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Case Number 16977: Small Claims Court

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The Art Of War III: Retribution

Sony // 2008 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // August 7th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Joel Pearce was once hunted by a United Nations assassin.

The Charge

Know your enemy.

The Case

I was going to write a funny, tongue-in-cheek review describing The Art of War III: Retribution as a brilliant exploration of contemporary international espionage, but it's just not worth it. The original The Art of War was a cheesy second-rate thriller and, from all reports, the sequel was significantly worse. The third is absolute bottom-of-the-barrel tripe.

In it, Shaw (Treach, Connors' War) is a top-secret spy agent working for the United Nations (no, seriously), who is sent to monitor the sale of a nuclear weapon from Russia to North Korea. When that meeting ends in a bloodbath, Treach is left alone with his British sidekick Jason (Warren Derosa, Black Dawn) and a woman who was at the meeting (Sung-hi Lee, The Girl Next Door). They spend the rest of the movie running around South Korea, getting into firefights in various locations.

I feel a little silly writing this review. Anyone who is actually wondering whether The Art of War III: Retribution is a good movie isn't likely to take the time to read reviews, and anyone actually reading through DVD Verdict isn't likely to want to see The Art of War III: Retribution. So, who am I writing this for? I'm not sure, but you can drop me a feedback email if you want. It'll make me feel better for sitting through 90 minutes of this movie.

This is a movie so stupid that it includes the following:
• UN agents who run around with guns shooting people.
• Action scenes that consist of groups of people who stand in place shooting at each other for several minutes
• A top secret international spy played by Treach, who acts a lot more like a rapper.
• A nuclear bomb sale between North Korea and Russia that takes place in South Korea.
• Quotations from Sun Tzu being used as fortune cookie wisdom.
• A film camera that makes sound when it moves.

There's really no way around it, The Art of War III: Retribution is a terrible, terrible film. The other Art of War movies at least had Wesley Snipes, who has a modicum of personality and some martial arts skills. Here, Treach spends the whole time looking bored, and his version of martial arts involves very generic punching and kicking. The shootouts are handled even more ineptly. That leaves very few reasons to ever watch this film.

The only exception I can think of is if you are personally related to someone who was involved in the film. They might have worked really hard, and you should watch at least part of it to show your support. Tell them they did a nice job, then go watch a good movie.

The DVD looks okay. It was shot on the cheap, and looks more like a television show than a movie, but there aren't any flaws in the transfer itself. The sound is in 5.1, and does the job that's required of it. There are, thankfully, no special features on the disc. I don't think I would have made it through a commentary. There are, however, a shocking number of audio and subtitle options, suggesting that somebody at Sony thought that people all over the world would be clamoring to see it.

Bad acting, bad action, sloppy script…The Art of War III: Retribution has it all. Better action movies than this come out on DVD every week, so pick one of those instead. If you decide to watch it, don't come whining to me.

The Verdict

Guilty? Oh yes.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 30

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Japanese
• Korean
• Portuguese
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Bad

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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