[box cover]

The Art of War

The Art of War doesn't break any new ground in the action genre, but folks looking for a diverting matinee have at least two good reasons for the spin — Wesley Snipes, and lots of gunplay. Directed by Christian Duguay, Snipes stars in War as super-secret agent Shaw, a man without any legal identity and in the employ of the United Nations, for whom he practices his unique brand of skullduggery. Often, Shaw finds himself working on behalf of international harmony (blackmailing a North Korean official to resume peace talks, for instance), but when a Chinese official is assassinated over a pending trade agreement, Shaw is pinned for the shooting and must seek the help of a timid, fetching UN interpreter (Marie Matiko) to snare the baddies. With the exception of a couple plot twists, The Art of War covers the sort of territory Snipes has staked out for himself as an action star (he executive produced here), and the most enjoyable elements are the set-pieces, including a bit of chop-sockey, plenty of bone-shattering leaps from high places, and a spirited car chase that terminates on the business end of a forklift (ouch). Regrettably, Ann Archer and Donald Sutherland have walk-through parts, but Michael Biehn, as one of Snipes' clandestine colleagues, turns in a winning performance, as does Maury Chaykin as portly FBI agent Capella, who consistently creates small comic asides virtually out of thin air. Grab the popcorn and turn out the lights. Solid transfer, DD 5.1, trailers. Snap-case.

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