The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)

I Will Rise Again, Like a Bad Idea

I’m extremely apprehensive going into this movie.  Generally speaking, sequels that get worse do so exponentially as the movies go along.  The Scorpion King was solid, number two was awful, so what could number three possibly be?  It doesn’t really matter, does it?  It’s been requested!  Eric wanted this movie reviewed, so I’m gonna do it!  Today’s movie has some big names in it, but ones that I have seen both in great movies and in complete shit.  It also has a WWE wrestler and a MMA fighter in it.  Now I’m nervous again.  Today’s movie is The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, written by Brendan Cowles, Shane Kuhn, and Randall McCormick, directed by Roel Reine, and starring Victor Webster, Bostin Christopher, Billy Zane, Krystal Vee, Ron Perlman, Temuera Morrison, Selina Lo, Dave Batista, and Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.

Mathayus (Victor Webster) is having a hard time dealing with the death of his wife, Cassandra (Kelly Hu), and also dealing with being played by three different people.  He gets through his days as a mercenary now.  Egypt is now divided into three kingdoms, ruled by Horus (Ron Perlman), Talus (Billy Zane), and Ramusan (Temuera Morrison).  Talus is looking to steal the Book of the Dead from Ramusan, and Horus wants to stop him from doing that.  Horus hires Mathayus and sticks him with a fat guy named Olaf (Bostin Christopher), just in case there was ever a time when people weren’t saying things.  They get to Ramusan and manage to stop a raid from Talus.  As payment, Ramusan offers Mathayus his daughter, Silda (Krystal Vee), to marry, but Mathayus must first rescue her.  In an attempt to rescue her, they are beaten to the punch by some ninja looking dudes that take Silda to the camp of Rebel leader, Cobra.  But they soon find that Cobra is actually just Silda, and she enlists their help in stopping Talus.  Meanwhile, Talus takes over Ramusan’s palace and retrieves the Book of the Dead, using it to summon three ghost warriors, Tsukai (Selina Lo), Agromael (Dave Batista), and Zulu Kondo (Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson).  Mathayus, Olaf, and Silda must work together to overcome Talus, his army, and his three mystical warriors to stop his campaign to rule all of Egypt.

Your plan backfired, Eric!  This movie wasn’t that bad.  Should you watch it?  Nah.  But after watching SK2, this one was actually a step up.  But, since I only watched SK2 in order to watch this movie, I guess you still did your damage.  The story of this movie is slightly worse than The Scorpion King, but it’s hindered a little bit by lack of fun.  In this movie’s case, it’s kind of intentional.  Mathayus is so mopey for the first 2/3 of the movie because of his loss of Cassandra and his kingdom that he’s got no time to be fun.  Around the end of the movie, it gets slightly more fun.  There are, of course, lots of things done in the writing that make no sense.  At one point, Mathayus and Olaf wake up to find out they are completely surrounded by tigers.  Their solution?  Walk away.  This could have been something cool.  Hell, it could have been SOMETHING.  Instead, it just served no purpose whatsoever in the movie.  The dialogue, on the other hand, is probably the worst that’s it’s been in this series so far.  Some of the regular exposition is fine, but their little “witty comments” are almost all loses.  When Mathayus and Olaf get robbed in the beginning and are beating up the robbers, he actually throws out “Crime doesn’t pay.”  When one of them falls in the fire and is running while on fire, he says “I’ll take mine rare.”  When sparring with Mathayus, Silda kicks him in the stomach and says “I take your breath away.”  And finally, when Talus is reaching his inevitable end, he claims “I will rise again, like a bad idea.”  Speaking of bad ideas: all of those lines.  And more, I’m sure.  The look of the film has it’s ups and downs.  For some ups: no shitty CG creatures.  They probably couldn’t afford good CG for this movie and so they didn’t do any.  They had some great settings, some impressive animals in the movie, decent enough fights, and the effects on the three ghost warriors were pretty cool.  They had another nondescript sword, but it was more tolerable because it wasn’t some super fancy mystical sword.  But it was a little tiny and not impressive.  Ladies?  There was also a scene where the ninjas attacked Olaf and Mathayus by jumping out of the water, and that looked pretty cool.  The problem was that they jumped out of the water that Olaf was peeing in a moment before, so dude basically just got piss all over him.  But some parts of the movie were filmed with something that seemed to be a handheld camera.  Handheld camera footage has it’s place, mainly in found footage type movies.  In most other movies, it’s just nauseating.  We’re trying to watch a fight, get a cameraman without Parkinson’s!

