Tuesday, 6 November 2012



When I mentioned on Twitter that I'd watched this Wesley Snipes action movie, I was immediately followed by Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist, philosopher and military general who died in around 496 BC. Sun Tzu proffers a wide range of nuggets of battlefield advice ranging from the impenetrably gnomic through to the bleedin' obvious, though sadly none of them advise what to do in the event of the audience spotting a mystery villain two reels before the big twist, or how to shoot martial arts sequences so the audience can see what the hell is going on. Which is strange, since it's directed by Josef Ruznak, who generally seems pretty competent (Beyond, or the It's Alive remake).

The Art Of War II: Betrayal is pretty much on a par with the first film, which is to say that it's scarcely essential viewing. But whereas the first one had a decent supporting cast (Donald Sutherland, Anne Archer) and acted like a proper serious political thriller rather than a simplistic DTV action flick, the sequel is pretty much the other way around: it stars almost no-one you've ever heard of and it's more of a disposable biff-kerpow-thud headbanger than anything else. Now answering to the name Nigel Stone, one-time special agent Neil Shaw (Snipes) is working as an adviser on knuckleheaded action movies. The leading man wants to run for the Senate but is being blackmailed over nudey threesome photographs; and Shaw/Stone agrees to look into it.

Meanwhile, Shaw/Stone's old teacher has died, leaving behind an allegedly hot daughter called Heather (Athena Karkanis), there's an evil arms company bumping off the opposition to their new super-death gun, and Homeland Security is on Shaw/Stone's trail when he's set up for a Congressman's murder. Most of this is punctuated either by abject silliness (Shaw lets rats loose in the top security headquarters then dresses up as the bloke from Pest Control and immediately has the run of the whole building despite still having the face of a wanted murder suspect) or atrociously shot fight scenes which, one might cynically suggest, have been overedited and overlaid with post-production effects in order to hide the fact that Snipes fights like Mollie Sugden. And if you can't spot the mystery villains within seconds of their first appearances on the screen, you're not even trying. Generally pretty mediocre despite Snipes' natural charm and watchability.



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