is to adopt a variable approach that emphasizes flexibility and discourages reliance on established strategies. But doesn't it seem like Wesley Snipes, an otherwise talented actor, has been making the same stupid action movie since he learned he didn't have to act to make money? The Art Of War at least gets off to a novel start: Playing a suave super-spy skilled in martial arts, Snipes is soon revealed to be employed by a top-secret branch of the U.N. headed by Anne Archer. That's new, but nothing that follows is. Framed for the murder of a Chinese diplomat, Snipes goes underground, forced to unravel the mystery while evading bad guys and the cops. Stylishly directed in the most anonymous way possible by Christian Duguay, Art doesn't bring anything new to its genre or even do right by its own conventions, with action sequences as uncomfortably brutal as they are unimaginative. All of which leaves plenty of time to think about the plot, an option Duguay should have closed for his audience: Nonsensically complex, Wayne Beach and Simon Barry's script is twisty because it has to be. As if all this and the waste of Donald Sutherland and Maury Chaykin in supporting roles weren't enough, The Art Of War also offers the creepiest exploitation of Asian stereotypes since Rising Sun (also with Snipes), or at least Phantom Menace. It's a villain who compares the Chinese to a virus, but no one seems to have a kind word for them: The Chinese lifestyle depicted here is filled with unscrupulous business practices, refugee slaughter, mob violence, sex with underage girls, and the building of giant brothels. Throw in some slow-motion action scenes that could have been lifted directly from The Matrix, and you have one of the year's most worthless movies.