Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Art of War 2: Betrayal
ART OF WAR 2: BETRAYAL (2008)
Directed by: Josef Rusnak
Screenplay: Keith Shaw & Jason Bourque
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Athena Karkanis, Winston Rekert, Lochlyn Munro
A somewhat belated sequel to one of Snipes' minor earlier hits The Art of War, which was an underrated twisty thriller that featured some blistering action and is worthy of a watch or two. Art of War 2 sees Snipes return to the role of super agent Neil Shaw and while the film isn't as bad as you may have heard it's also far from good. The initial idea and set up is pretty cool with Shaw returning to his super agent ways to investigate the death of his old sensei, a plot to assassinate some leading senators and all kinds of double crosses, shifty movie stars (!) and ridiculous handguns that seem to fire missiles.
But it's the execution that really lets Art of War 2 down. Instead of telling a straight-forward story with some easy to follow action scenes, the filmmakers seem to be intent on making everything as incomprehensible as possible. Well, the story isn't too hard to follow despite too many twists and turns for its own good but the photography and editing all but destroys what could have been a fun action film. No editing trick, filter or transition is left out as scenes are over-edited and stylised for no reason. The film is full of what is known as "Avid farts" as the film jump cuts, slo-mos and flash fades its way through the narrative. All this editing trickery adds nothing to proceedings, dilutes a lot of tension and unfortunately ruins many of the potentially good action scenes. Snipes is certainly a capable fighter and the film features a healthy dose of action sequences but whenever they start to get good badly positioned camera angles and over-editing nonsense rear their ugly heads. There are some solid hand-to-hand confrontations but the editing often gets in the way of enjoying the fight scenes.
Despite the makers incessant need to over edit everything and use a fair share of unflattering digital photography, Art of War 2 is passable thanks to Snipes. He gives a solid performance and the acting across the board is better than a lot of direct-to-DVD action sequels. Some of the action is still ok despite the editing, Snipes getting into a lot of brutal fights and there is a cool bit where he infiltrates a high tech building by pretending to be a pest control engineer.
Watchable but overall disappointing and another example of the increasingly growing trend of over-edited and cheaply made direct-to-DVD action films. Shame.