When Agent Neil Shaw (Wesley Snipes) comes out of hiding to avenge his former mentor's murder, he winds up on the trail of betrayal and lethal corruption. Under the charge of his friend and Senatorial candidate, his mission is to set things straight. But when more people turn up dead, Shaw realizes that he's been framed. Now he's letting the fists fly where they may to get to the bottom of an assassination conspiracy that everyone thinks he's behind. It's time to turn up the political heat and enjoy the action of the martial arts master!
Wesley Snipes makes a far more persuasive action hero than his straight-to-video compatriot Steven Seagal; lean and fluid, Snipes makes you believe he could kick some butt with his martial arts moves. Unfortunately, that's about the only good thing to be said about The Art of War II: Betrayal
, in which retired covert agent Neil Shaw (Snipes) gets drawn into an incomprehensible plot involving super-duper bullets, a blackmailed movie star, bribes to congresspeople, and the hitherto unknown daughter of a cross-dressing sensei from Shaw's youth. The movie has many allusions to characters from Shaw's past, none of whom appeared in The Art of War
; the only connection between the two films seems to be the main character's name. Even the action scenes are poorly lit and clumsily edited (oddly enough, the only extra on the DVD is a series of "alternate" versions of the fights--most of which are easier to follow and hence more exciting than the versions they used in the movie itself). The movie is named after the tactical guidebook of the ancient Chinese warrior-scholar Sun Tzu; you might think the point would be that the hero makes deft use of Sun Tzu's advice. You would be wrong. What happened to Wesley Snipes? Once or twice he gives a brief flash of the charisma that flourished in Jungle Fever
and White Men Can't Jump
, but he spends most of the movie looking like he's had his whole face Botoxed. Action movies may have made Snipes a lot of money, but they've drained his charm. --Bret Fetzer