Tuesday, 21 December 2010



I like Wesley Snipes, but I think it's fair to say that things aren't going well for him and as far as his movies are concerned they've not been that good in recent years. Films like The Contractor (set and shot in London) don't really stack up against his 1990s films such as New Jack City, Drop Zone or Demolition Man. He'll always be more an action movie star than anything else; best known for the three Blade movies, the okay Fugitive sequel US Marshals, and the enjoyably dumb terrorist action thriller Passenger 57. (Or at least until recently; now he's best known for going to jail on tax fraud charges, and serves him right.)

The trouble with the Canadian thriller The Art Of War is that it has ideas above its station, in that rather than being a pulp piece of bangbang action nonsense, it thinks it's a proper political thriller with corruption and deviousness at the highest levels of international diplomacy, and something to say about trade with China and human rights abuses, which come to a head when the Chinese ambassador is assassinated on the eve of signing a radical and controversial trade agreement with the United Nations (headed by Donald Sutherland). Wesley Snipes, as some kind of shadowy special agent, is named as the assassin and has to prove his innocence and bring down the bad guys, led by Anne Archer as Sutherland's Number Two and Michael Biehn as Snipes' fellow agent.

The other trouble is that it's actually a rather dull film, indifferently put together, and Snipes' martial arts scenes are pretty poorly done. Despite the cast of familiar faces (which also include James Hong as the ill-fated ambassador and the late Maury Chaykin as the FBI man in charge) it's far too long and not anywhere near exciting or violent enough, which is a pity. Since the movie came out in 2000, two sequels have turned up, one with Snipes reprising his role and one where he's been replaced by another actor.


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