The performances are mostly okay in this movie.  Victor Webster wasn’t nearly as fun as The Rock was, but he was pretty good.  He was mostly brooding with a little bit of snark to him now and then, but all in all he was okay.  Krystal Vee was good looking, but delivered dialogue in a very wooden way a couple of times.  Billy Zane never really seemed like he was taking this gig seriously, acting pretty hammed up for most of his time, but he did have some parts where he was pretty good.  But when you pull off someone’s ear and start talking into it, I stop taking you seriously.  Ron Perlman and Temuera Morrison weren’t in the movie very long, but they performed their parts adequately.  Bostin Christopher, however, was in the movie a lot, and really worked on my nerves.  Not only was he a fat white guy that I imagine would get winded swinging a sword, but he also would not shut up.  He just kept talking and talking and not saying anything remotely interesting or necessary.  I know the Scorpion King movies have gotten into the habit of having someone around as “comic relief”, but you also have to make them funny.  Here’s the biggest shock of the movie: Kimbo Slice was actually good.  I don’t get it either!  You can kind of understand it from a WWE person like the Rock because they have to do a lot of talking at the camera, but from a MMA guy?  He had very little dialogue, but he had a great look for his part in the movie and I liked everything he did in the movie.  Add in some fiery red eyes and a flaming hammer and it works.  Speaking of WWE people, I was not impressed with Dave Batista.  From what I’ve seen of him in the WWE, he doesn’t do a lot of talking anyway, and he keeps that up here, but he didn’t work for me.  But he was better than Selina Lo.  She was really good looking, but very stiff in her delivery and I was thrown off by the fact that she would randomly scream in battle, but not when actually fighting people.  You can get by that by muting whenever she’s on screen.  Then it’s all good.

The Scorpion King 3 is far superior to The Scorpion King 2, but sadly both pale in comparison to the first movie.  The story is better, the dialogue is mostly awful, the performances are good enough, but some of the fights are good if you don’t get sick watching the shitty hand camera stuff.  But, even though this movie is better than SK2, you don’t need to watch it.  I don’t know why you would consider it, but you can stop it now.  You’re all set.  The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption gets “I’ll take mine rare” out of “I take your breath away.”

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The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)

Scratch Any Hero, and You Will Find a Monster Lurking Inside

Continuing onward with the Scorpion King trilogy, but starting with the ones that may lead to my untimely death.  Today’s movie is mainly serving to connect the movie that I was happy to watch (The Scorpion King) with the movie I am required to watch because my friend Eric requested it.  I never saw this movie before today because I tended to make good decisions for my entertainment before I started doing reviews.  I knew it existed, I just didn’t want to see it.  Was I right to assume this, or will I be tremendously surprised by the movie?  We shall see as I review The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, written by Randall McCormick, directed by Russell Mulcahy, and starring Michael Copon, Randy Couture, Karen Shenaz David, Simon Quarterman, Natalie Becker, Tom Wu, and Andreas Wisniewski.

The Black Scorpions are a group of elite Akkadian warriors lead by Sargon (Randy Couture), a powerful warrior and magician.  After the suspicious death of his father, Mathayus (Michael Copon) joins the Black Scorpions for 6 years of training.  Upon his return, he runs afoul of the newly appointed king of Akkad, Sargon, by refusing to kill his old friend Noah.  Sargon kills Noah anyway, and Mathayus goes to find a weapon powerful enough to defeat Sargon, getting joined by his childhood friend, Layla (Karen Shenaz David).  They also meet up with a Greek poet, Ari (Simon Quarterman), who tells them of a weapon called the Sword of Damocles that can accomplish this task.  They go to Greece and face a Minotaur, which causes other prisoners to join them.  They also save the life of a man named Fung (Tom Wu), who follows them simply to make sure the audience does not go long without being annoyed by something.  In the Underworld, they face the goddess Astarte (Natalie Becker), who tries to kill Mathayus and Layla while Ari and Fung find the sword.  They get it and escape.  Astarte goes to her servant, Sargon, and tells him to kill everyone, including Mathayus.  Our group return to Akkad to find that everyone has been lured into the arena to be killed in elaborate fashion.  Fung and Layla stop them from getting killed while Mathayus and Ari go to fight Sargon.  We think Ari betrays Mathayus, having been paid by Sargon, but then Ari double betrays Sargon and helps Mathayus.  Mathayus kills Sargon, Layla says she’s in love with Mathayus, Mathayus loves battle more and leaves.  The end.

