“The Art of War” is an action thriller released in 2000, starring Wesley Snipes and directed by Christian Duguay. While not strictly based on the teachings of the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu from “The Art of War,” the film draws inspiration from its philosophies and strategic concepts, portraying a story of modern espionage and political intrigue.
The art of war (2000) movie plot
The plot revolves around Neil Shaw, a highly skilled United Nations covert operative tasked with missions crucial to national security. However, he is framed for the assassination of the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, triggering a series of convoluted events. As a globally wanted fugitive, Shaw goes on the run, determined to clear his name and uncover the truth.
During his escape, Shaw encounters Julia Fang, a United Nations staffer, and together they embark on a quest to unravel a vast conspiracy involving international espionage, political schemes, and power struggles. Through suspenseful sequences and action-packed scenes, the film showcases the actions and decisions of operatives under intense pressure.
Shaw demonstrates his multifaceted abilities throughout the ordeal, showcasing proficiency in martial arts, astute strategic thinking, and adaptability to complex situations. Despite facing traps and assassination attempts, his resilience and intelligence keep him vigilant as he edges closer to the truth.
The climax of the film unveils the conspiracy’s truth and exposes the mastermind behind it, vindicating Shaw. In this process, Shaw exhibits not just courage and intelligence but also a willingness to risk everything for justice, confronting immense dangers and challenges.
he Art of War provides examples of:
Alone with the Psycho: Julia finds herself isolated within the UN Building, encountering Eleanor Hooks who allows her exit, leading to a harrowing pursuit by Bly.
Assassins Are Always Betrayed: Neil Shaw, a covert UN operative, unravels an intricate international conspiracy orchestrated by his employer and team member, necessitating his investigative prowess.
Boom, Headshot!: Key figures including Ambassador Wu, David Chan, Anna’s mother, the Triad responsible for Jenna’s death, and Eleanor Hooks meet their demise via headshots.
Call-Back: Shaw’s pursuit of David Chan’s assassin mirrors a prior chase involving Ambassador Wu’s assailant, hinting at deliberate parallels.
The End… Or Is It?: Shaw fabricates his demise, escaping to France with Julia, only to be discreetly observed by a mysterious spy.
Fake Assassination: Initially perceived as a staged attempt on David Chan’s life, further revelation exposes Chan’s involvement in a more intricate scheme, ultimately leading to his authentic demise at the hands of Shaw’s former comrade, Bly.
Faking the Dead: During a Triad plot, Shaw’s survival is simulated, paralleling an earlier ruse involving FBI agent Frank Capella, ensuring Shaw’s clandestine departure with Julia.
Gambit Pileup: The conspiracy involving Chan, Triads, and Hooks culminates in intertwined intentions, aimed at manipulating trade deals and discrediting the UN.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gory fates befall several antagonists, including Bly’s demise via glass shard, a fitting end for a traitor.
Irony: David Chan’s seemingly injured arm leads to his actual demise, a tragic twist following Shaw’s revelation of the falsified wound.
Laser-Guided Karma: Eleanor Hooks meets her fate at the hands of the Triad, an ironic turn after disclosing her orchestrated blame on them to Shaw.
Mole in Charge: Hooks’s role as the clandestine head of the UN’s covert operations reveals her dual allegiance and ulterior motives to discredit the UN.
Never Found the Body: Bly’s absence after a chase implies his survival, a critical hint to his role as The Mole.
Not My Driver: Hooks’s unexpected execution by her supposed chauffeur signifies a shocking betrayal and closure to her schemes.
Oh, Crap!: Shaw’s revelation of being unknowingly bugged leads to a moment of realization about Bly’s betrayal, culminating in his imminent arrival.
Tracking Device: Shaw’s suspicion regarding Julia’s tracking device prompts drastic measures, leading to the revelation of a clandestinely implanted tracker within himself by a complicit physician.
The relationship between Sun Tzu’s Art of War movies and Sun Tzu’s works
While the movie takes its title from “The Art of War,” it primarily focuses on the survival and struggles of modern operatives in a complex political landscape. It portrays their skills, quick thinking, and ability to uncover truths in an environment filled with intelligence and deception.
Aside from just being a catchy title, the text itself is evoked a few times in the story.
The first sees Hooks state to Julia’s she’s turned Sun Tzu’s writings against China, especially in regard to destroying an enemy from within. With some help from “respectable” businessman Chan and the triad, she claims to have done just that in nixing the trade deal.
The second is in The Art of War’s ending, where Bly cites chapter 13 of Sun Tzu’s work. Bly refers to the “Doomed Spies” section, and how sacrificing an agent without their knowledge can turn a battle in somebody’s favor. Bly coldly states that befriending Shaw and gaining his trust allowed him and Hooks to set him up for the assassination and that by the time they’re finished with Shaw, he’d make “Lee Harvey Oswald look like a f–king boy scout!”
High-tech gadgetry. High-powered armaments. They’re all weapons of choice as Shaw unravels a scheme to destroy a historic summit with China. Other weapons come into play: manipulation, cunning, control–all tactics from the Sun Tsu handbook about win without fighting.
Overall, “The Art of War” is a thrilling film rich in suspense and action. Although not strictly adhering to the teachings of the ancient text, its gripping storyline and Wesley Snipes’ compelling performance captivated audiences, making it a highly notable work upon its release.
The art of war (2000) movie cast
- Wesley Snipes as SAD Agent Neil Shaw
- Donald Sutherland as UN Secretary-General Douglas Thomas
- Maury Chaykin as FBI Agent Frank Capella
- Anne Archer as Eleanor Hooks
- Marie Matiko as Julia Fang
- Ron Yuan as Ming
- Michael Biehn as SAD Agent Robert Bly
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as David Chan
- Liliana Komorowska as SAD Agent Jenna Novak
- James Hong as Ambassador Wu
- Paul Hopkins as FBI Agent Ray
- Glen Chin as Defense Minister General Ochai
- Bonnie Mak as Anna Li
- Uni Park as Tina Chan
- Fernando Chien as Zeng Zi
- Paul Wu as “Shades”
- Noel Burton as Alex Wingate
- Mike Tsar as NYPD Lieutenant
- Steven P. Park as “Tattoo”
- Jet Li was originally cast for the part but was eventually played by Wesley Snipes. TV reporter Erin Selby appears as a reporter.
- 2000 – Genie Awards – Best Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design – Nominated
- 2000 – Genie Awards – Best Achievement in Editing – Nominated
- 2000 – Genie Awards – Best Achievement in Overall Sound – Nominated
- 2000 – Genie Awards – Best Achievement in Sound Editing – Winner
Wesley Snipes reprised his role as Neil Shaw in a straight-to-DVD sequel released in August 2008. Athena Karkanis and Lochlyn Munro also starred in the film. In the sequel, Agent Neil Shaw is called out of retirement as a Hollywood film consultant by the murder of his long-time martial arts mentor, “Broodmother” . The Art of War II was made on a low budget and lacked the flair and vigor of the original. Snipes himself felt tested, and while the sequel had a nice twist ending, it was too late to save it.
The third and final film in the series stars Anthony “Treach” Criss, Sung-Hi Lee, Warren Derosa and David Basila, but neither Snipes nor any of his co-stars from the first two films.Sun Tzu’s The Art of War III: Retribution brings Trench’s Shaw to South Korea, which in the movie is on the brink of reunification with North Korea. There’s a lot of shooting and fighting going on, and although Shaw wants to (again) quit his job, he decides against it. Retribution concludes the Art of War trilogy on a low note.