Considering the terrible tax situation Wesley Snipes got himself in, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s resorted to doing movies, that for the most part, would have been considered unworthy of his “action-star prowess” during his heyday (which I say was around the time of Blade). But a man’s got to his pay his bills: washed up actors do D-list movies; women turn tricks – both are forms of prostitution. Thankfully (I think) for us, Wesley sits in the former category so he can reprise his role of Neil Shaw from The Art of War, in The Art of War II: Betrayal.
Now when it comes to a film like this, I find it awfully difficult to remain objective. I knew going in The Art of War II: Betrayal was going to be bad. After all, 99.4% of all straight-to-DVD movies are. The only unknown was how bad was it going to be? Pretty fucking bad, that’s how bad. So the remainder of this review will be reasons on why you shouldn’t buy or rent this.
The story is as transparent as a piece of glass and about as entertaining as talking about a colonoscopy with your grandparents. It seems someone is trying to blackmail or kill senators with oversight on defense spending, so Shaw (Snipes) is asked to come out of retirement to investigate at the behest of his friend Garret (Lochlyn Munro), who is running for a seat. Interwoven into the “been there done that” scenario is the curious death of his mentor Mom (he was a crossdresser, don’t ask why) and the surprise that Mom had a long lost and sexy daughter Heather (Athena Karkanis), who has come out of the woodwork. Shaw, of course, has to kick ass to fit the puzzle pieces together before time runs out.
Based on what you’ve just read, you should be able to fit all the jigsaw pieces together yourself. It took me no more than five minutes to figure out the ending once I knew who all the players were. And I’m not going to bother diving into the vast plot holes needed to get us there either, just know there are a lot of them. But that’s not the worst of it. Director Josef Rusnak could have at least thrown in some kick-ass fight scenes to help me forget that the rest of the movie was a mess. He doesn’t – there are some fights (every Snipes film has them) but they’re slow and jaw-droppingly poorly choreographed. That’s right, I saw fake punches miss their target while the target pretended to be hit. There is no excuse for that, no matter how cheap of budget a film is made on.
With that out of the way, I’ll move onto the acting, or should I say, the lack of the acting. Everyone comes across like a mannequin – rigid and emotionless. Every word uttered is unnatural and forced; even the obligatory quips by Snipes are flatter than a crepe. This surprised me since I know Wesley is a better actor than that (not much better, but better none-the-less). Literally the only guy who at least tried was Lochlyn Munro and my guess is it’s because he’s just so happy to be still working. I’ll also just quickly mention that the hot chick could have been hotter and the “connection moments” between her and Snipes may have been the worst tender movie moments I’ve ever seen.
Need more reasons to not see The Art of War II: Betrayal? Okay, the attempts at CGI are no better than what I can do with 20 minutes of practice with Adobe Premiere on my Windows 95 laptop. More? How about it is nearly two hours in length, and nothing this bad should take up that amount of time. More? If you still need more, then you’re impossible to reach and I recommend therapy.