Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Wesley Snipes worst movie ever, that’s what this ‘Art of War 2: Betrayal’ was.  I’ve pretty much seen just everything Mr. Snipes has done, including his inspired work on the Michael Jackson ‘Bad’ video and though some of my man’s Direct to Video offerings have been ‘lackluster’, almost all of them have had some rudimentary entertainment value with the possible exception of ‘The Detonator’, but inexplicably this movie was worse than that one.  I don’t know what the history of this movie is, but it looks like there was another Sony distributed DTV ‘Art of War’ sequel in production with Naughty by Nature front man Anthony ‘Treach’ Criss as Shaw, and as far as I can tell that movie is still a go, but has been renamed ‘Intervention’.  But I guess Mr. Snipes, in need of all the loot he can get his hands on right about now, wanted to know what the hell was up with that and so the powers that be threw together a ‘real’ Art of War sequel, also distributed by Sony, with Snipes returning as Shaw, to dump on an unsuspecting action movie hungry public.  What’s most pathetic about this, despite how bad this movie was, is that I’m wondering when I’m going to get my copy of that other ‘Art of War’ movie.  It’s because of enablers like myself that crap like this keeps getting made.

Neil Shaw (Snipes) has retired from being an international bad ass and has lent his considerable neck snapping skills to Hollywood, serving as a consultant for action movies and its stars, such as some dude named Garret (Lochlyn Munro) who has decided to dump action movies for politics.  Unfortunately Shaw gets sidetracked for a moment as he receives word that his Sensei from back in the day has died in a car accident or something and he has to go to his funeral where he meets his daughter Heather (Athena Karkanis).  Thing is nobody even knew this daughter existed but there she is, and she’s none too happy with Shaw since she feels that her father’s mere knowledge of Shaw’s existence is the reason why he’s dead.

Turns out girlfriend might not be too far off the mark as Shaw is learning that something real strange is going on, mostly involving some senators and particularly this cat named Sallas (Michael Phenicie) who is the head of one of those evil weapon conglomerates and needs copious amounts of gub-ment funding to keep supplying the free world with Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Combine this evil dude with the equally evil CIA operatives who are working with Sallas to kill off senators and stuff, and it looks like we got a conspiracy on our hands.  Seriously though, they might have wanted to keep Shaw out of this mess because he’s probably the baddest man on the planet, plus he reads Sun Tzu which means not only is Shaw a badass but he knows some ancient Chinese secret type shit.  Now it’s on as former Agent Shaw has to take on the U.S. Government and their highly trained, highly skilled killers.  Then toss in the evil weapons dude and his trained operatives and super duper guns, and we won’t even mention a few other folks who might be running the okey-doke behind Shaw’s back.  Some one might want to inform those evil dudes to bring in the entire Delta Force so we can at least see a fair fight.

This movie was such a disjointed jumbled mess I don’t even know where to begin.  First I guess we’ll just briefly talk about where the movie fails most tragically and that was as an action movie.  Yeah, Wesley does his Wesley Snipes thing a couple of times on some foolz and there were explosions and shootouts just as you would hope for in an action movie, but for the most part the movie moved way to slow and the pace was so plodding that it made the action sequences that would sporadically pop up feel almost inconsequential.  Then the was the story itself which was so convoluted and stuffed with utter nonsense that if you can make out what the hell was supposed to be happening from time to time then you’re a better one than me.  They could have really done themselves, and me for that matter, a real solid by lessening some of the gab, and simply substituted that with a weak car chase our Wesley roundhouse kicking somebody to head or Sumpin’!

There were the occasional lapses in logic that one might question, like why in the hell is the bug exterminator dude in the middle of CIA headquarters while they’re monitoring some super secret CIA murdering stuff, looking over their shoulders.  Maybe somebody should ask this dude, who looks disturbingly just like Neil Shaw, who all of them are desperately looking for so they can kill him, to leave.  Or more importantly ask how he got in here in the first place since you are doing some top secret government type stuff.  Probably my main issue is why Shaw is even in this movie in the first place.  If you’ve got a plan to do some dirt and the only man on the planet who can stop you, who also happens to be the baddest man on the planet is off in Hollywood doing some stupid shit, why not just let him stay there.  Don’t trick him into joining the fray so that he can… well… serve no other purpose than to eventually thwart your perfect plan.  Seriously, even though I just saw the damn movie, I can’t remember why the suckered Shaw into their little game in the first place.

‘I like to keep my friends close and my enemies closer’ the senator would tell Shaw.  Shaw would chuckle and reply ‘You read Sun Tzu’.  The senator was probably thinking that she heard Frank Drebin say that in ‘Naked Gun 33 1/3rd’ and didn’t want to sound stupid.  Surely we could have found a more unique Sun Tzu quote than that to use in this awful, awful movie.  The good thing for Wes is that I see he will be in an Antoine Fuqua movie soon, and since I’ve never seen a bad Antoine Fuqua movie, this bodes well for our tax-evading action star.  Probably won’t make me forget the ‘Art of War: Betrayal’, but at least it’s a start back to respectability.

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