The Art of War (2000)

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Released 16-May-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On Set
Interviews-Cast
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 112:26
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Christian Duguay
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Wesley Snipes
Anne Archer
Maury Chaykin
Marie Matiko
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Michael Biehn
Donald Sutherland
Case C-Button-Version 2
RPI $34.95 Music Normand Corbeil


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Art of War is named after a famous book on the subject of strategy, written by Sun Tzu, which is regarded by many as a classic (if not the classic) treatise on strategy in warfare. This movie is not based on the book.

    The movie begins with a "Mission: Impossible" style operation, conducted by Wesley Snipes and his team. It's rather nicely done, and much better than MI:2. We learn fairly quickly that this team is part of Covert Operations, working for the United Nations, under the direction of Anne Archer. Donald Sutherland is the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Anne Archer is working for him. It is on the next assignment for the team that things go awry. I can't say much more without spoiling things, but I will say that this plot is complex, twisted, and may require multiple viewings to disentangle. There's plenty of action, both hand-to-hand (actually, body-part-to-body-part!) and using firearms. There are a couple of brutal moments, but they are over quickly.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is quite a good transfer, but there are some small flaws.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is generally nice and sharp - on occasions a little too sharp for Anne Archer's sake; she looks old, and overly made-up, with the sharpness making things all too clear. A softer image would have been kinder to her, but the rest of the movie benefits from the sharpness. Shadow detail is good, and there seems to be no low-level noise.

    Colour is generally quite good. I saw no colour bleed, and colour balance is maintained at all times.

    I saw no film artefacts, and I wouldn't expect to on a film made so recently. Aliasing was well-controlled, and I saw no other film-to-video or MPEG artefacts.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change placed at 61:13. It is placed in the middle of a scene, between shots of the groovy hand-held web browser (I want one!) and Wesley Snipes - he pauses quite noticeably. Not a good layer change at all.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    I hope you want this film in English, because that's all you get - an English 5.1 soundtrack and English subtitles. Strangely enough, I listened to the English soundtrack.

    Dialogue is generally quite clear, although a few words get lost in some of the crowd scenes. There is a noticeable ADR slip at 17:33, which I confirmed is present on the R1 disc as well - clearly a defect in the source material. Audio sync is generally spot-on - I didn't notice any other slips.

    The score is a problem. The music is fine - appropriate to the action - but it is much too loud. It seems as though the makers of this film felt they could make it more exciting by making it louder. All that does is make me turn the volume down, but that makes the dialogue harder to hear. Hey! It is called background music for a reason - it is supposed to be in the background. Unfortunately, the R1 disc is just as loud - clearly this was the choice of the makers, not the DVD mastering team.

    The surrounds were used well - ambient sounds and directional effects - nice. The subwoofer got lots of work supporting the score and sound effects, and was well-integrated into the soundscape.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    We get quite a few extras, but they are all fairly short. I would really have liked a commentary, but there isn't one.

Menu

    The menu is interesting, with a slow animated build. Once it is up we get a minor animation behind it, and the movie's theme playing. Rather better than the R1 menu, I must say.

Theatrical Trailer

    It's just a trailer - but it is presented 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound - that's how trailers should be presented. The R1 has the same trailer, but with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - On Set

    This is just under 13 minutes, presented 1.33:1, but it shows some interesting moments during the filming. The choreography of some of the fight scenes is amusing. The number of cameras used simultaneously is surprising, as in the apparent insistence of the director on shooting a lot of the footage himself (he began as a cinematographer).

Interviews

    These are presented 1.33:1, and are very brief - a still of a question, followed by an answer from the cast member or director - most of the answers last a few seconds. Not very satisfying.

Cast and Crew Biographies

    These are reasonably detailed bios for four of the actors, and the director. They include full filmographies. The R1 disc also includes biographies, but they are abbreviated to just filmographies.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:     The two discs contain the same movie, presented identically, except for NTSC vs PAL. They show the same small flaws. The R4 does have more extras, but none of them are particularly compelling. The R4 also has nicer menus. The R1 has a snapper case, which I detest, but the R4 is presented in a C-button case, which I don't like either. The artwork on the R1 case has black bands at the top and bottom, which I think is correct, while the R4 replaces the black with white - it looks odd. I think I'd call this one a draw, or a marginal win to the R4.

Summary

    The Art Of War is a reasonable movie presented fairly well on DVD.

    The video quality is quite good.

    The audio quality is good, but too loud - turn it down a bit.

    The extras are OK.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, May 14, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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