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The Art of War

3.3 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Art of War, The (DVD)

Wesley Snipes stars as an American undercover agent framed for murder who must expose international conspirators intent on destroying the United Nations in the thriller The Art of War. Although he doesn't officially exist, lethal weapon Neil Shaw (Snipes) serves as a critical line of defense for the secretary general of the United Nations. But after being accused of killing a Chinese ambassador, Shaw goes underground to solve the crime and clear his own name only to discover a more sinister mystery than he ever imagined. Unable to trust anyone except beautiful translator Julia Fang (Marie Matiko), Shaw pursues Chan (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a ruthless businessman he suspects of being the mastermind behind a global plot of cataclysmic proportions.


The Art of War is the first action movie with a hero who works for the United Nations--the U.N. Covert Operations Unit, to be specific. Who knew there was such a thing? Wesley Snipes plays Shaw, their top operative, who's unafraid of dropping several stories from one ledge of a skyscraper to another. When the Chinese ambassador is assassinated, it threatens the stability of an impending trade agreement that the secretary-general (played by Donald Sutherland) has worked so hard to achieve. Shaw gets arrested for the assassination, but who's really responsible? Is it the wily Chinese capitalist? A seemingly affable FBI agent? Only a lovely U.N. interpreter (Marie Matiko) believes he's innocent, especially when someone tries to knock her off and Shaw is the only person she can turn to... well, you get the idea. The script is neither original nor comprehensible, but that's not why you'd want to watch a movie like The Art of War--it's the action. And the action is pretty good, particularly earlier on when the confusions of the plot don't matter as much. Michael Biehn (The Terminator, The Rock) does a serviceable job as one of Shaw's associates, Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction, Clear and Present Danger) tries to seem complicated as the head of the Covert Operations Unit, and Maury Chaykin (The Mask of Zorro, Devil in a Blue Dress) is dependable as ever as the FBI guy. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Wesley Snipes, Anne Archer, Maury Chaykin, Marie Matiko, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
  • Directors: Nicolas Clermont
  • Writers: Wayne Beach, Simon Davis
  • Producers: Wesley Snipes, Elie Samaha, Dan Halsted
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXMV
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,159 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Art of War" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 17, 2003
Format: DVD
"The Art of War" was a pleasant surprise when I rented it. Once you get past the admitedly far-fetched premise that the UN has its own covert ops teams, it emerges as a spy movie that remembers how to be a spy movie. Rather than going the James Bond/Mission Impossible route of pitting a super-human spy agaisnt a supervillian, "The Art of War" serves up old-fashioned twists, turns, secrets, lies, betrayals, and assassination attempts.
Another nice thing about this movie is that 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. Ultimately, the plot doesn't quite hold up, but it's an admirable effort.
Snipes does a great job, never lightening the tone by playing to the cheap seats. By playing it straight he makes the film that much more believable. His fight scenes--including the end shootout feating slow-mo bullet-time--are both thrilling and plausible in a way that "The Matrix's" cgi-enhanced action can't manage.
Finally, the film just *looks* great. Director of Photography Pierre Gill plausibly passes off a lot of Canadian locations as Hong Kong and New York. He gives these cities a glossy sheen, a convincing grittiness, and a neon readiance, depending upon the scene.
All in all, I think if the movie had featured Tom Cruise or Keanu Reeves it would have been much better received. Too bad, since Snipes blows both of them off the screen. This one is definitely worth a look.
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It seems that in Hollywood these days many movie makers feel it is their duty to engage in political propaganda. Most of this propaganda is left-leaning and the Art of War is no exception.
As an action flick I found the movie entertaining. Snipes has the screen presence to earn this movie it's third star. Without him it deserves two at best.
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 so ludicrous that it raises this movie feom the level of the mundane to the sublime... The idiocy of the movie's political message has to be seen to be believed. Ed Wood's work is unintentionally rivalled by hilarious tripe. This earns this movie its fourth star.
For example Ann Archer plays a character who is "evil" because she believes that it is wrong for American politicians and businessmen to give US nuclear secrets to Communist China who then give them to terrorist nations (like Iran). Apparently the movie makers believe that such actions by US citizens are good. Most people would call them treasonous.
These little gems surface throughout the movie and add a simply (and unintentionally) hilarious plotline. I laughed uproariously throughout! Definitely worth viewing!
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Format: DVD
What's with the hate? I watched this movie numerous times. I liked it the first time but the movie gets better after you see it a few times because you start to pick things up that you missed. I am big fan of action films and this movie delivers, yes it predictable at times but what movie isn't. I thought the actors did a pretty good job also. The film also ended on a good note makes you feel good especially with the nice musical score the films has. Wish they would of actually made a score soundtrack for the film.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Well first off let me start by saying I don't care what people say about the movie or Snipes, it was a great movie. For those who think different, they didn't really see the movie or botherd to take a look at the time frame of when it was created. I have seen almost all of Wesley's action films but this one is the best to date next to blade. From the suspence to the martial art action sequences, Snipes delivers. 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. If your looking for some action that involves a twist of Martial arts and spy technology this is one film to add to your list. I only wish Wesley Snipes can bring that much energy and more in his films over the next few years(if of course he dosen't go to jail).
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Format: DVD
"The Art of War" was Wesley Snipes' first film following a two-year break from Hollywood and his first starring vehicle since Blade. Disappointingly, it was also a movie made during the height of Hollywood's superficially glossy period and treated as such by most viewers, therein becoming one of Snipes' larger dramatic and commercial flops at the time. Nevertheless, it holds some appeal to me that mainstream critics tend to overlook, and after a steady diet of Snipes' current direct-to-video output, this looks fine by comparison. Basically, this isn't a movie for people who like Wesley for New Jack City, but casual action-thriller aficionados ought to enjoy it with some popcorn.

The story: an undercover operative (Snipes) is framed and hunted for the murder of a Chinese ambassador during the crafting of a politically powerful trade agreement between the UN and China, moving him to sift through a web of betrayal and corruption to find the real culprits.

Though co-writer Wayne Beach had worked on a Wesley Snipes vehicle before, this film clearly thinks it's cleverer than it actually is. You can see the inevitable twists coming from a mile away, and even though it's trying to be politically relevant with a vaguely anti- right-wing slant, it ultimately feels shallow yet still over-concerned with its imagined relevance.
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