The presence of Wesley Snipes lent a certain kitsch value to the previous Art of War movies that almost managed to make them watchable, but his absence in this third instalment renders the spy thriller utterly pointless. Art of War 3: Retribution feels like an episode of the television show 24 made with the budget of daytime soap opera. Taking its name from the ancient Chinese military treatise, the series follows a government agent, Neil Shaw, with Anthony "Treach" Criss filling Snipes's shoes. Somehow it is not just Criss's physical performance in the film's many action scenes that falls flat; his terrible delivery and complete lack of charisma are enough to make you yearn for Snipes suddenly to appear in the shot. Shaw and a rookie agent called Jason (Warren Derosa), are monitoring an illicit arms deal that could end up providing North Korea with a nuclear weapon. The pow-wow quickly becomes a bloodbath and the agents are forced to make a quick getaway, escaping with not just their lives, but a mysterious woman (Sung Hi Lee), whose involvement in the deal is uncertain. Cue a race across the South Korean capital to prevent an attack on a forthcoming UN conference. The action scenes and special effects are so poorly executed that you actually long for more of the corny dialogue and fewer karate chops.
* Oliver Good