The Scorpion King: A Solid B-Movie

The Scorpion King (2002)
Universal Pictures
Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kelly Hu, and Michael Clarke Duncan
Rated PG-13 for action, sensuality, and peril (why not, it’s as ridiculous as rating something based on smoking)
92 minutes

You’ve got to hand it to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, he’s had a pretty successful film career that has been compared to that of Sylvester Stallone’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. The former WWE star, turned actor made his first film appearance as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns in 2001. Unfortunately, for fans of The Rock, his appearance was a mere cameo; he’s in the first ten minutes only to return as a CG version during the climax of the movie. Onward to The Scorpion King, a B-movie tale about the life and adventures of a character only hinted at in The Mummy Returns, now the hero of his own action-adventure.

On the eve of The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior’s DVD release, I thought it was time to look back at the original film and remember what made it so much fun. Several elements help it fit this description: its cheesy acting, its over-the-top action sequences, its somewhat decent special effects. All make The Scorpion King a worthwhile film for anyone who likes action movies. And I do.

Here’s the rundown (which also happens to be the title of another movie starring The Rock), the Scorpion King, at this point named Mathayus, must race against time to save his homeland from and assassinate the evil Memnon (played by Stephen Bran sporting a mullet), while enlisting the help of Memnon’s sorceress Cassandra (the sexy Kelly Hu), and rival Balthazar (Michael Clarke Duncan from The Green Mile). But who’s watching The Scorpion King for its intricacies of plot, or dynamic character growth? We all know it’s worth watching for its kick-ass action!

And that’s what The Scorpion King delivers on a massive scale. The opening action sequence alone makes the film watchable, and the fight between Mathayus and Balthazar makes one wonder what a battle between Rambo and the Terminator would have been like back in the 80s. It’s fun to watch, and while not high-art by any means, keeps your interest throughout.

Bottom line: if you liked the first two Mummy films, are a fan of The Rock (who now goes only by Dwayne Johnson), like campy historical epics like Troy, or are salivating over the incoming sequel (actually prequel, and no, Dwayne Johnson is nowhere to be found), the The Scorpion King is a real treat. However, if your idea of film fun is Brideshead Revisited, you may want to stay away.

The Scorpion King gets an A-.

Fans of Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock, can also see him in the following films:

Get Smart (fun and funny, too)
The Game Plan (good for kids, not for adults)
Gridiron Gang (if you like sports movies, check it out)
Doom (like the video game, but painful for the viewer)
Be Cool (sequel to Get Shorty, he plays a gay bouncer)
The Rundown (good action, funny, and Christopher Walken, need I say more!)
Walking Tall (good action, but lack of a sub-plot makes it too short!)

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