STUDIO: Universal Home Video
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Becoming Sargon – One On One with Randy Couture
• Fight Like An Akkadian: Black Scorpion Training Camp
• The Making Of The Scorpion King 2
• On Set with the Beautiful Leading Ladies
• Creating A Whole New World
• The Visual Effects Of Scorpion King 2

The Pitch

The long awaited sequel to the spinoff from the sequel of the remake of The Mummy.

The Humans

Michael Copon, Karen David, Simon Quarterman, Tom Wu, Andreas Wisniewski, Natalie Becker, and Randy Couture

The Nutshell

A prequel to the first film, Scorpion King 2 tells the story of how a young Mathayus (Coton) goes on a perilous quest to find a weapon with which he can take revenge on the evil warrior/wizard king Sargon (Couture) who murdered his father.

While science and logic had indeed taken the Akkadians out of the dark ages of mysticism, in times of intense strife, prayers and a small sacrifice of virgin blood and corn were still traditionally laid before a bronze statue of Michael Rooker.

The Lowdown

There’s really only two explanations for anyone to expect anything special from a straight-to-DVD sequel to a glorified B-movie in its own right: being really drunk, or really stupid. Yes, The first Scorpion King is a little surprise of a film that’s raised just a wee bit above its low-class swords-and-shields fantasy adventure brethren thanks to a good sense of humor, some decent setpieces (the fight in the sandstorm in particular), and a charmer of a performance from The Artist Formerly Known As The Rock, but Chuck Russell, Stephen Sommers, and Jonathan Hales also had quite a bit to do with how fun that flick turned out to be, and none of those names are involved with this.

What we’ve got is Russell Mulcahy, who hasn’t done anything even remotely enjoyable since The Shadow (although, one of these days, I ought to get really shit-faced and rent Resident Evil: Extinction), directing a script by a guy whose only major screenwriting credit was for Speed 2, headlined by a former Power Ranger, and a former UFC champion.

First bottle’s on me.

“Look, don’t worry about where I got it. Okay, yes, there was a kid in a green outfit, a fairy, and a few dead bodies involved, but that’s all you need to know. Now, I repeat, $20. You got it, or not?”

For the most part, The Scorpion King 2‘s not so much an out and out bad film as it is a completely benign tumor of a film. It’s the kind of film you find on the Sci-Fi Channel when you need something to ignore while you’re doing paperwork, reading the Drudge Report, or masturbating with your own tears. Its best ideas are shamelessly lifted from other sources, its worst ones are not so bad that they earn anything more than apathy and annoyed grunts, and Mulcahy’s just good enough of a director to at least make the movie appease the eye every 15-20 minutes or so. It also only bears a fleeting relationship with its predecessor, so anyone looking for greater insight on the legacy of The Rock’s Mathayus through Michael Coton’s will be left hanging. Of course, anyone who cares that much, you’ve probably written fan fiction filling in all the gaps yourself, with 20 extra pages of scenes where Mathayus makes out with Spike and Aragorn in Narnia or something.

This doesn’t stop the film from trying, though, as we’re saddled with a threadbare story of how Mathayus’ father is murdered by a rival mercenary, Sargon, who ends up killing his way to the throne of the Akkadian kingdom. From that day forward, Mathayus spends his formative years training as a mercenary, for the sole purpose of sending Sargon to the great beyond. Problem is, Sargon, being a bastard, has been playing around with some dark magics, making him pretty much untouchable. Mathayus decides to go to Egypt and then into the underworld itself to get a magic sword to defeat him, and saddled with a hot, spunky, female sidekick, a smart but cowardly Greek poet and scribe, and later, a small multicultural rabble of soldiers trying to find their way home, a grand adventure ensues, complete with fabled monsters, a mysterious world full of things that defy reason, and an evil (and yet, smoking hot) witch goddess.

No matter how many cons you go to, you never forget your first furry.

