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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Art of War
Art of War
Warner Bros.
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted December 26, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

Thanks, but you shouldn't have. Sure The Art of War (2000, 116 minutes) has its gleeful moments of shoot-em-up glory, but Wesley, buddy, folks are starting to get REAL antsy about Blade 2. Focus, man. Focus! And tell Donald Sutherland to put the breaks on that Volvo nonsense and get cracking on the sequel for The Puppet Masters -- who cares if he got slimed by space aliens in the first one. Just don't put the same screenwriters on it that tried to slather all that global intrigue onto Art of War.

The movie: Neil Shaw (Wesley Snipes) is James Bond without the libido. He has the techno-gadgets of Mission: Impossible, yet he's HARDLY a master of disguise. But Shaw's still the man for the United Nations when it comes time for some good ol' covert shenanigans. Like where he clamors around a skyscraper to crash a New Year's Eve party over in Asia. He does so by beaming some, ahem, compromising footage over the Jumbotron and Kung Fu fighting a bunch of Chinese guys before leaping off the building -- only to have his parachute ripped to shreds under a hail of machine-gun fire. Apparently, this is a typical day at the office for Shaw. Now there's a lot of plot in this one, and it makes sense, but it's just too boring to talk about. Just know Sutherland and Anne Archer play U.N. honchos and there's some trouble with a Chinese trade agreement, or something. Bad stuff happens and Shaw is on the run with Marie Matiko as Julia Fang a sexy interpreter with attitude. There's a couple good chase scenes, a really nice crash into a fork-lift, and the flick makes just enough twists at the end so they can call it a "political thriller." Look for Michael Biehn as Shaw's smirky cohort. Mike is also the sheriff in the buzz-worthy slasher Cherry Falls.

Notables: 10 breasts. More than 22 corpses. One-on-one basketball game with hip-hop soundtrack. Puking. One phony beard. Exploding hansom cab. Two man brawl. Multiple foot chases. Exploding Mustang GT. Blurry porno footage.

Quotables: Secretary General Thomas ponders an age-old question, "How do you give a medal to someone who doesn't exist, for something that didn't happen?" Neil cracks wise, "This is New York City, baby. A simple walk in the park can get you killed." Even as a translator, Julia still misses some of the subtleties of the language, "It must be nice for you to assume that I'll bend over whenever you please."

Time codes: Wesley does Eddie (9:30). Shaw takes a moment to reflect (50:10). "Take off your clothes!" (1:06:55). Matrix-ish gunplay (1:44:20).

Audio/Video: Clean, crisp widescreen (2.35:1) transfer. Virtually no digital distortion or artifacts of any kind were noticeable. Dolby Digital 5.1 thunders along with the copter in the flicks' opening scene all the way to the face-to-face gun battle near the end while still handling dialogue very well.

Extras: Widescreen theatrical trailer, plus reels for Battlefield Earth, Chill Factor, The In Crowd, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Whole Nine Yards and Young Guns II. Static menus with audio.

Final thought: A mishmash of appropriated stunts and action-genre gimmicks that expends much too much effort on actually having a plot. Ignore the United Nations mumbo jumbo and savor the Snipes fu. Recommended.

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

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