The Art Of War (18) 117 mins H

For all its hi-tech trimmings, this is a ' routine, straight-to-VIdeo thriller in which undercover agent Wesley Snipes tries to unravel a conspiracy designed to scupper a US/Chinese trade agreement. The assassination of Ambassador Wu on the eve of the historic, UN-sanctioned deal throws into doubt the future of East/West trade. But UN translator Julia (Marie

Matiko) has a video tape of the I incident that casts suspicion over powerful Chinese businessman David Chan (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).

Armed With the incriminating footage, Snipes, his long-time partner Bly (Michael Biehn) and innocent Citizen Julia try to untangle a web of corporate chicanery, diplomatic deceit and ruthless violence. The key to the


Urban Legends: Final Cut (15) 98 mins Hz

A Jerk-off horror sequel which opens with an amateurish scene on an out- of-control passenger plane and immediately plummets to a mental altitude of zero. Substituting in-iokey references for plotting, character and suspense, it is linked back to the already tired original via sparky campus security guard Reese (Loretta DeVine). Inspired by Reese’s account of the urban legend-related killings at Pendleton High, film student Amy abandons her documentary project in favour of a psychological thriller based on those murders. But competition for the prestigious Hitchcock Award, and g associated ticket to Hollywood, is fierce. So fierce that members of Amy’s crew start getting bumped off in ways that echo classic horror movies.

Exhausting hell-for-leather direction

mystery may lie in the writings of Japanese military strategist Sun Tsu, whose anCient book, The Art Of War, advocated destrOying one's enemies from Within, thus obviating the need to engage them directly in battle. Christian Duguay’s hell-for-leather direction, rapid-fire editing and ham- fisted inter-cutting of Windy exposition With high-octane chase scenes is exhausting and ineffective. The tone and pacing are erratic to the pomt of incoherence and Duguay seldom gets the best from his talented cast. Only Anne Archer, cast against type as a hard-nosed diplomat, and Maury Chaykin, as a mordantly funny police detective, SurVive the death of a thousand cuts. Will no one ever create a suitable cinematic vehicle for Snipes’ charismatic action hero persona? (Nigel Floyd) I General release from Fri 8 Dec.

Substitutes jokes for plotting and suspense

The Chinese Boxes structure involving SUicide, mystery tWin brothers, famous fathers and long- festering resentments is merely an over-elaborate shell built around a moral and intellectual vacuum. The only seriously disturbing moment occurs when Amy’s crew watch what they believe to be rushes of a Peeping Tom-style killing, unaware that they’re actually watching a ’snuff’ mowe starring one of their friends. All except Amy herself judge the shocking verite' footage to be well executed and 'cool’.

Editor/composer-turned-director John Ottman serves up plenty of nastiness, while relative newcomer Jennifer Morrison invests Amy With more psychological depth than the poorly written role deserves. Rent the video if you must, but don't waste time and money seeing it at the cinema.

(Nigel Floyd) I General release from Fri 7 Dec.


reviews FILM


An essential part of your Scottish Christmas

One of Scotland’s greatest storytellers - traveller Stanley Robertson - joins forces with Theatre Workshop’s acclaimed artistic team and top Scottish folk musician David Francis, to create

a new Christmas show for all the family.

Performances: Thursday 7 - Friday 29 December. ' Performance times vary from 10.30am to 7.30pm.

Call the Box Office on 0131 226 5425 for more details.


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“Wealrebabel i" .l . iJ-t'l'(‘(.“ll(.'l’()/l With the Tron 'M"‘.l,_x i TRON P E E RPA N ' Bar 3' a magical -V how for Christmas Restaurant

. 7099

30 Kori-1 Dec ZCCQTHE “ST 29