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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.52%
Worth A Look: 10.61%
Average: 9.09%
Pretty Bad: 27.27%
Total Crap51.52%

6 reviews, 30 user ratings

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Art of War, The
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by DokBrowne

"An Eddie Murphy Impression Won't Save Wesley Snipes Now"
1 stars

Free of the sluggishness I felt after putting up with this clearly designated dud, I might have drafted a nasty review with lots of searing exclamation points and some in-your-face social satire. But I really don't care, and frankly, Wesley Snipes doesn't deserve that kind of written exertion from anyone, even a lowly urchin like me. Following a 2 year sabbatical, which itself was preceded by another lengthy absence, Snipes has re-emerged with this clunker, issuing a bold statement to all that no, he is not nor ever will be an A-list, respected Hollywood performer. So long, buddy

Today I am a winner and a loser – I attended what I knew would be an “F” movie under the insistence of my best friend, who himself even grew disillusioned with what Art of War could offer in the way of action and intrigue, and in the end not only was I correct in guessing its eventual grade, but I also managed to identify a surprise villain in the first 20 minutes of the movie, yet are these accomplishments, really? I guess that's what happens when your interest level is that low. Seriously. Everything just comes more naturally to you because you don't really care at all and have no desire to pay any more attention to it than you would to a horror movie sequel or a math teacher. Anyway, when I sat down to record my thoughts, I realized how little I remember about the movie, since my moviegoing cohort and I spent so much of its duration talking, not only in MST3K jest and confused ponderance at this nondescript "thriller" (a genre I do not believe in, except as the dumping grounds for has-been stars and straight-to-video Shannon Whirry/Tweed pornos), but also in totally unrelated topics, as an alternative to being bored. Needing the practice, and a non-violent outlet for my light feelings of hate, I gave it a shot anyhow.

I like Michael Biehn, who is strictly average in this movie but overall is a good guy who has faded from acting for the most part. But his role is puzzling: what motivates his evil? I guess my friend and I missed that part. And who cares if Anne Archer, that old chick in cahoots with him, is evil? In an action movie as this was, she's powerless so not a threat at all. Her death at the end was an unnecessary scene, too. The scene was built entirely around her death, when we could have just heard about it. We knew she'd get her comeuppance, who cares how it happened, especially when it's as repetitive and ordinary as a gunshot by some character we barely know. I virtually forgot Donald Sutherland was in the movie, playing his informative old white guy in a high-ranking government job role for the first of many times this decade. A constituent of his contract to act this part stipulates no need to act - an expression of affected or pretended behavior - at any time. Based on how sparse he participates, you'd think the contract forbade acting altogether, which isn't to say he was bad. He just wasn't there. I mean the guy's won a fucking Oscar (I think) and is a respected Hollywood legend. And yet here he is, speaking perfunctory lines that are way too complicated in their foreign affairs mamby pamby to have any value in what is essentially a shoot 'em up of sorts. Christ, even a standard reflection of the plot would get my blood pressure going were I at all, at any time, invested in it. What I remember are entire scenes of expository bullshit, featuring the most boring, flat, lifeless, zombified pot boiler information about government wheelings 'n dealings, as if anyone does or even is capable of caring. The trailers showed a movie with style, plus Wesley Snipes whipping his legs around Blade-style, plus some Matrix gunfire, and the only people who want to see this movie are in it for those reasons. Who gives a fuck about diplomatic deceptions and other such stuffy "thriller" story details? What was the plot? On the grand scheme it's easy to understand, that Wesley Snipes is framed for the murder of an important person, so the movie must become the addle-brained man’s version of The Fugitive, with Snipes avoiding henchmen and authority, seeking the truth, and kicking some ass. But all the crap with China/Japan negotiating with the U.S. became so irrelevant that I feared my head would explode into confetti a la Kirstie Alley in that shocking dream sequence from Look Who’s Talking, as a sheer result of how little I cared, or even wanted to care. I am so utterly numbed by this movie that I would violently refuse anyone’s attempt to explain it to me. I don’t want to know, ever.

