The Scorpion King (2002)
Director: Chuck Russell
Michael Clarke Duncan/Balthazar
The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson aka Mathayus is muscled beyond belief, has a big sword (phallic?) and kicks lots of ass. There’s not much more to it than that.
“Uninspired” is the first word that popped in my melon when "The Scorpion King" ended. If you’ve seen the Conan movies (which this flick rips off constantly), the Hercules TV show or even Rambo 3, then you’ve seen all there is to see about this bad boy. All of the sword and sorcery clichés are covered here and then some: Funny sidekick… CHECK! Little brat who helps our hero…CHECK! Beautiful chick that starts off not digging our main man but quickly falls under the spell of his bulging nipples…CHECK! The “you killed my brother and now I want revenge" motive…CHECK! No generic rock is left unturned.
The film moves at an even pace (and is very short, I’d say 85 minutes) and the excitement factor pretty much stays on the same level the whole way through, up until the final fisticuffs where it bumps it up slightly (fun times). Now I wasn’t expecting a substantial storyline coming into this movie, but I did want some groovy balls-to-the-walls fight sequences. Did I get them? Well...yes and no. The Rock does pound lots of ass (that didn’t sound right), his pecks are oiled, his sword is bigger than my leg and the extras hit the floor relentlessly. HURRAY! That does count for something. Wrestling fans will also be happy to know that WWF boy, bodyslams one poor sucker and even gives “the people’s eyebrow” look (I think that’s what it’s called) at a very female-intensive moment in the film.
Now the macho kid in me kinda had fun watching ROCK-boy stalk his prey in a dark cave (Rambo 3, anyone?), off others with his bow and arrow (more Rambo 3 here) and put to rest all kinds of baddies with his massive blade, but there was one snag in the mayhem, one missing key ingredient in the cheese burger: THE BLOOD-LETTING. This flick is too dry yo! The nasty stuff mostly takes place off-screen and call me a garden hose but that makes a HUGE difference (especially since the story is so paper thin)! Where’s my spurting blood? My flying severed head? My cut off limbs? Isn’t this a no-holds barred sword shindig? At all! I’ve seen more violence in "Beverly Hills 90210" (that Brenda chick was scary) and that kind of lowered the impact of it all for me. Tag to that a bland main villain (you’re the HEAVY, have fun with the part dude!) and jokes that works half the time and you get an action bonanza that’s just too soft around the edges to fully satisfy.
Now that I think about it, I feel that this flick is aimed more at kids than young adults. We have an overly simplified storyline (so the kids don’t get bored), clichés up the wazoo (kids haven’t seen Conan so they don’t know what "unoriginal" means), childish humor (kids like that…I think), squeaky-clean violence (don’t want to make the kiddies cry), a very short running time (kids go to bed early) and no sex whatsoever (kids can’t watch sex, it's bad). Maybe your little brother/sister will dig this more than you. I, for one, am still waiting to find out WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKING!
Not much, we get one severed head (after the fact) and some bloodless sword fighting. A disappointment.
I dig Dwayne Johnson (Mathayus). He’s photogenic, charismatic and knows how to kick that bootie. His dialogue delivery isn’t always on the mark, but overall...he’s credible in the role. Steven Brand (Memnon) bored me as the bad guy. He’s just so plain. Kelly Hu (Cassandra) looks great in every form of undress and her acting is aight. Michael Clarke Duncan (Balthazar) does what he has to do, not much acting required here. Grant Heslov (Comic Sidekick) works half the time as the comic relief. Peter Facinelli (Takmet) doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing in this film. Funny, because I didn’t know either.
T & A
Kelly Hu (Cassandra) goes nude but her long hair hides her plump assets. She’s still fun to gawk at though. Dwayne Johnson is pumped, shirtless and ready to make the ladies go ape-shit. Enjoy gals! Oh and if Michael Clarke Duncan shirtless cranks your dial…enjoy.
Chuck Russell keeps it simple most of the time but adds the occasional slow motion and jerky shot in there for good measure. Adequate, if not pedestrian.
We get some heavy guitar stuff and a more classic score. Fitting.
I’m not a wrestling buff and I assume that all the big ROCK fans of the world will get more out of this than I did. I was slightly entertained and I do dig The Rock but call me old school: I’d rather revisit my used up VHS of "Conan The Barbarian" than see The Scorpion King again. I need plasma with my swordplay; it’s just a damn necessity, especially when the storyline ain't all that. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO HOLD ON TO HERE? COME ON! If you have to see this one, check it out on tape, but if you don’t care for The Rock at all…. don’t even bother. Having said that, I for one hope Dwayne Barry continues his acting career; I’d love to see him in a tough-as-nails urban action film or something. He’s got what it takes to be an action star: looks, charisma and muscles but Scorpion King is beneath him. WILL SOMEBODY GIVE THIS DUDE A WORTHY PROJECT ALREADY!!
In this corner, The Rock: born on May 2, 1972, standing 6"5 tall, married to Dany Gracias and proud owner of one kid.