The Art of Bore
"The Art of War" wasn't a great action movie but it worked even though the storyline was a mess. I wish I could say the same about "The Art of War II: Betrayal" because it certainly tries to deliver more of the same but because the storyline is more than a mess it just doesn't work. In fact it becomes a movie where you stop trying to follow the storyline and wait for either some martial arts action featuring Wesley Snipes or the special effects surrounding a new sort of gun. But it makes it a monotonous bore because whilst the action and special effects are good they are out weighed by the messy storyline which when you work it out is not in the least bit complex or as mysterious as it tries to make out.
Having retired from service and working as a consultant for a film star/ wannabee politician, Neil Shaw (Wesley Snipes - The Contractor) finds himself drawn back into action when a mentor and colleague is killed. And whilst snooping around he finds himself being set up for a murder of a politician forcing him to go fugitive in order to clear his name and bring down those that he discover are behind the plot.
So as mentioned the plot to "The Art of War" was a mess but when compared to "The Art of War II: Betrayal" it almost seems coherent. Here we have a storyline which tries to be so mysterious and deceptive that it becomes too much of a chore to try and follow and as such at random moments we are spoon-fed information to make it clear what is going on. The irony is that whilst an incoherent mess the actual storyline is not that complicated and is basically Shaw being set up for the murder of a politician and having to discover who it is pulling the strings behind the scenes.
Now it tries to be clever, there are scenes which are not as they seem such as when we witness what appears to be a journalist getting shot at in the middle east where the truth is that it is a film set where Shaw, under the alias of Stone consults. And along with these scenes we have characters that are not as they first seem and it is no spoiler to tell you that because it doesn't take a genius to work out who the false characters are so is just a matter of time for are suspicions to be verified.
This leads me to the fact that "The Art of War II: Betrayal" is full of character inconsistencies which makes many of them a complete and utter joke. The most notable of these is the character of Shaw himself and whilst we know Shaw is a smooth operator from the first movie for a guy trying to keep a low profile he certainly doesn't dress that way. It may look good to have Shaw dressed all in white with a white hat but he looks too fly for a guy trying to avoid attention.
What does this all mean? Well it means up you end up watching "The Art of War II: Betrayal" for two things the special effects and the action. Now whilst the special effects surrounding a super armour piercing bullet look fake they are also impressive and it is the sheer over the top aspect of them which makes them entertain. It is the same when it comes to the action because the martial arts heavy fights are impressive but they are seriously over the top and with them being edited to match a musical score some of them are seriously corny.
What this all boils down to is that "The Art of War II: Betrayal" really is an inferior sequel to a movie which was just about acceptable. It is really a mess and it ends up being a movie that you watch because you know there will be some stylish martial arts action rather than for anything else.