The (F)art of war

August 26, 2008 at 6:07 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

If there is one thing that I would like to take away from this movie, it has to be the long worn out cliche- “Names can be deceptive”. With a name taken from the oft-quoted war strategy text by Sun Tzu (remember Martin Sheen in Wall street), one would have expected atleast some kind of a sensibility to the plot, if not business school strategy classes material. But the moment you see Wesley Snipes on the cover, you know what awaits you.Before he was sent to jail for some tax fraud (if I remember correctly) , Wesley became famous for the Blade trilogy with his garlic shooting machine. But he will always remain the poor man’s version of the black action hero or Will Smith.

The introduction scene is actually not too bad. As the director tantalizingly gives you glimpses of his hero, as he dangles from a multi-storey building you actually take your hand off the eject button. But man, are you in for some disappointment. As the opening scene draws on, you see the defense minister of North korea being given some special treatment by 14-15 year old chicks. Man, talk about axis of evil. So, we realize that our hero is a covert UN agent whose identity does not exist. This one line should be enough to tell you the rest of the plot which is hardly imaginative or creative.

Well, the director does try to be different and throws in some geo-political twist to the plot. China trying to open itself to the world. But again you know that someone is going to throw in a spanner(and if you have seen as many whodunnits as I have, you can actually tell who). There are a few cool chase sequences which ultimately land our hero in trouble, who being officially non-existant cannot be rescued by UN which actually seems to be involved in more murkier things than D company.

There are the usual suspects in the plot like any other action movie- the hero escaping from the clutches of the villains, an audio tape being chased by everyone, car crash, boom boom blasts and since our hero is an afro american he has to play basketball atleast once. Shady nightclubs, drugs, sweat-shops. Special mention for wesley disguised as a Sudanese guy at UN. Hilarious yet believable.

The movie does make a few pertinent points. China’s future (the movie was made in 2000) is an important issue throughout the movie and how people both within and outside China would like to sabotage its growth for their personal benefit. Seeing the movie in the backdrop of the Beijing Olympics actually lends testimony to the director’s fears. But his insistence on dragging Art of War into the context of the movie holds the movie back. The movie also allays to the fact that UN is losing its relevance fast and actually tries to preach that UN must resort to unconventional ways to keep its head above water.

The script is pretty shallow and there seem to have been some last minute improvisations which do not allow a steady flow. However credit is due to Christian Duguay(director) who is probably the only one to come out shining. The production values are the saving grace of the movie and make it tolerable. Wesley,at best is average. Donald Sutherland was completely wasted. Interestingly, Jet Li was to reprise the role played by Snipes. Hmmm, could that have made a difference?

The tagline of the movie is “Do you know who your enemy is?”. I know. It is crappy boring movies who try to use style over substance and fail miserably. Art of war, unfortunately falls in that category.

Genre: Action, Thriller(you got to be kidding me)

Rating: Nightmarish

wesley snipes in art of war

wesley snipes in art of war


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