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The Art of War (2000)

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Shaw is an operative for the United Nations' covert dirty-tricks squad, using espionage and quasi-ethical tactics to secure peace and cooperation. When a shipping container full of dead ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Neil Shaw
... Eleanor Hooks
... Frank Capella
... Julia Fang
... David Chan
... Robert Bly
... Douglas Thomas
... Jenna Novak
... Ambassador Wu
... Ray, FBI Agent
... Ochai
... Ming
... Anna Li
... Tina Chan
Erin Selby ... Hong Kong Reporter


Shaw is an operative for the United Nations' covert dirty-tricks squad, using espionage and quasi-ethical tactics to secure peace and cooperation. When a shipping container full of dead Vietnamese refugees turns up on the docks and China's ambassador is gunned down at a dinner celebrating a new trade agreement with China and the US, Shaw is framed for the murder and must evade the FBI and Triad gangsters to find out what is really going on. Written by Jeff Cross <blackjac_1998@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Who is your foe? See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, some sexuality, language and brief drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

Warner Bros.




Release Date:

25 August 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El arte de la guerra  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,410,993, 27 August 2000, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The nice blue glow that lights the final confrontation between Wesley Snipes' character and his ex-partner was achieved by shining a light into a pool of water that had a mirror at the bottom. See more »


When Shaw and Capella are in the car outside the UN building before the final scenes, Capella's Motorola i1000plus rings. While he answers it the LED on the top of the phone stays red - meaning 'no service'. He then hands the active call to Shaw who talks, and the whole time the LED is still red - the phone is not in service. See more »


[first lines]
Jenna Novak: What is he waiting for?
[putting on headset]
Jenna Novak: What are you waiting for?
Neil Shaw: [over radio] Novak, I'm experiencing the moment.
Bly: He's going to experience a Chinese labor camp in a moment if he doesn't stick to schedule.
See more »


Spoofed in Zoolander (2001) See more »


La fleur que tu m'avais jetee
Written by Georges Bizet
Performed by Nikola Nikolov
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An unimaginative telling of a tale we've already heard. ** (out of four).
27 September 2001 | by See all my reviews

THE ART OF WAR / (2000) ** (out of four)

By Blake French:

The Art of War refers to an ancient handbook by a mighty Asian general named Sun Tsu, who hypothesized that wars can be won without physical combat. Numerous powerful leaders, including Napoleon, defeated their enemies by using the ideas of Sun Tsu. According to the action flick "The Art of War," Tsu's theories apply to the world of business and politics as they do to war.

"It's about strategy, manipulation and control, all the way through," says director Christian Duguay, whose credits include TV's "Joan of Arc," and "The Assignment." "The whole film is based on the theme of manipulation and the idea that things are not what they appear. That's what I think makes this film very unique and exciting."

Or how about confusing and hard to follow, better words to describe what Christian calls "one character manipulating the other, who is manipulating still another." The production notes inform us on the ancient techniques and strategy of manipulation, but "The Art of War" is not the movie to justify those principles. After half a dozen plot twists, even more action sequences, and probably more hidden character motives, this film becomes exactly what Tsu condemned: the actual fighting of war. There's enough action in this movie to classify it as a mixture of material arts and a James Bond, but after one perplexing situation after another, we simply toss our arms and stop caring altogether.

Instead of a plot description, let's examine the sources of this movie's recycled story. First, we get a man who is wrongfully accused for a murder he did not commit. In a strike of luck and personal investigation, he gets the chance to prove himself innocent after escaping from the police during a transportation accident. Yes, that sounds like "The Fugitive." Now throw in the film's follow up "U.S. Marshals," about an accused government agent using his insider knowledge while an Asian thug tracks him down. Combine the two similar plots and you get something like "The Art of War," straight from the recycling plant to your personal viewing pleasure.

Working with a forty-million dollar budget, Snipes himself performs many of his own stunts and combat sequences. The film does offer some exciting, if conventional, action sequences, but I wanted a smart plot about political tactics and clever espionage, not run-of-the-mill action. Anne Archer and Maury Chaykin contribute effective performances as the villains, and Snipes does good things with his character. But the plot just doesn't work. It houses too many characters, too many plot complications, and too much technical government stuff. "The Art of War" is pretty much an unimaginative telling of a tale we've already heard.

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