The Art of War stars Wesley Snipes right before his career started to slump a bit. Everyone has their nitpicks about films like these, how they are too far fetched and have more of a ‘Hollywood’ approach then actual believable storytelling. But there is a reason why I actually dig this film. 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. 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 a double edged sword for me, on one hand it’s great they did their homework but too much of it can become tiresome.
Story is basically this; Wesley Snipes didn’t exist but worked behind the scene on United Nations’ behalf to influence the decision making process. Things started to get awry when his task as an observer to Chinese Ambassador went horribly wrong. Art of War, by Sun Tzu was touched upon briefly here, asking the question who should we trust. What annoyed me about the movie was the usage of Japanese to play Chinese characters. For discerning viewers, the supposedly Mandarin & Cantonese they spoke in the movie were hardly legible. OK, I guess I will stop nit picking about the little stuff and try to tell you why this film was a decent actioneer. The primary device for generating excitement involves jumping from great heights and smashing through glass.
The film has a plethora of high octane action sequences and some good supporting performances from Marie Matiko, Donald Sutherland, Michael Biehn and Anne Archer. When watching the movie I understood exactly what was going on just by the actions of the characters alone. He worked for the UN and was setup by the UN is the whole story in a nut shell but the trip taking to find out the truth makes the movie worth watching. However, for some reason, the Wesley Snipes character seems to have ESP. In one scene, he comes into a room where his partner had been beaten and murdered. Then, just by looking at the room, he sees everything replay in his head. In another scene, the character sees some guy coming out of a resturant. He notices that the asian guys is carrying a back-pack. He then drives through the resurant, grabs the back-pack, and throws it out the window where upon it explodes.
Wesley Snipes at one time was a great actor whose talents can both be used in comedy & action films but it seems as of late Snipes is choosing the wrong roles to further extend on his acting abilties. He was recently in the Crime thriller ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ but that too got lackluster reviews. The one thing that’s quite clear: if this movie was not financed by Red China’s Propaganda Ministry and ‘The American One-World Organization, then I just don’t know who would have financed such an idiotic piece of propaganda. That issue aside, if you approach this film as just a generic martial arts action movie, I think you will find some enjoyment out of it and it can be used as a sleek reminder of what Wesley Snipes used to be capable of doing.