A long-standing trend of Hollywood is the remake. Sometimes, it works but very rarely. Among the times a remake never works is when instead of a true remake we get a retread.
A film takes the basic story line and tries to pass it off as original. This is basically the case with Art of War.
We’ve seen Wesley Snipes in almost the same role in Passenger 57 and more recently in US Marshals. Here, Snipes plays Neil Shaw, an undercover operative working for a covert section of the United Nations.
His specialty is in coercing people into decisions they would normally not make. He seems to deal mostly with actions that concern relationships between the US and China.
On his team are a couple of other highly trained operatives, Bly (Michael Biehn) and Anna (Bonnie Mak). Together they get the job done through computer tricks, sophisticated communications equipment and, Snipes ability in martial arts.
The boss of the section is Eleanor Hooks (Anne Archer) who reports directly to the Secretary General (Donald Sutherland).
China is about to sign a trade agreement with the US. At the formal announcement the Chinese representative is assassinated. While chasing the killer Snipes is arrested and charged with the crime.
Of course, there is no jail that can hold such a man and he breaks out. Now, the FBI, police and the real killers are after him. Snipes finds an unwilling accomplice with a UN translator Julia (Marie Matiko).
Soon, they are both running from gunfights and explosions. The film is hard to follow with a complicated plot amidst very loud explosions and all the gunshots. Its not the story is bad is just that the plot has been done better before and even better in other Snipes films.
Snipes tries his best in Art Of War but has little to work with. I seem to be using this phrase a lot in reviews lately. It appears that Hollywood is getting big actors in cookie cutter films.
Snipes is great in the action sequences but falls short during the expository material. He just can’t sell it.
Sutherland and Archer are completely under utilized in Art Of War. They have such talent that is left on the wayside.
Biehn is familiar to action roles but has to play second fiddle to Snipes. If there were a bit more with Biehn, Art Of War would have moved up a notch.
The ancillary cast is little more than window dressing adding hardly anything to the production. In casting Art Of War they seemed more concerned with how well people looked than how they can act.
The director, Christian Duguay, does well with what he has to work with. The pacing of the action scenes is done well but once again, those scenes required to explain the plot come off as mere filler.
Duguay has talent. This can been seen by some of his previous work which includes the TV version of Joan of Arc, Philip K. Dick’s Screamers and several other made to TV films. He frames he scene to perfection and the lighting is always excellent.
Also noteworthy is his use of the soundtrack. In a film dependent upon sonic special effect this point is rather important.
The Art Of War disc is not very special in itself. It does have Dolby 5.1 audio and 2.35:1 anamorphic video.
Most discs can usually claim this at point is far too the sound heavy on the low frequencies. The gun shots should have a twang included but instead we get a booming with every firing. There is a bit of a muffled feel to the explosions. This preponderance of bass overwhelms the soundtrack and makes listening to the dialogue a bit difficult.
There is also a general lack of special features that could have added some additional value to the DVD.
In all if you enjoy Snipes get US Marshals or wait for Blade 2.
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