After only amassing a moderate box office success with 2002’s “The Scorpion King” starring former wrestling superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Universal Pictures apparently put on hold any potential sequels to the prequel (that sounded funny… oh well) of their popular “The Mummy” series. In 2008, Universal dusted off the character of the Scorpion King for another shot at movie audiences; however, this effort would not star The Rock, as it was to be a prequel (a decision that I believe was prompted by The Rock most likely rejecting the notion of starring in another ‘Scorpion King’ movie), and it would also skip any kind of theatrical release, going directly to DVD. So, let me think about this for a second, the star of the original movie most likely rejected the idea of reprising his role for a sequel, potentially causing the shift from sequel to prequel, then the movie skips theaters altogether and goes directly to DVD, finally getting released around the same time as another ‘Mummy’ movie was hitting theaters. Does anyone else besides me believe that this spelled potential disaster for this second entry in the inferior spin-off series to “The Mummy”? Let’s have a show of hands… Yeah, that’s what I thought, pretty much everyone sees this movie as nothing more than a hack job primarily made for cashing in on the recently released “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”.
“The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” centers on a young Mathayus (Michael Copon) as he begins learning the ways of an assassin in order to better serve his king. However, when a warrior named Sargon (Randy Couture) murders Mathayus’ father, Mathayus forgoes his oath of honor to begin a quest for vengeance against the evil Sargon and all those that side with him.
Wow, I don’t know if I can think of a time when the description on the back of a DVD could have been further from the truth. The description touted this action/adventure prequel as “…a heroic adventure filled with heart-stopping action and thrilling visual effects!” Well, I’m not sure what movie the marketing people that came up with that load of bull were watching, but it sure wasn’t “The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior”, I can tell you that right now. For a movie with supposedly “heart-stopping action”, I was fairly bored a good majority of the time, and as for the “thrilling visual effects” they were more like B-movie effects or worse. In fact, I think that the Sci-Fi channel original movies have better effects than what was employed here.
It’s also a pity to note that director Russell Mulcahy comes fresh off of helming the successful third entry, “Resident Evil: Extinction”, in the popular zombie franchise to directing this Direct-to-DVD piece of garbage. Now, I’m not trying to insinuate that I feel like Russell is an A-list director at all; in fact, I don’t think he will ever compare to the likes of Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorcese, but regardless of that, he still is a decent enough Hollywood director that has had his fair share of successes that he deserved better than to be directing this movie. If Russell chose this as his next movie of his own free will then that’s one thing, I personally would be shocked if that were the case, and would have to seriously question the judgment of a person who would willingly subject themselves to the kind of criticism this movie will draw from critics and movie fans alike. It is possible that whoever convinced Russell Mulcahy to direct this movie made the concept sound a heck of a lot better than the end result ever could hope to be, and if so, then kudos to whoever did the selling, because whatever you said worked and you managed to get a decent Hollywood director to really demean himself by working on a project as pathetic as this one.
The cast for this movie was comprised of relative newcomers to the industry, several of them did have previous movie experience, but not much and what little they had wasn’t all that impressive to be worth mentioning. For instance, the actual star of the movie (even though he doesn’t get top-billing), Michael Copon, his biggest claim to movie fame was the third installment in the ‘Bring It On’ franchise (a franchise that apparently will not go away) with “Bring It On: In It to Win It”. I must point out that Michael was a good choice for the role because he does appear to be a decent enough resemblance to The Rock to pass off as a believable younger version of the first film’s star. Getting top-billing for this movie, even though he only appears in maybe half of the movie, is UFC star Randy Couture. Days before watching this movie, I had seen Randy in David Mamet’s “Redbelt” where he played a commentator for a fighting organization similar to UFC, and in that movie I thought that Randy showed some real potential to be a good actor; however, whatever potential I thought he had, was completely squandered by the time I saw his performance in this movie. Randy apparently didn’t know how to effectively play the villainous role whatsoever, because there’s nary a scene in which he isn’t snarling or saying his lines in a menacing way, even if the line doesn’t warrant that type of reading. With such a laughable performance as the one in this movie, I now feel that Randy has little to no hope for a future in Hollywood films, at least from my humble perspective.
“The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” has got to be one of the most blatant, and poorly executed, attempts at cashing in on a theatrical release that I have seen go directly to DVD in a long time. The writing is horrible, the acting is sub-par at best, and the visual effects are possibly worse than an episode of The Power Rangers on TV. There is nothing much to praise with this prequel other than these two points; 1) Michael Copon was a good casting choice and did an alright job with the role, and 2) the movie does eventually end after an overly bloated, almost two hour long running time; so that those who were like me, and suffered through every moment of this crap, can eventually begin to work on putting the experience out of their minds. Perhaps some therapy could help, who knows.
“The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” is rated PG-13 for violence and sensuality.