The Art of War (film)

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The Art of War
Art of war poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Christian Duguay
Produced by Nicolas Clermont
Screenplay by
  • Wayne Beach
  • Simon Barry
Story by Wayne Beach
Starring
Music by Normand Corbeil
Cinematography Pierre Gill
Edited by Michel Arcand
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • August 25, 2000 (2000-08-25)
Running time 117 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office $40.4 million[1]

The Art of War is a 2000 Canadian-American action film directed by Christian Duguay, starring Wesley Snipes, Michael Biehn, Anne Archer and Donald Sutherland. The film title refers to the ancient Chinese text of the same name by war strategist Sun Tzu.

The film was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, The Art of War II: Betrayal and The Art of War III: Retribution. The third film in the series did not feature Wesley Snipes.

Plot[edit]

Neil Shaw (Snipes) is an operative for the United Nations' covert dirty-tricks squad, using espionage and quasi-ethical tactics to secure peace and cooperation, and trying to find out who killed the Chinese Ambassador to stop a trade pact and what it is that interpreter Marie Matiko knows that means people are trying to kill her. Donald Sutherland stars as a Secretary General who takes good care not to know what is done in the name of peace, Anne Archer is Snipes' power-dressed controller, and Maury Chaykin is a world-weary FBI man who finds himself dragged around New York in Snipes' high-speed wake.

In Hong Kong, Shaw infiltrates a Chinese New Year party held by Chinese business mogul David Chan (Tagawa) and covertly hacks an office laptop of a North Korean Defense Minister, and blackmails him with the misappropriation of U.N. aid money, in exchange for continuing negotiations with South Korea. Shortly after being discovered, Shaw fights his way out of the party, and suffers a gunshot wound to his shoulder during extraction.

Six months later, a shipping container full of dead Vietnamese refugees from Hong Kong turns up on the New York docks on the week as the China's trade agreement with the U.S. Shaw's boss, Eleanor Hooks (Archer) suspects Chinese ambassador Wu's (Hong) connection with the Chinese Triad, and assigns Shaw to plant a bug on Wu during a banquet held by Chan. During the trade agreement banquet, Wu is gunned down, Chan is shot in the arm, and Shaw pursues a masked gunman. During the pursuit, Shaw's teammate Robert Bly (Biehn) supposedly corners the gunman, but perishes, and Shaw is arrested by the NYPD. In the middle of a prison transfer, FBI agent Frank Capella's (Chaykin) van is disabled by a roadside bomb, and an unconscious Shaw is captured by Triad members to be framed of the murder and disposed of. Shaw regains consciousness but plays possum to escape. Shaw frees himself from captivity, and heads to the loft of his last remaining team member, Jenna Novak (Liliana Komorowska). Upon his arrival Shaw witnesses Novak murdered by a Chinese hitman. Shaw kills the hitman, recovers the audio file, and secures weapons and equipment from Novak's hidden armory. Shaw seeks out Julia Fang's (Matiko) help after reading a news article stating Shaw's innocence. Tailing her Shaw manages to save Fang from an ambush by a Chinese hitwoman at a hospital.

After hiding out overnight in a tunnel, Shaw and Fang contact Hooks the next morning. Using an internet bulletin board to communicate with Hooks, Shaw inquires why he is being framed. He is told to stay under radar due to a possible mole in the U.N. At a diner, another attempt is made by the Triads to kill Julia. But Shaw saves her and a few other people from a Triad bomb attack.

With Fang's aid, Shaw finds a Triad-owned bakery serving as a front for a Gentleman's club, setting up an unlikely alliance with Capella, as well as retrieving video footage of Chan's role in derailing the trade agreement. Fang delivers the evidence to Hooks while Shaw confronts Chan at the same hotel serving as the banquet. Shaw reveals that Chan was never really wounded. But Chan is shot dead by a masked gunman while being interrogated by Shaw. The pursuit ends when Shaw finds a scanner that is tuned to a tracking device embedded in Shaw's gunshot wound before being ambushed by Bly. Bly reveals himself as the assassin at the banquet, and also engineered the tracking device implant from an earlier basketball game injury to Shaw's shoulder. Hooks reviews the evidence, and reveals that she and Chan were the masterminds behind the conspiracy, with Hooks later turning on Chan and having him killed. A disgusted Fang tries to leave, but attempts to hide only to be locked in a bathroom by Bly.

Shaw eventually figures out Hooks's role behind the conspiracy and approaches Capella with his findings. Shaw uses Capella's first aid kit to surgically remove his tracking device, and places it on Capella's business card, leading the Triads to call him for a business proposition. Shaw breaks into the U.N. building, and enters into a shootout and hand-to-hand fight with Bly, where the latter dies after falling on a glass shard from a broken glass pane. A badly beaten Shaw leaves with Julia helping him. The following day, Shaw calls Hooks in her private car and lectures her on a lesson in karma, revealing that Shaw's business proposition to the Triads was to assassinate Hooks for her betrayal and Chan's murder. Shaw later has his death faked before reuniting with Fang (whose death was also faked) in France. But is monitored by an unknown spy during their reunion.

Cast[edit]

Jet Li was originally cast for the part eventually played by Wesley Snipes.[2]

TV reporter and future politician Erin Selby appears as a reporter.

Reception[edit]

The Art of War received negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 16% of 80 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 3.9/10. The site's consensus says: "Excessively noisy and overly reliant on genre clichés, The Art of War wastes its star's charisma on a ridiculous, convoluted plot and poorly edited action sequences."[3] Metacritic rated it 30/100 based on 23 reviews.[4] Emanuel Levy of Variety wrote, "Despite some effectively rousing set pieces, particularly in the long corridors of the U.N. building, The Art of War is ultimately much less than the sum of its parts."[5] Stephen Holden of The New York Times called it "ludicrous, impenetrable and headache-inducing".[6]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #2 behind Bring It On, earning $10,410,993 in its opening weekend in the United States. The Art of War went on to gross $40.4 million worldwide, failing to bring back its $60 million budget.[1]

Sequels[edit]

There are two sequels:

The Art of War II: Betrayal (2008)[edit]

Wesley Snipes reprised his role as Neil Shaw in a straight-to-DVD sequel released in August 2008. Athena Karkanis and Lochlyn Munro also star in the movie. In the sequel, Agent Neil Shaw is called out of retirement as a Hollywood film consultant by the murder of his long-time martial arts mentor, "Mother."

The Art of War III: Retribution (2009)[edit]

The third and final in the series starred Anthony "Treach" Criss, Sung Hi Lee, Warren Derosa and David Basila, but neither Snipes nor any of his co-stars from the first two movies.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Art of War". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  2. ^ Carver, Benedict (1999-02-25). "Pics slated in Samaha-Stone deal". Variety. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  3. ^ "The Art of War (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  4. ^ "The Art of War". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  5. ^ Levy, Emmanuel (2000-08-21). "Review: 'The Art of War'". Variety. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  6. ^ Holden, Stephen (2000-08-25). "The Art of War (2000)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 

External links[edit]