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The Scorpion King

Starring: The Rock
Director: Chuck Russell
Genre: Action
Year: 2002
Rating: 2 / 5

Before The Mummy Returns had even reached movie theatres, word had already spread about a spin-off for The Rock. Sure, the noted wrestler would have a little less than five minutes of screen time in The Mummy Returns, but that did little to hold up production of The Scorpion King. In fact, so eager were producers to get this film underway, The Rock was offered $5 million dollars to take his act to the big screen. $90 million in domestic box office later, producers are singing a happy tune. While the latest offering in the series may have paled in comparison to its two predecessors, it still managed to turn a tidy profit. Alas, if only the film itself held up nearly as well…

Mathayus (The Rock) is one of the last of a dying people, a tribe of assassins despised and feared by all. Hired along with two of his people to spirit away Cassandra (Kelly Hu), sorceress of Memnon (Steven Brand), Mathayus begins an ill-fated journey into enemy lands. An ambush awaits our hero, though, leading to the death of his colleagues and trouble for himself. Left for dead, Mathayus managed to escape and vows revenge. Not only must he stand up for his people and others under Memnon’s grasp, he has made a pledge to retrieve the sorceress, and his honor will let him do nothing less.

The Rock’s success or failure in the role of Mathayus is merely a matter of one’s point of view. Compared with early Arnold Schwarzenegger films, The Rock comes across as a much better actor, even if the story is not as strong. That being said, what came naturally for Arnold seems more forced with The Rock, who often seems to be biding time between witty quips. He certainly has the build for the part, and he does get to practice quite a few of his wrestling moves throughout the sandy landscape. His previous “experience” does liven up the action scenes, fortuitous considering his core demographic. Unfortunately, man cannot live on action alone.

Director Chuck Russell is not given a while lot to work worth, but he does not do much to save it either. We are provided with limited history regarding the origins of Mathayus, something I supposed was essential when producing a prequel about a character. We merely see Mathayus as a bad-ass, take-no-prisoners warrior, one who likes pummeling bad guys and winning the girl. Speaking of which, Kelly Hu is stunning in a role that requires her to do little more than fight and wax philosophic while managing to cover herself with scant clothing. Then again, this is an action film – a “guy” movie – and we have come to expect little else. The Rock may yet amount to something at the box office, but this film is certainly not his defining effort.

Cast:

The Rock..........Mathayus
Steven Brand..........Memnon
Michael Clarke Duncan..........Balthazar
Kelly Hu..........Cassandra

Certification: Rated PG-13 for violence.
Running Time: 94 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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[critics]