The Scorpion King ably rehashes the plots of the variety of other, better films including Gladiator, the Indiana Jones series, Flash Gordon, Beastmaster, and even The Goonies. Set 5,000 years ago, a warlord named Memnon (Steven Brand), acting on crazed Napoleonic urges, ravages the land and bends its people into totalitarian rule. With the aid of a seer who foretells the future, Memnon stands invincible against all aggressors.
As the last remaining tribes gather together to stand between Memnon and the throne, they enlist the aid of Mathayus (The Rock), an Akkadian assassin hired to kill Memnon's seer and turn the tide of war. Mathayus breaks into Memnon's palace and kills a bunch of people with his enormous sword, only to discover the seer is an encredibly hot chick named Cassandra (Kelly Hu). He takes her hostage, does battle with Memnon's pursuing thugs, and falls in love with the girl before returning to fight Memnon in his palace once again.
Predecessors The Mummy and The Mummy Returns stand as intellectual masterpieces next to The Scorpion King. Even if you liked those two movies, there's no guarantee of a repeat performance: This film has nothing to do with its predecessors in any way, except as a reminder of how well The Rock tested with audiences in his cameo in The Mummy Returns.
The bad jokes, atrocious acting (and not just from The Rock), and the monotonous series of swordfights actually had me nodding off. In the hands of hack director Chuck Russell (Eraser, Bless The Child), The Scorpion King is nothing more than a series of standard fight sequences involving fire and steel, set to a continuous 1980s guitar riff. The special effects are awful, including not just the landscapes and armies, but also comprising the perfectly placed strands of CG hair over Kelly Hu's now-PG-13-friendly breasts.
As for The Rock, he is given no more than ten syllables of dialogue per scene, which he still manages to over-enunciate, sounding suspiciously like cue card reading [But that would require reading. -Ed.] WWF head honcho Vince McMahon actually executive-produced the film, and his marketing machine will do its best to ensure you bypass the scores of one-star reviews like this one and propel this film to number one on opening day.
Fight the power.
Say what you will about The Rock's acting ability (and honestly, that ain't much), but he and his cronies have produced a suitably lavish affair for the DVD release of The Scorpion King. Various in-film features let you see alternate scenes and even picture-in-picture video of The Rock commenting on the action, but unfortunately when you activate these vignettes, you end up having to watch the commented/alternate scenes twice in a row. Other bits include a funny short about the antics and rivalry between The Rock and Michael Clarke Duncan, a couple of silly outtakes (Duncan cannot get on a horse to save his life), and various documentaries. It isn't a great movie, or even a good one, but the production of the disc is all-out.
Rock like pretty lady! Like pretty lady!!!!!
Run time: 92 mins
In Theaters: Friday 19th April 2002
Box Office USA: $90.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $165M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Alphaville Films, Kalima Productions GmbH & Co. KG, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 80
IMDB: 5.5 / 10
Director: Chuck Russell
Starring: Dwayne Johnson as Mathayus, Kelly Hu as Cassandra, Michael Clarke Duncan as Balthazar, Steven Brand as Memnon, Bernard Hill as Philos, Grant Heslov as Arpid, Peter Facinelli as Takmet, Ralf Möller as Thorak, Branscombe Richmond as Jesup, Roger Rees as King Pheron, Sherri Howard as Queen Isis, Conrad Roberts as Chieftain, Joseph Ruskin as Tribal Leader, Esteban Cueto as Third Akkadian, Nils Allen Stewart as Torturer