This would all be well and good in a better writer’s hands. Shows like Hercules and Xena skated for years knowing how to entertain an audience all while laughing with and at the Greek pseudo-mythology that its based around. Randall McCormick is so not that writer. The good people behind Titan A.E. must’ve known this by getting Joss Whedon, Ben Edlund, and John August to give some punch and intelligence to writer Randall McCormick’s rather basic ideas, but here, we’re left with a very sterile pablum of fantasy staples. Mulcahy’s got a thankless job here, trying to inject some life into it all with these limitations, and to his credit, he manages to wring a few drops of cool out of it: a invisible phantom scorpion and a tree made out of the writhing undead come to mind in particular. He does stumble every now and again (attention action directors: the slo-mo-okay-now-really-fast! bullshit from 300 can now stop.), but the script cripples him more than his budget. All he was able to do was make the film pretty, and coax the bare minimum of a decent performance out of most of his actors. As such, I can neither complain about or praise the vast majority of it all.

Actually, that’s a lie. Some measure of praise must be heaped upon martial artist Tom Wu, playing a Chinese prisoner who joins Mathayus on his journey. He doesn’t speak a word of English in the film, but gives a great, humorous, physical performance with very little. He’s a hero in the film’s climax (one of the few moments of genuine tension in the film, I might add, where Sargon threatens to burn an entire stadium of people alive), and the moment is effective almost due entirely to his viewpoint of the whole situation.

Conversely, we’ve got Randy Couture. His presence as the headliner for the film is probably to fill the hole of a grappler-turned-actor The Rock left behind, but as any wrestling fan could tell you, there’s an extremely small number of guys who are worthy of that transition, let alone find a successful medium to show off their talents. I’ll admit to not having seen the guy do anything except fight once or twice, but let’s not beat around the bush: Couture has the range of a baked potato. He delivers his lines in the kind of monotone you’d probably get if you fed Ben Stein horse steroids. Moreover, the film just barely takes advantage of his background as a fighter, something the first Scorpion King was quick to do with The Rock. Ultimately, you could’ve replaced him with a really angry donkey, and gotten much of the same results. If there are people who were really hoping with all their hearts this would be his breakout role, think again. Also, have yourself sterilized.

I don’t think anyone has any illusions about the movie, however. We know it’s a quick buck for Universal to cash in on their new Mummy flick, and it’s about as useful and inspired as a new action figure in that regard. It probably helped a bunch of people pay the rent and go grocery shopping this month. Good for them. Bad for us.

Still, when it hits the Sci-Fi Channel in a few months….

Paparazzi would later report that Bob had fallen down dead in a London sewer outside Miss Winehouse’s apartment, his last words, according to witnesses:  “The condoms! They do nothing!”

The Package

I would say something about the fact that Hardcore Holly’s old entrance theme is used in the main menus, but the sooner I can put my WWE watching days in the past where they belong, the better. So let’s just look at the bonuses.

There’s quite a bit of EPK fluff and filler here. The deleted scenes add nothing, the gag reel, which is usually one of my favorite features in any film, is weak. Becoming Sargon, On Set With The Beautiful Ladies, and Black Scorpion training camp really all amount to people reiterating over and over again how hard the cast and crew worked on the film without actually saying anything substantial about the production. The Making Of, Set Design, and F/X featurettes, however, pick up their slack, actually showing us that effort instead of telling. It’s always strangely inspiring watching the behind-the-scenes stuff on a film like this, seeing how much energy people bring to this sort of project, and how much fun they’re having despite the limitations of time and budget, and both those factors are on full display there. Russell Mulcahy’s a driving force here, and seeing which ideas were his, what he tweaked here and there, and how he inspires the film’s best moments make all three of those featurettes worth their inclusion. Not worth buying the film for, but, it’s pretty sweet icing on a fairly crappy cake.

The very definition of a shit-eating grin.

4.5 out of 10