Film: The Art of War

If you were looking for the epic Chinese poem about war strategy, go here.

The Art of War is a 2000 action film directed by Christian Duguay, starring Wesley Snipes, Anne Archer, Micheal Biehn, and Donald Sutherland.

Neil Shaw (Snipes) is a covert operative assigned to the United Nations, who is apparently framed for a high-profile assassination by his employers.

It was followed by two Direct-to-Video sequels, the last of which did not feature Snipes.


This film provides examples of:

  • Alone With The Big Bad
  • Assassins Are Always Betrayed: Shaw is an assassin/covert agent for the UN, who has to uncover an international conspiracy after being set up, by his employer, Eleanor Hooks (Anne Archer), with help from his best friend and fellow agent, Bly.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: An improvised version occurs during a Gun Struggle, with the protagonist jamming the barrel of The Dragon's pistol against a marble floor and forcing him to fire, causing part of the slide to fly back into his face from the confined gunshot.
  • Conveniently Empty Building: The U.N. building is apparently manned by one security guard.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: There's a Bait and Switch when Wesley Snipes appears to be using Marie Matiko's character to infiltrate a Triad brothel, which is hidden behind a Front Organisation of a restaurant. Instead he handcuffs her to the steering wheel, grabs a crate of groceries which are being unloaded from a truck, and walks in that way.
  • Emergency Stash: Neil Shaw accessed an emergency stash of I.D. and money. It was hidden behind a mirror in the apartment of the one comrade who didn't betray him.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Shaw fakes his death and escapes to France, only to have his picture taken as he walks off arm-in-arm with Fang, by the same man who took the blackmail photos earlier.
  • Gun Kata: The film had a similar style fight in an empty hallway. A certain amount of respect and honor was loaded into the scene, as when they ran out of bullets, they went back to back and talked while casually reloading. Shaw and Bly spend most of the fight throwing snapshots... panic firing. It's more like Gun Fu since they still use acrobatic dodging.
  • I Know You're Watching Me: After being arrested and left alone in an interrogation room, Shaw raps suddenly on the glass, startling a female witness who's been called in to identify him, and causing a cop to spill his coffee.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Shaw is checking out a Triad hangout when the police raid it. He apparently evades them, but a black FBI agent starts moving in the same direction he did, gun at the ready. Later one of the perps is getting in the face of several officers when that same agent appears, slams the man's head into the table, then hauls him outside to the amusement of the officers. It turns out to be Wes wearing the FBI man's cap and raid jacket.
  • Tracking Device: Shaw suspects Fang has a tracking device on her clothes and makes her take it all off and throw the clothes out the window of their car. Needless to say she is not happy. Later Shaw finds a tracking sensor and realises he is the one who has the tracking device implanted under his skin by a doctor working in league with The Mole, who 'accidentally' injured him during a basketball game.
  • Treachery Cover-Up: Shaw is set up for the murder of the Chinese ambassador in the middle of US-China trade talks. After finding out that a UN Liason/Covert Mission Control who was involved in the talks is the mastermind, he reveals the truth to the Triads. She is murdered by a member of the Triads and is lauded as a hero, who gave her life to ensure the success of US-China trade relations. Of course, this also serves as a big "fuck you" to her, as she was secretly working on sabotaging the talks.
  • Underside Ride: Happens near the end, when Shaw escapes from a group of assassins by lying flat in the road, seemingly to avoid being hit by an oncoming truck. When it passes, he's nowhere to be seen, until it's revealed he escaped by grabbing on to the undercarriage.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: Neil Shaw is an agent working for a United Nations black ops team that uses espionage, assassination, and other quasi-ethical methods to ensure cooperation from problematic nations.
  • We Need a Distraction: The Big Bad ensures the building is empty by announcing a fake motion detector test, causing all security to leave the affected areas except the poor sap in the monitor room.