Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 12/13/00
The Art of War
2000 (2000) - Morgan
Creek/Warner Bros. (Warner)
review by Todd Doogan of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/C
Specs and Features
117 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual layer (layer switch at 56:56, in chapter
17), cast and crew filmographies, 7 theatrical trailers (for
The Art of War,
The In Crowd,
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,
The Whole Nine Yards,
Young Guns II), film-themed
menu screens with music, languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles:
English, Closed Captioned
It's New Year's Eve
1999 at the prestigious Jade Park hotel in Hong Kong and a huge
party is being thrown by billionaire David Chan. Out of the crowd, a
mysterious man in a black tux pulls some viscous (and quite
unorthodox) negotiating tactics and is able to get some long delayed
peace talks between North and South Korea back on track. Who is this
mysterious man and on which side of the fence is he playing? Well,
that's hard to say, because officially he doesn't exist.
Unofficially, he's Neil Shaw (Wesley Snipes) and he works for a
secret department within the UN, a department whose job it is to
make hard things - impossible things - happen, any way he can.
Six months later, a group of Hong Kong refugees that has been
missing for a month pop up dead - filling the to brim a shipping
canister delivered to a New York port. Ambassador Wu from China is
driving his fist into the table, chastising the UN. This is on the
eve of a huge UN sanctioned trade treaty with China, that will
benefit a great many people. But it's also a treaty that a few want
stopped, and those few are willing to kill to stop it. Who's
responsible? Is it someone on the inside of the UN like Neil Shaw?
Is it David Chang, who seemingly benefits most from this trade
agreement and, from all outward appearances, would have no need to
stop the treaty? Or is it Ambassador Wu, whose xenophobic attitude
is hidden by his support of the treaty? To find out, many things
will explode, bullets will fly and people will get kicked in the
face. So that pretty much means a good time will be had by all.
The Art of War isn't a bad
film. It's pretty brainless, really, but so are many such action
flicks. What it lacks is true style, even if it tries to pretend it
has some. Oh... there's plenty of movie rain, witty lighting effects
and some really killer action sequences, but The
Art of War is nothing more than second-rate James Bond
meets The Fugitive, with some
Rising Sun and Mission:
Impossible thrown in. It's kind of funny that Snipes was
in two out of the four films in that recipe. Furthering the idea
that there's no real creativity in the film, you'll find your
requisite bullet-time sequence. The Art
of War is by the numbers and, when it's not, it's so
contrived that you'll have a hard time believing it when it's all
over. And yet... while you watch it, you'll have a good time. As an
action film, it has its charms. It just lacks panache.
The picture quality on this DVD is virtually flawless. Colors are
bright and the blacks are solid. Image detail is crisp strong and
there's not any edge enhancement to be found. It's a really
beautiful picture. One side note though - there are a few scenes in
the film that feature digital images and those images feature
artifacts that are supposed to be there (so don't wig out if you see
them). About the only thing I noticed in this transfer that was
questionable is a hair on the print at about the 1:27:26 mark. But
that's it, and not many would notice something so trivial. The sound
field is also damn good. We get a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and it's
pretty fun and aerobic - jumping from speaker to speaker. The bass
isn't too over the top, and the dialogue channel is clean and clear.
All in all, it's a well-prepared disc. There aren't any real extras
to speak of, aside from some filmographies and trailers for this and
other Morgan Creek produced films. But then again, I don't think I
need a "making-of" or commentary for this film anyway, so
I'm not planning on holding anything against it there.
The Art of War isn't the
greatest action film ever made, and it won't sit in your mind for
long after viewing it. But it's not going to hurt you either. If you
haven't got anything better to do with an hour and a half of your
life, check it out. Maybe you'll enjoy it. Or maybe you won't.
There's only one way to find out.