THE SCORPION KING 2: RISE OF A WARRIOR
Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
What's it about
Young Akkadian Mathayus, formerly played by Mr. The Rock in THE SCORPION KING, is seen here in one of his earlier adventure and is played by Michael Copon. Mathayus embarks on a typical hero quest with the girl and the slightly goofy sidekick to seek revenge against... UFC champion Randy Couture! There’s swords, sorcery and plenty of sandals too.
Is it good movie?
Another franchise goes the “prequel” route. Actually, I suppose THE SCORPION KING itself was a prequel, so consider this a pre-prequel.... based on a sequel. To a movie that was a remake.
Based on all that (and the fact that the movie actually exists in the first place), you can’t be expecting me to start this by saying THE SCORPION KING 2 is highly original, or its own beautiful, unique snowflake, or something like that.. It’s seriously silly, with a whole lot of boneheaded dialogue and a few genuinely unflattering acting turns. But there are parts when the general dumbness starts to become good dumb fun. Old genre pro Russell Mulcahy is probably to thank for that. Mulcahy’s career spans from HIGHLANDER to RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION. He’s made a lot of shlocky stuff, especially in recent years, with a long series of mediocre (or worse) direct-to-DVD and TV titles. Here Mulcahy brings some old tricks to the table and makes a potentially horrifying piece of shit into a semi-palatable diversion for the undemanding viewer. It’s still braindead, though.
Looking at Randy Couture’s enormous head over the title on the DVD cover, you might think he has inherited the lead role from The Rock like I did (even though he is decidedly more Caucasian). But Couture is playing the villain, an evil general named Sargon who was responsible for the death of Mathayus’ father years ago. Now Sargon has ascended to the Akkadian throne and has black magic at his disposal. Mathayus sets out with a cute girl (Karen David) and a Greek poet (Simon Quarterman) to find a mystical weapon that he plans to use to kill Sargon and avenge his father.
As wrestlers/fighters turned actors go, at least The Rock had charisma from the word go, even in cheesy vehicles like the first SCORPION KING. Randy Couture... he doesn’t have that. Hell, Triple H in BLADE TRINITY looks like fucking Olivier compared to Couture here. His line delivery is robotic and emotionless, his presence as intimidating as that of a big puppy. Sounds like he was a great fighter though. Michael Copon gets to show off his raised eyebrow ala The Rock, but for the most part seems pretty out of his league.
Quality of special effects varies, but some are actually half decent. There’s a sequence where Mathayus and friends are dropped into a grimy dungeon and must do battle with a pissed-off Minotaur. On a modest scale, the combination of guy-in-suit and CGI touch-ups works well enough, even while most of the scene takes place in enough darkness to obscure any zippers (no surprise, given what the budget must have been). Later on there’s a trek through a maze of vines and forest that doubles as a nightmarish underworld. This sequence has a few imaginative touches and ushers the viewer into a cool fantasy realm. Unfortunately, the movie ends up making the same mistake as THE MUMMY RETURNS by having the villain morph into a computer-generated monstrosity during the climactic fight with the hero. This time, however, the creature seems to have the ability to turn invisible. This provides a convenient solution to the producers’ presumed dilemma, which must have been: Oh my God, we’re out of money. On one hand, I’m glad they didn’t put the CG-rendered head of Randy Couture on the body of animated scorpion. As it is, though, it’s a really lame climax to your film.
Video / Audio
Video Widescreen 1.78:1
Audio English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, with subtitles available in all those languages.
Deleted Scenes There's seven of them, and for the most part they are brief and were cut for a reason.
The Making Of The Scorpion King 2 A good on-set documentary that runs about 15 minutes, featuring interviews with the usual suspects. I have to say I laughed when Michael Copon was trying to sell the virtues of this "real story" about a "real guy" who "finds love and stuff".
Fight Like an Akkadian Stunt coordinator Mo Marais talks a bit about the process of staging the fights in the film.
Becoming Sargon: One on One with Randy Couture Short 4-minute chat with Couture, who retired from the UFC in 2006 and is taking up moe acting. Yikes.
There's a few other short featturettes. One is called Creating a Whole New World, which focuses on sets an production design; there's also On the Set with the Beautiful Leading Ladies and The Visual Effects of The Scorpion King 2.
It's not as bad as you might think, or at least as bad as I was thinking. Fans of this type of thing might find something to like on a rainy day.