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This week:

The Art of War

Filthy says:
"What a fucking mess!"


Seeing the "The Art of War" is like pulling out of the garage and backing over your grandmother. Before it happens you hear a tiny voice scream "No!" but you aren't paying attention ­ you're singing along with "Hot for Teacher" on the radio. Then, there's all this wailing and howling, all this commotion, and you have no idea what it all means.

When you get out of the car or theater, you see the mistake, you feel like shit and you spend days wondering how the fuck you could have avoided it. Worst of all, it kills your grandmother.

"The Art of War" has nothing to do with art, it has to do with egos that have blocked the path between their owners and reality. This movie, the cinematic equivalent of burning diarrhea dripping down your thigh, is so convinced with its genius that it never bothers being entertaining, making sense, or being remotely original. What a fucking mess.

Wesley Snipes is Shaw, a U.N. top-secret agent who uses questionable tactics to force countries to do what the U.N. wants. I understood that much, but then it all got fuzzy. Apparently, a huge Chinese trade bill is about to be signed, but certain Chinese citizens don't want it. So, Snipes moves in to force the situation and then loses his U.N. support. From there, I can't really tell you what the fuck was going on. Lots of crappy martial arts, gun fights, predictable twists where the people who secretly employ Snipes actually oppose him (and I think well, if they hadn't hired him in the first place I could have gone fishing this afternoon). There are lots of people yammering about Chinese trade relations like they just got done reading "The Economist" and are feeling pretty fucking smart. Oh, and I don't want to forget all the racist sentiments expressed about Chinese people.

Oh, Chinese trade relations. Now that's about as interesting as talking to the guy at the company picnic who keeps sticking his hand in the punch bowl. Maybe there is a kernel of a junior college paper about Chinese-American trade relations at the core of this story, but as a movie, it's pure bullshit, pure as driven snow splattering your face. Good fucking God in a gravy boat, this movie makes no sense, it doesn't even try.

A big part of the problem is how "Art of War" pretends to be about explosive political issues. Some Hollywood grassfucker with a corncob up his ass read this script and, having even less interest in politics than making good movies, thought it was smart because he didn't understand it. What we, the unsuspecting public, are left with is a movie that wraps a bullshit plot around a very superficial and racist interpretation of international relations.

Watch five minutes, see Snipes blackmail a Korean Army general by showing footage of him getting a hummer, which he is already getting in public, then escape by jumping off the building with a parachute, and you'll know a few things. One, there is nothing original, nothing plausible and you can write the rest of the story. The only thing you can't do is imagine how fucking stiff the dead dialog is, or how impressed the movie is with itself.

It looks like director Christian Duguay has never seen a lame action sequence he didn't want to steal. There are plenty of repeats in here, including the parachute jump from the original and bad "Mission: Impossible" or the bullet traces you can see from "The Matrix." Of course, it's one of those movies where it's always raining and moody. Maybe it isn't raining. Maybe it's God pissing on these assholes.

The martial arts look like amateur hour, the chases are so jittery that they're impossible to follow, and the high-tech gizmos look like the bargain bin at Radio Shack. The whole flick gives off the vibe of a cheap-ass movie that wants to be expensive but ends up looking like a whore with too much makeup covering her tracks. It's got a cheap cast, cheap effects and a basement-clearance-rack script.

Fuck it, I'm so fucking pissed.

Mr. Duguay has the camera moving all the time. He swings it to and fro and can't settle for a minute. He made me want to fucking puke. It's all grainy close-ups of Snipes' ugly mug, or helicopter shots circling a scene that would be better served by a traditional and competent director. He even mixes styles like he's making a hobo stew from better movies.

The script is worse than giving your grandmother a rimjob (provided you didn't already run her over). I've already talked about how incoherent and pretentious it is, but the dialog sinks this fucker into the abyss. A cop in the movie says "I'm getting too old for this shit," as though this hasn't been said about 100 times already.

The characters are all assholes who speak in clichés, as though they are strangers talking about weather while waiting in line at Starbucks. Occasionally, however, the pack of rabid soul-sucking screenwriters (Kevin Bernhardt, Wayne Beach and Simon Davis Barry) decides to make someone blurt out a plot point. Snipes may say "Nice day, huh?" to which his vague love interest Marie Matiko will respond "You want me to go in there and get the secret files? Are you crazy?"

Snipes is bad, very bad. I don't know if he recognizes the movie around him sucks and so he sleepwalks through it, or if he is really that catatonic. Marie Matiko is whiny, but not pretty enough or interesting enough to carry the spunky waif role, and that's fine since the role is terrible. Donald Sutherland, Anne Archer and Michael Biehn are usually only heard from when their publicists have to issue a press release denying their deaths, but they are here, adding warm bodies to spout the inane words.

The final insult of this film is how it makes broad generalizations about the United Nations and the Chinese and treats them like gospel truth. There is a place for political statements in movies, but in good movies, made by competent people with something to say. Assholes spouting right wing dogma and then making up shit to back it up should not be humored, or at least not taken so seriously.

One fucking finger up the ass of Hollywood for "The Art of War." I'm pissed, but I would be even more pissed if I had paid. Instead I snuck in after paying to see "Bring It On." I won't review that movie for reasons I will not explain, but "Bring it On" is way fucking better than the trailer made it look, or than I expected. Go see that, then throw a stinkbomb into the theater showing "Art of War" on your way out.

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