The Art of War 2: Betrayal DVD review

The original Art Of War was not a very good film. Compared to the direct to DVD follow-up? It could be a downright masterpiece...

The Art Of War 2

The original Art of War film was released in 2000 and, as well as Wesley Snipes, also featured none other than the mighty Donald Sutherland. By all accounts, it was crap.

I’m not especially surprised. Wesley Snipes is one of the most prolific actors around, yet, apart from the Blade series, his films are almost always utter bilge. He’s now largely developed a career in straight-to-video releases, titles such as The Detonator, The Marksman and The Contractor pepper his C.V.

Of course straight-to-video films don’t necessarily have to be rubbish. Mind you; their hit rate isn’t traditionally all that great.

I wasn’t surprised to realise, very early on, that The Art of War 2: Betrayal does little to raise the bar.

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Put simply, this is crap.

The plot revolves around the murder of Neil Shaw’s (Snipes) mentor, the oddly named Mother, as well as a friend with political aspirations who asks Shaw for his help. The betrayal in the title refers to the fact that Shaw eventually realises he is being set up for some nasty goings on, indeed.

As with almost any Snipes film, though, the plot is utterly irrelevant as what we actually have here is a series of excuses for Snipes to intermittently raise his fists, legs, head and whatever weapons he can get his hands on to inflict as much damage as possible, on as many people as possible, in as balletic a way as possible.

The actual moments of violence are rather slight, surrounded by a host of what alludes to be dramatic sentiment. Of course, this being a straight-to-video affair, these moments of drama are underwhelming and often quite ridiculous. A sequence early on in which Shaw dances with his love interest perfectly embodies this, Snipes and co. doubtless assuming that here is an erotic masterpiece playing out before our eyes. In reality, it comes off as rehearsals for the US series of Come Dancing (actually, the thought of Snipes on that show would be eminently more watchable than this garbage).

When it comes to the acting, unbelievably there is worse on display than Snipes himself. Much worse. Perhaps that’s why they were hired in the first place – to mask Snipes’ own vast incapabilities here. The very worst of the bunch are Lochlyn Munro as Shaw’s senator mate and Ryan McDonald as Shaw’s technical genius friend. There are no words to describe just how awful these two are but ‘unwatchable’ comes close.

So, rubbish action, dreadful acting, nonsensical sequences and another truly duff entry into Snipes ever-decreasing cinematic canon.

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The best way I could think of to sum up just how bad this all is, is by quoting this line that comes forth from a priest when Shaw comments that the crowd at Mother’s funeral should be interesting: “It’s what you’d expect from a super agent, cross-dressing martial arts instructor.”

Run for the hills!

Extras Only eight minutes of fight sequences that were left out of the film and a bunch of trailers for other movies.

1 stars

23 January 2009


1 out of 5