The Scorpion King

PLOT:

Mathayus (Dwayne Johnson), the last true Akkadian mercenary, along with his half-brother and friend, is hired to kill a sorcerer, whose prophetic powers allow the vicious Memnon (Steven Brand) to rule his empire with an iron fist. He sneaks into Memnon’s camp and finds his way to the sorcerer’s tent, where he discovers that Memnon’s sorcerer is actually a beautiful sorceress called Cassandra (Kelly Hu). He is discovered and eventually caught, and his half-brother and friend are killed. Before Memnon can kill Mathayus, Cassandra protests, saying it wouldn’t be wise because the gods favor him and to kill him would bring misfortune. Unable to kill Mathayus himself, Memnon has him buried to his neck in sand for fire ants to come eat his head. With the help of the horse thief Arpid (Grant Heslov), he manages to escape. Now free again, Mathayus decides to avenge his brothers and kill Memnon.

At Memnon’s palace, Cassandra tells Memnon that his armies will conquer the west and that Queen Isis (Sherri Howard) and her soldiers will scatter to the four winds. Memnon then gives orders to his men to have his soldiers prepare for the final campaign. When Cassandra tells Memnon that rivers of blood will never bring peace, Memnon responds that they can bring obedience and that when he becomes the King of Legends, Cassandra will take her place beside him as his queen. Cassandra tells him that if she becomes his lover, she will lose her prophetic sight, but Memnon says that once he destroys all his enemies, he will no longer need her gift of sight.

Mathayus gets into Gomorrah with the help of Arpid and a thieving little boy, Mathayus sneaks into Memnon’s castle. He attempts to kill Memnon with his arrows, but when the boy who helped him gets caught and charged with stealing, Mathayus saves the boy by shooting the axe out of Tekmet’s hands as he was about to cut the boy’s hands off. This exposes him, and Mathayus is forced to retreat. After evading the guards, he literally falls into Cassandra’s bath house and kidnaps her by going through its drain, Cassandra emerging from a fountain in the city, naked. Mathayus manages to wrap her up and get her into another outfit. He reveals that while he was hired to kill her, he thinks she can be more useful as bait to catch Memnon. The pair escape the city and meet up with Arpid and Mathayus’s camel, heading out to the Valley of the Dead. Later that night, Cassandra tries to escape only to be tripped by a rope that is tied from her ankle to Mathayus. During their struggle, Cassandra tells Mathayus that she’s not planning on returning to Memnon since he had her since she was a child. Mathayus frees her, but warns her that as long as she remains with him, she will be protected against even more dangers.

The next day, in the Valley of the Dead, Mathayus spots a small group of Memnon’s soldiers looking for them, led by Memnon’s right-hand man, Thorak (Ralf Moeller). Mathayus hides Arpid and Cassandra under a blanket, and rides off to challenge the soldiers under cover of a sandstorm. Mathayus brings down all of the soldiers until Thorak is apparently the only one left. After a brief struggle, Mathayus impales Thorak in the stomach, but Thorak uses his last moments to use his secret weapon: An arrow drenched in scorpion venom, which he uses to stab Mathayus in the leg before dying. The sandstorm passes, and Arpid and Cassandra find Mathayus half-dead from the poison. That night, Cassandra manages to heal him with her powers, despite the risk it poses to her own life, and says from then on Mathayus will have the blood of scorpions in him – hence the name “Scorpion King.” Mathayus wonders why she would help him, and Cassandra explains that she believes he can save the people and free them from Memnon’s tyranny.

Deeper in the desert, the trio catch up with Philos (Bernard Hill), Memnon’s court magician (whom Mathayus had earlier encountered in Gomorrah), after he managed to escape from the city. He has been working in the desert, where he has perfected his explosive powder. Overjoyed to see Cassandra safe, Philos joins forces with Mathayus.

As their journey continues, they meet up with Balthazar (Michael Clarke Duncan), the leader of Memnon’s enemies, and the two join forces, after a very intense battle between Mathayus and Balthazar in which they eventually realize they are on the same side. During a celebration at the camp of Balthazar’s people, Cassandra has a vision of Memnon destroying the people and killing Mathayus. But Mathayus is undeterred, saying that he will kill Memnon. After an intimate night with Mathayus, Cassandra loses her powers of sight simultaneous with her virginity. Now powerless, Cassandra returns to Memnon to keep him from attacking the camp.

Mathayus and Balthazar go after her. A huge battle occurs between Memnon and his armies, and Mathayus and Balthazar and his people. Mathayus is shot by an arrow but recovers, and uses the same arrow to kill Memnon. The battle ends in victory for Balthazar and his people. Mathayus ascends to the throne as king, with Cassandra by his side as queen. She has not lost her powers of sight, that pretense was employed to keep Memnon from taking advantage of her. She tells him that his rule will be peaceful and prosperous, but no kingdom lasts forever. Mathayus responds that the kingdom will make its own destiny.

REVIEW:

 This is the film that really thrust The Rock into Hollywood stardom and out of the WWE ring. If you’re going to make a jump like that, then what better way to do it than with a big budget action flick like The Scorpion King?

The best thing about this film, other than the action, si that it takes a briefly mention character in the second Mummy movie, and gives him an entire backstory. I was surprised to find out that it is debated about whether there is a real Scorpion King.

This is an action flick, of that there is no doubt, but in a manner similar to the franchise it spun off from, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I know there are many out there who think this should have been some blood thirsty, gorefest action flick, but its good to get a break from those and see one of these fun flicks.

As good as the Rock is in his role, Michael Clarke Duncan and Kelly Hu may very well upstage him in their respective roles. Not because they’re specifically better, but rather the fact that their characters help the film move along.

Memnon is a decent villain, but doesn’t look like one, and when all is said and done just isn’t very convincing, but I can’t tell you why.

If you’re a fan of The Mummy franchise, then you should check out The Scorpion King. This is one of the few actin flicks that tells a good story without relying too heavily on the effects, but rather the story. Sure, there are some effects, but they don’t make the film, unlike many films these days. I highly recommend this to any and everyone.

4 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “The Scorpion King”

  1. […] The Scorpion King may have been the film that started action career of The Rock, but it was The Rundown that really laid the foundation for him as a movie star that has been doing nothing but getting brighter and brighter (even when he was doing those family movies like The Game Plan). For some reason, though, this is one of those films that seems to be forgotten, though. […]

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