|Star:||The Rock, Steven Brand, Michael Clarke Duncan, Kelly Hu, Grant Heslov|
|Cert / Year:||12 - PG13 / 2002|
In biblical times the army's of an evil tyrant Memnon have conquered most of the land, with the help of the beautiful sorceress Cassanda who foretells the future for him. The last few remaining tribal leaders hire Mathayus and his brother, a pair of assassins, to kill the sorceress. Of course Memnon is waiting for them and kills Mathayus's brother. Swearing revenge Mathayus kidnaps the sorceress in order to get to Memnon and kill him. This is the story of the man who would be the Scorpion king.
The last time we saw the Scorpion king he was some disastrously rendered computer effect in the less than impressive The Mummy Returns. This film is a supposed spin off of the Mummy series. I say supposed because in actuality is has almost nothing to do with the Mummy films at all. For a start it's not set in Egypt but in the holy lands. Next the Scorpion king (although he isn't that yet as this precedes the events of The Mummy Returns) is not a bad guy at the head of Anubis's undead army; he's not even a bad guy but the hero. Lastly forget magic, trap ridden pyramids, supernatural creatures, etc. This film is nearer to being a sequel to Conan than anything to do with The Mummy.
Is the fact that this is a different type of film than the series a bad thing? Well based on the disappointing effect reliant The Mummy Returns then change is definitely a good thing. In the process of Stephen Sommers delivering a script that is more reliant on swords and stunts rather than monsters he has removed most of the weaknesses of his previous film. There are a couple of moments of CGI, and although they are the films strongest moments, they aren't an abject failure. Thankfully director Chuck Russell keeps things on track and ensures that the fights come think and fast.
The similarities to the Conan films are rather obvious from the giant stone palaces to the comic sidekick played to great effect by Grant Heslov. Everything here has a familiar feel. Just like Arnie in Conan The Rock gets little chance to act, this is a case of look good and hit things. Thankfully he handles this limited role well, but it would take until Rundown for him to prove himself capable of more. The sorceress seems to be a character ripped straight out of the Bond film Live and Let Die with Kelly Hu being basically Jane Seymour's Solitaire in fewer clothes. She may not be original but boy does she look good. What would a swords and sorcery film be without a giant hulking man mountain, and who better to add weight to this role than Michael Clarke Duncan (although the fake scars look awful). All we need now is super skilled bad guy (and as this is Hollywood lets make him English) luckily Steven Brand is both English and a good actor producing a great bad guy in exactly the way the Richard Roxburgh doesn't.
Despite it's more Middle Eastern setting this film delivers nothing really that Conan hasn't already delivered. However it does it at such a pace and with so much action that you can't help but enjoy this slice of big dumb fun. The fights are well choreographed and impressive and so numerous that they practically never end. Gone is the over reliance on computer effects and what is left is something far more fun and much more enjoyable. It would have been nice if the ending had have been a little more downbeat linking it back to The Mummy Returns but you can't have everything. This is one action movie that delivers the action, so sit back switch your brain off and enjoy the rise of the Scorpion King.
Warrior. Legend. King.
The Sorceress: Do you think it's safe to drink?
(Arpid jumps into the pond.)
Mathayus: Not anymore.
Arpid: After a long day of pillaging and looting, there's no city like Gomorrah... except maybe Sodom.
Philos: Good lord. Are you going to kill me?
Mathayus: Maybe later.