- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The book was originally written for Helu, the ruler of the Kingdom of Wu. About fifty or so years after Sun Tzu's death, Wu was completely destroyed and absorbed by the Kingdom of Yue. Additional points when you consider that Helu's son and successor Fu Chai did many things that Sun Tzu (and The Art Of War) would have frowned upon.
- Hype Backlash: Frequently advertised as the book about war, some point out that most of it is common sense. This may be Values Dissonance as common sense may not have been as common back then.
- Magnificent Bastard: This is a goal to which all generals should aspire. As the book notes:
"To win a hundred battles is not of the supreme excellence. To subdue one's enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."
- Older Than They Think: The Art of War is frequently thought of as a fairly modern book. It is not — general Sun lived in the sixth century BC (700-600 BC) and was a contemporary of Darius I of Persia and Confucius.
- Values Dissonance: Today, some of the tactics he advocates would be considered war crimes at worst and state-funded terrorism at best. See also Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty. Examples include pretending to set up truce talks to lure enemies into a trap and attacking the enemy without declaring war. This might be part of the whole point of the book being a Combat Pragmatist but ethics still have a place in warfare. The central assumption behind pretty much the entire work is that the reader will remain in a superior position because of his adherence to these tenets. In real life, almost no one can maintain military and political dominance one hundred percent of the time, and doing things like staging false peace talks and attacking the enemy without declaring war would mean that your enemies would settle for nothing less than your annihilation. What qualifies as "pragmatic" has changed over the millennia. Also, it was written for one king in particular, but the work has since spread everywhere, making it no longer revolutionary knowledge by default.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome:
- Shaw escaping the Triad assassins who kidnapped and framed him.
- Shaw taking out the assassin who killed Jenna and the brief Lock and Load Montage.
- "I was thinking—neighborhood rules." "Sounds good to me." Cue Gun Kata battle with suppressed pistols.
- Shaw tricking the Big Bad Eleanor Hooks into getting in a limo with a Triad assassin, who kills her for betraying the Triads.
- Designated Hero: Neil Shaw, to more and more of an extent as the series goes on. In the first film he's a competent enough agent, though kind of a Jerkass. In the second film he makes numerous basic errors of logic and judgement, and at the end he casually murders his love interest just in the name of getting the villain to frame himself. The third film takes it Up to Eleven, as he unknowingly takes the bad guy or rather bad girl into his confidence, then ends up killing at least a dozen or so South Korean intelligence agents, before unwittingly facilitating the assassination of South Korea's U.N. representative and nearly getting the Secretary-General of the U.N. herself killed. After all that you'd think the Secretary-General would be only too happy to hand Shaw over to the South Korean authorities and let them hang him out to dry, but she instead ends the film by telling Shaw that he's the only person the U.N. can trust with their lives.
- Fight Scene Failure: Averted by the first film, which has some pretty decent action sequences. Zig-zagged by the second film, which has about as many poorly-executed sequences as good ones. Turned Up to Eleven by the third, the action sequences in which generally tend to consist of people just standing around and firing their guns randomly, with background objects occasionally exploding for no obvious reason.
- Funny Moments:
- Shaw lying that he's Eddie Murphy and doing a horrible impression of Axel Foley's laugh.
- Capella yelling to be freed from a revolving door (after being used to trick Bly), after Bly's dramatic death.
- Sequelitis: The second film isn't especially good, but for a direct-to-DVD action film it could certainly have been worse. The third film, on the other hand, is much, MUCH worse, thanks to bizarre casting decisions, terrible action sequences and a massive Idiot Plot.
- Tearjerker: The deaths of Jenna and Julia's friend and her mother.