Art of War [2000/I]

The Art of War is the first action movie with a hero who works for the United Nations--the U.N. Covert Operations Unit, to be specific. Who knew there was such a thing? Wesley Snipes plays Shaw, their top operative, who's unafraid of dropping several stories from one ledge of a skyscraper to another. When the Chinese ambassador is assassinated, it threatens the stability of an impending trade agreement that the secretary-general (played by Donald Sutherland) has worked so hard to achieve. Shaw gets arrested for the assassination, but who's really responsible? Is it the wily Chinese capitalist? A seemingly affable FBI agent? Only a lovely U.N. interpreter (Marie Matiko) believes he's innocent, especially when someone tries to knock her off and Shaw is the only person she can turn to... well, you get the idea. The script is neither original nor comprehensible, but that's not why you'd want to watch a movie like The Art of War--it's the action. And the action is pretty good, particularly earlier on when the confusions of the plot don't matter as much. Michael Biehn (The Terminator, The Rock) does a serviceable job as one of Shaw's associates, Anne Archer (Fatal Attraction, Clear and Present Danger) tries to seem complicated as the head of the Covert Operations Unit, and Maury Chaykin (The Mask of Zorro, Devil in a Blue Dress) is dependable as ever as the FBI guy. --Bret Fetzer

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