This movie kind of sucked out loud.  Take the story and dialogue of The Scorpion King, make it worse and stupider, and remove all signs of the fun that made The Scorpion King work in spite of the writing, and you have this movie.  It was boring and predictable, the fight scenes were not interesting, and the dialogue ranged from mediocre to awful.  The story just starts in Akkad, makes a really long round trip where apparently Akkad is standing relatively still and nothing interesting is happening for us to check back in on, and then just ends ups back in Akkad.  I was so disinterested with the story that my mind kept focusing on what I saw to be a continuity error about Mathayus having a scorpion tattoo that he didn’t have in The Scorpion King or The Mummy movie.  Thankfully, they did answer this question by having him burn it off with a sword that was hot for no reason, so I didn’t have to wonder anymore.  The decision to make Ari betray Mathayus was completely ill-conceived because it happens and then turns him back into a good guy all within the span of about three minutes.  Had we been given an idea that he was a bad guy from the time we met him, we would be more happy to see him turn good at the end.  The poor state of the dialogue is in matching to the story, being a few failed attempts at witty one-liners or just exposition.  The narrator goes on far too long into the movie.  You’re only necessary to give us backstory, we don’t need you to tell us what we’re watching.  And as for the “witty one-liners”, there’s one part where Astarte tells Layla that she’ll rip her face off and Layla says “Good, then I won’t have to look at you.”  Good comeback.  Though to a lesser degree, The Scorpion King suffered some of the same problems, but the fun of the movie and the cool fight scenes elevated it.  This movie decides instead to have uninteresting fights, spread far between, and amp that shit up by using slow-mo to accentuate moves that aren’t that impressive.

As bad as those things are in this movie, the graphics of this movie are much worse.  Not always, the sets are all pretty well done.  The Underworld actually achieved a slim level of creepiness with it’s set pieces, and they all seemed to have been crafted very well.  The Rube Goldberg machine that they set to kill all of the Akkadians was pretty interesting, but only assuming you ignore the fact that it was an over complicated way of killing a group of people that were trapped in an arena surrounded by archers.  It still looked good, though.  Everything else was the problem.  If you make it long enough into this movie to see it, the pinnacle of it’s awfulness is the Minotaur.  It was the worst piece of computer animation I can recall seeing recently.  They seemed at least partially aware of it and tried to mask it with shaky camera, or not use it at all and use a prop head next to the camera, but when I saw that animation again I was just bummed out by how bad it looked.  They must’ve figured out that their computer animators only did this as a hobby, because the scorpion Mathayus fights at the end of the movie is mostly invisible.  Problematically, they then decided that they should just have pots fall over a lot to show that it was still there.  But they end it by having Mathayus throw some oil on it so that he can see it again, and then I was bummed out again.  Also, to show that he’s been imbued with Astarte’s power, a drop of her blood lands on Randy Couture’s head and makes a Scorpion, but it actually just looks more like a bad, tattoo comb-over.  But the thing that still gets me is the thing you can see to the right of this paragraph, and that’s the Sword of Damocles.  Would you look at that thing?!  It’s so nondescript that it seems like a placeholder for the real weapon that they’ll make later.  I could make that thing with some cardboard and spray paint!  Shouldn’t mythical weapons have some cool designs on them and not just be a boring hunk of metal with a shiny, sharp thing coming out of one end?  Looking at it’s making me mad.  I’m switching paragraphs.

The acting was generally pretty bad.  Michael Copon had a good look to him, and performed at least adequately, but it’s a stretch of credulity to try to have me believe this skinny guy is going to one day be The Rock.  Also, he lacked the Rock’s charm and presence, so that’s another negative.  Surprisingly, Randy Couture isn’t a good actor.  It’s not really his fault; the casting people shouldn’t have put him in such a big part of a movie anyway.  He did fine in the background of the Expendables, but he needs a little more practice before headlining.  He did really good in the fight scenes, though.  That’s not really a shocker, I suppose.  Karen David was ignorable for her performance, but she was at least pretty good looking.  Her character, however, was the most irritating thing in this movie for me.  I started thinking about it in the first fight she has with Astarte.  Almost every word out of her mouth up to that point is about how she can fight as good as any man.  She then gets into an unimpressive girl fight with Astarte, lord of the Underworld, which starts with “You’re ugly and old!”, “Well you can’t seduce guys!”, and “Well your weave is false!”  Okay, I added that last one.  Inevitably, she loses and must be rescued by Mathayus.  If you weren’t yet convinced that the writers don’t think much of women, by the end of the movie she seems to have not taken to killing and has decided she would rather be Mathayus’ housewife, but he wants to adventure on.  I guess the writers really put her in her place … which is barefoot and pregnant in front of the stove, if the writers had their way.  As for Natalie Becker, she wasn’t a good female character either.  I’ve seen movies where good looking chicks can be intimidating villainesses, but I didn’t see one today.  She was mainly just hamming it up, but was pretty weak and ineffectual in combat.  She was losing to a housewife until she decided to use magic.  SHE’S SUPPOSED TO BE A GODDESS!!

This movie sucks.  Don’t watch it.  Unfortunately for me, I’m moving on to part 3, and this movie has made me pretty nervous about it.  Weak story, lame dialogue, mediocre performances, and atrocious graphics.  But the sets were nice.  And the ladies were pretty.  I guess that’s all I can say about that.  You COULD stream this right now off of Netflix, but why would you?  The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior gets “Please tear my face off so I won’t have to look at you” out of “I fight for what you’ve corrupted.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!