The Scorpion King (2002)

Rating: **
Release Date: 4/26/02
Producer: Vince McMahon
Director: Chuck Russell
Written By: Stephen Sommers, David Hayter
Fight Choreography: Al Leong
Drum Choreography: Sho Kosugi
Cast: Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Kelly Hu

Stupid, but fun. A lighthearted barbarian brawl in the tradition of "Kull The Conqueror" (1997) that takes nothing seriously, least of all itself. While touted as a spin-off of "The Mummy Returns" (2001), there is absolutely no connection. The writers couldn't find one either, so instead of coming up with a lame-brained explanation, they just quietly ignore the whole issue. This actually serves the film well, as any implied connection would have been laughably absurd and difficult to justify and defend. So what have we got? A super swordsman named Memnon with ambitions to rule the world is causing the people grief. Trained in the secret arts of assassination, Methias (Dwayne Johnson) is hired to kill Memnon's sacred seer (Kelly Hu) in order to weaken his military strength. Unfortunately, he's betrayed by the people who hired him and ends up rescuing the sorceress instead of killing her. Along with some other newfound friends, Methias plots revenge against Memnon and inspires the people to raise arms against him.

Ho hum. We've been here before, but it's still a fun place to be. The bloodless battles are stylized and energetic, but the irresponsible cartoon violence aspect leaves you feeling a bit unsatisfied. Probably the influence of the World Wrestling Federation, which had a large hand in the production of the film. The Rock is adequate as Methias and his physical presence is pretty awesome. His fight scenes are well executed and he handles a sword with confidence. However, it's hard to accept that a barbarian warrior such as himself would have such perfectly plucked eyebrows. While the dialog is corny, his delivery is adequate, although he tries too hard to look fierce and serious which oddly gives the impression that he's lampooning himself. Kelly Hu, as always, is delightful to watch. She has little to do in the film other than look defiantly sexy, wear skimpy clothing, and speak more articulately than the rest of the cast. Not her best outing, but I'm not complaining. The visual effects are adequate for the most part, with the biggest embarrassment being the computer animated cobras. Unnecessary and uninteresting. When you're dealing with imaginary foes, it's difficult to create a tangible and believable sense of fear and tension without making it look silly. Finally, the music score is quite good and reminiscent of "Kull" with its electric guitar aided orchestrations. Good mindless fun that requires no thought and defies all explanation.