Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Andreas Wisniewski, Tom Wu, Karen Shenaz David, Randy Couture, Michael Copon
Directed by Russell Mulcahy
Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment
I know what you’re thinking … “What in the world is Dread Central reviewing this for?” Honestly we almost didn’t. The only reason that it was even on the radar was because this franchise is the bastard son of the effects heavy Mummy movies. Even then though the original The Scorpion King was little more than a straight action movie with barely any supernatural elements at all. The lack of creatures of any kind in the first film was ultimately its downfall. It just deviated way too far from the formula that made the Mummy flicks work. With The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior director Russell Mulcahy is out to correct that wrong and does so on a scale that’s better than expected.
After seeing his fathered killed by a demonic curse young Mathayus (Copon who looks and acts amazingly just like a younger version of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) begins his training so that he may become a warrior strong enough to vanquish those responsible for giving his dad an untimely dirt nap. Nearing his twenties he returns to the scene of the crime to find out that the person responsible, Sargon (the UFC’s brawler, Randy Couture) has now become king with the help of an evil witch who has taught him the ways of the dark arts. The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior pits sword against good old fashioned fisticuffs, and some evil sorcery with enjoyable results.
The best part? We finally get some beasties, and enough so to warrant this review here as much as the films of the The Mummy franchise. From top to bottom we get ghosts, minotaurs, mutants, the living dead, swarms of bugs, witches, and of course a giant scorpion for the film’s finale. This flick had every right to suck, and suck hard. Yet those associated with it clearly had other plans. What we have here is a fast paced, well acted (at least for the most part) action flick that doesn’t shy away from its clear and prominent horror elements. Sure it’s not perfect as it does succumb to a plethora of direct-to-video woes such as poorly done CGI, and lines that even the most talented thespian in the world couldn’t pull off convincingly, but it does so with its heart completely in the right place and in the spirit of old-school supernatural themed adventure. I’m still in a state of astonishment that this ended up as well as it did.
Even the DVD is pretty stacked. A movie like this would normally be sentenced to the usual making-of featurette, trailer, and out, way of thinking, but again, we get more than just that. First up is a fourteen minute making-of that in all fairness is engaging but also finds itself on the cookie cutter side of the fence. However, the supplemental goodness then takes a good turn. Up next are five featurettes that clock in at anywhere from four to ten minutes long each, which not only move at a brisk pace but are actually a solid watch. This movie looks like it has a budget way bigger than it did and after watching these featurettes its no wonder why — the cast and crew were enjoying themselves and it really shows. Cap things off with a gag reel and about four and a half minutes of deleted scenes and we’re out the door with a smile. Good stuff.
Oh the joys of watching films that aren’t just phoned-in when they easily could have been! The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior has all of the charm and bite missing from the near depressingly silly The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (review here). It’s a sequel that atones for the sins of the original and surprisingly gives viewers all that could be expected from a low-budget direct-to-video offering and then some.
3 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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