Speaking of Maury Chaykin labeling himself as the “fat guy” once and for all (weren’t we?), the fat guy played by Maury Chaykin was 105% predictable. Nothing he did merits notation. Something - the press release or whatever - credited him as being overzealous, and so he is, if that's what atolls for a cop half-heartedly following a suspect and doing his job. Even when he pulled up in a car in one scene and it was an aerial view so you couldn't tell who was in the car, I knew that it was him inside. How? Who knows? Like I said, take a vacation from giving a shit and it’ll just flow, even the fruitless details such as these. The chic Asian sidekick (Marie Matiko) hangs around the whole time just so the writer can prove that his female characters aren't just evil or have their heads smashed into giant mirrors. Her development occurs according to checklist regulation: she's skeptical, then obstinate, then bitchy (all those at once, actually), then suddenly she fell to Snipes’ beckon call. Fetch me some tasteless video replays of the Ambassador’s murder! Check. Be nice to me! Check. Go say some boring stuff to Anne Archer that will melt her good guy exterior and reveal the cold, calculating, smugly self assured mastermind within! Check. And then she had that sarcastic, coying byplay with Wesley Snipes when she was accessing those video images, quickly amassing to one of my least favorite scenes in all of recent cinema. My loathing impatience grew with every second. Like on “The Simpsons” when Bart knew Marge was coming in as the Tuck-in Express, so he put a bucket over his head and pounded on it with a spoon while shouting to himself just to block out the inevitable horror. Such was my pain. The olive branch of redemption was extended to her when Wesley barked like a pimp at her to strip, but then she covered herself up, and by then you have to reason with that phrase "if you don't put up, shut up." She didn't flash any hooterz, so she should've been told to take a hike. Don't take that for narrow-minded chauvinism, though. If I were a woman, I'd write the same things about Wesley Snipes and his ripped bodice – in movies like this one, sexual objectification is the last resort when acting and personality charm fail miserably. As for hunky Snipes, he, like Sutherland, is just present. He's there for role call and then he just pulled the switcheroo like on “Saved by the Bell”, when Zack dressed up the life-size skeleton in science class in his clothes and sat him in his place so he could ditch class. That's what Wesley Snipes pulled off. No acting required, just move around in a fast manner that suggests he has a 4 or higher in agility and speed on the Marvel trading card scale, and do 1-2 leg twirls that remind people of Blade. Take your $5 million paycheck and start investing in Blade 2. As for the marketing, you can't rely solely on the intended audience’s familiarity with a vampire movie that couldn't even gross $100 million. Let the fx crew edit in some slo-mo bullets in the action climax that reminds people of The Matrix, and abra cadabra, worst movie of the year.

On the plus side, as can be acknowledged of most movies, they put a lot of effort into the production value. Not so good that I would enjoy watching it with the sound all the way down, but hey, give them some credit that they tried in 1 aspect. That nighttime climax in the building looked fairly cool, when the gun flew at the glass, and many of the scenes where they showed the reflection of the rain-splattered windows on the floor inside. Nice. Okay, kind comments end now.

1st Prize to me for graduating to "plot twist predictor" sans any knowledge of the movie that may have assisted my hypothesis. I just used my familiarity with other films to deduce it, coupled with my confidence in the formulaicism (?) of this piece of shit. If you don't see them die, and the movie is about secrets and finding out who the bad guys are, then they're not dead. Basic slasher movie rule, now that I think about it. Wow (I take that back; only truly stimulating or wondrous circumstances merit the use of the sacred and all-expressive word “wow”). For the 23rd time, this movie sucked. My fondest memory of it, though, and what is most telling, I believe, of its suckiness, is one for which I applaud the Amazing Albert. He and I had been discussing something unrelated to the movie for quite some time (this is about halfway through the movie), and he looked at the screen briefly and predicted something that would happen, and then turned away and continued our conversation, and sure enough, though he didn't bother watching to see if he'd be right, it did happen. It's that easy in a movie like this. What a forgettable experience

