The Art of War III: Retribution (2009)

Genre(s): Action
Sony || R - 88 minutes - $24.96 || August 11, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-17

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Gerry Lively
Writer(s): Joe Halpin (written by)
Cast: Treach, Warren Derosa, Sung Hi Lee, Janet Carroll, Leo Lee

Supplemental Material:

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

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.::THE FILM::.

Other than how this project was initially created, apparently filmed around the same time as The Art of War 2, thereís nothing about The Art of War III that is in any way interesting. In fact, the movie is downright awful. The back-story is that the movie, originally called Intervention, was being shot not too long after the first sequel. Of course, due to Snipesí legal troubles, a third movie was not in the cards for him. Oddly, he was the lucky one in the deal.

The so-called ďstoryĒ finds Shaw (played by Treach of ďNaughty By NatureĒ) once again working for the United Nations Secretary General (Janet Carroll) to keep the world at peace. The film opens with Shaw and his crew taking out some kind of bad guy Ė I think they explained but I forgot, not that it matters since it has nothing to do with the plot Ė followed by getting chewed out by his boss. Despite his public mess up, the boss sends Shaw to South Korea where a highly anticipated nuclear disarmament is going to be held between North and South Korea and it is apparent that those who do not want this to go through are attempting to gain a nuclear bomb to disrupt the events.

After that deal goes bad and Shaw is accused of murder, he and his rookie partner (Warren Derosa), along with a woman named Sun Yi (Sung Hi Lee) who was at this meeting, go on the run and try to figure out what went wrong and why.

Iím not going to expel more effort to unfold the entire plot because itís frankly nonsensical and just plain stupid... So, where to begin, where to begin... First off, the screenplay by Joe Halpin, the genius behind Walking Tall: Lone Justice, holds no suspense or intrigue and instead itís a plot that bores the hell out of you. The old double cross twist was obvious from the beginning and the finale was anti-climatic.

Next, and this is the biggest egregious of everything that is wrong, is the awful and atrocious casting/acting from Treach and frankly everyone else as well. While Wesley Snipes has lost his edge of the years, he at least had some semblance of charisma with his screen presence and line deliveries, something in which Treach lacks in every possible way. His performance is stilted, not helped by the fact the fight choreography was simply sad. Not hilarious bad, just sad.

There was one moment when Shaw and company escape from a warehouse by smashing a car through a garage door; they make a sharp left turn with the baddies hot in pursuit. When baddies make the corner, they find Shaw and Co. awaiting them with guns drawn. Ok, Iíll buy that they were at a dead end (why they didnít just make a right, I have no idea), but there was no purpose to this scene other than probably the director felt it looked cool with his low angle on Treach with two guns drawn, firing away and missing 95% of his targets. Between Shaw and his rookie partner, they manage to kill one baddie (with an infinite amount of bullets since I didnít see them reload) and injure another by running him over leaving the main baddie alive and well so he can show up at the end (no, thatís not the twist). Anyway, point is, even the way Treach and his cohorts (on both sides) fired their weapons looked absolutely ridiculous. Not only does he stand in the middle of the road with literally no cover, but manages to not get a single gunshot despite three baddies getting ample opportunity to kill him (oh, I wish they did if only to save me 50-minutes).

The sequence is only one of many that were absurdly bad and not in the fun bad kind of way either. Say what you will about some of the crap other direct-to-video actors put out there (see: Steven Seagal or, sadly enough, Val Kilmer), but at least those action scenes were kind of interesting, this looked cheap, rushed with little to no suspense. And thatís the reason I absolutely hated the movie. Itís not that the Art of War ďfranchiseĒ is near and dear to my heart, in fact I missed the second one and only saw the original in theaters 9 years ago, but itís a slap to the face of the audience not to provide one ounce of entertainment value and instead provide terrible acting, a stupid story and incredibly lazy directing.

I cannot and will not recommend that even fans of the Art of War movies bother to rent this. It holds nothing but cheap filmmaking at its worst. AVOID AT ALL COSTS! And I truly do not say that a lot given my appreciation for other direct-to-video crap.


Thankfully no features were included so no need to hear how great it was to work on the movie or how ingenious the story is.


The Art of War III: Retribution is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 1.85 aspect ratio. The picture doesnít look too bad all things considered. Itís not a particularly crisp looking transfer even by DVD standards, but I wasnít too disappointed and began to admire it after I lost interest in everything else.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track isnít anything that impressive but certainly acceptable. The bass is heavy at times and most of the lame gunfire has a nice impact with plenty of thumps and thuds.


Thereís nothing more to say than to stay away from this stinker. Far, far, far away.