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The Scorpion King (2002)

Directed by Chuck Russell

The Scorpion King -- poster

A funny thing happened when I went to see "The Scorpion King." During the trailers, a fellow moviegoer bitterly exclaimed, "Stupid!" as each one ended. The trailers were for Adam Sandler's latest flick, "Mr. Deeds" (co-starring master-thief Winona Ryder), "Reign of Fire" (about dragons, I guess), "Eight Legged Freaks" (about giant spiders, I think), and some "Austin Power's" rip-off which sends up blaxploitation heroes from the 1970's. "Stupid... FUCKIN' STUPID!" he went off immediately at the end of each trailer, like he couldn't believe what he was seeing. Did he know that he was in a theater that was going to show a movie starring The Rock in a mere matter of minutes? I felt like turning around and shouting, "RUN!"

Calling "The Scorpion King" dumb is like calling water wet. With that in mind, let's just say that "The Scorpion King" is dumb. There it is. Are you happy now? Anyway, the working title was "The Mummy 3" but can be more accurately described as a spin-off of "The Mummy Returns" in which The Rock had a small part as the evil reincarnation of a long dead pharaoh known as "The Scorpion King". This time out, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a hero in the "Conan the Barbarian" mold. Dwayne has an advantage over Schwarzenegger, Van Damme or Seagal -- he can actually put two words together but his acting presence is pure WWF. However, the dumb plot and silly lines don't require anything more. For instance, how can you deliver a line like "Live free. Die well!" without sounding like an idiot, unless that's the point. Hey, even Michael Clarke Duncan can't say this stuff without looking totally silly. Wasn't this guy nominated for an academy award once upon a time?

The Scorpion King -- The Rock

The story, such as it is, goes like this. An evil tyrant, Steven Brand (I guess Stephen Dorff was busy) is enslaving the known world by using the fortune-telling skills of a sorceress (Kelly Hu) who he is keeping prisoner (kinda like Yaphet Kotto/Solitaire relationship in "Live and Let Die"). The Rock and his brother (don't know the actor's name) are hired as assassins to kill the despot by the few remaining rebels hiding out in the desert. The assassins are betrayed and The Rock's brother is killed but The Rock escapes, taking the sorceress with him as he tries to figure out how to exact vengeance and return justice to Mesopotamia... or wherever.

Scorpion King (2002) -- Kelly Hu

Director Chuck Russell (The Mask, The Blob) puts in a minimum amount of effort and the result is a well paced but standard actioner. There are fun moments here and there but the magic in the storytelling is missing. It seems like most of the magic in this production was expended on the imaginative ways that little bits of cheesecloth, or hair, were strategically glued to Kelly Hu's body. Her outfits were reminiscent of the Princess Leia "Jabba the Hut's slave-girl attire" but with a little less coverage. For this alone, "The Scorpion King" scores a $5.00 rating from "HO." Basically, I enjoyed sitting for 90 minutes staring like a mental patient at a smokin' hot chick. You get your entertainment where you can. If you enjoy films that are on par with nonsense like "Blade" then there's a decent chance you'll enjoy this B movie monstrosity. I know I did. I'm not proud of it, but it's the truth. -- Rating: $5.50

Tom Graney -- copyright Hollywood Outsider 2002

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