Oh yeah, and I have to mention the outrageous climactic scene in the hallway, even if I am the 10 billionth person to do so: Wesley Snipes and the villain have a staring contest in the spirit of High Noon westerns, where you expect them to draw at any time. Keep in mind that they're about to duke it out in a hallway that's roughly 30 feet long and 10 feet wide, and that they're already near the center of it, with barely five feet between them. And before you can say "quick-cut editing", they've got the high-tech guns ablaze, missing each other every time! They fire about 10-15 bullets apiece, and fucking miss with all of them! They run past each other and miss! They lay on the ground, twirling around like gun-toting break dancers, and they miss! Then, in a noble gesture, when their chambers go empty at precisely the same time, they sit back to back reloading...back to back, on the floor, sitting there, doing the idle yet touch "talk of the Gods" banter, when the bad guy could have just turned around while sitting there and done the same neck-snapping move he pulled on that security guard just 5 minutes ago, or vice versa with Snipes' kung-fu groove. I know, there's an honor code, and a strict reliance on the formula of conclusive showdowns, with the bad guy having to die in the most drawn-out and ultimately violent way possible, but that's not good enough. In fact, that just reinforces how lame and lazy and content to connect the dots that this movie was. Again

Passenger 58, here we come

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originally posted: 09/01/00 18:13:26
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell not a bad flick 3 stars
2/05/12 Orson I enjoy ROOTING for the villains~they were obviously right!! 4 stars
1/26/10 art ONLY HIGHLIGHT is when MARIE MATIKO STRIP"S! 2 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 4 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White uneven performance 2 stars
8/07/07 David Graham not bad but more like the art of crap. 2 stars
6/10/05 JD A decent enough movie, worth a look. 4 stars
2/21/05 Jeff Anderson The film looks great & Snipes is in good energized form. A PRETTY GOOD FILM OVERALL! 4 stars
2/17/04 Stefan Halka After a promising beginning, it's all downhill in plot and action. 3 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon They may as well have shot the producers stroking Snipes' lubricated Alabama blacksnake for 2 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby An unexpected delight. Kinetic action, good plotting, and a winning Snipes. 4 stars
4/01/01 fishie not bad, but i've seen better. 3 stars
1/08/01 The Democratic Darkness It wasn't good, nor was it bad, but the action scenes were either GREAT or EXTREMELY GOOFY. 3 stars
1/04/01 NoStringsAttached The Art of War MY ARSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
1/01/01 John Lyons Okay, but could have done without the racial slant. 3 stars
12/02/00 Phil Art of CRAP . . . Wanted action, got bore-fest. 1 stars
10/02/00 Image its not Wesleys greatest...but wuzn't that bad either!! 4 stars
9/18/00 Bueller A cliche. Whenever they 'aparently' kill a heroes' buddy, he always comes back as a villan. 2 stars
9/06/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble My prostitute cousin has a pimp who could have starred in this flick. And did a better job. 1 stars
9/03/00 Franklin Pure Ish 1 stars
9/02/00 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Stay home & water your Chia Pet... 1 stars
9/02/00 Merripen dear gawd, has it really come to this? Don't bother. 1 stars
9/01/00 paul C Typical summer fare: Great action. So-so plot and dialog. 4 stars
8/31/00 Stunned Moviegoer Oh my god this sucked, but I knew it would. Worse than Coyote Ugly, if you can believe it 1 stars
8/30/00 jon j boo 1 stars
8/29/00 Greyjack Astonishingly mediocre. The most derivative, unoriginal film I've seen in ages. 2 stars
8/29/00 Ken damn enjoyable 5 stars
8/29/00 Hollywood Hangover Forced, unapologitic references to Sun Tzu in order to pilfer cool title. 'Nuff said? 1 stars
8/28/00 Captain Highcrime Same old, same twists or surprises in this not-really-New York shootup. 3 stars
8/26/00 Clifton Hyre Total waste of an evening! 1 stars
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  25-Aug-2000 (R)


  19-Oct-2000 (MA)

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