The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)
|Genre(s): Action / Adventure|
|Universal || PG13 - 109 minutes - $29.98 || August 19, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-08-09|
Writer(s): Stephen Sommers (characters); Randall McCormick (written by)
Cast: Michael Copon, Karen David, Simon Quarterman, Tom Wu, Andreas Wisniewski, Randy Couture, Natalie Becker, Peter Butler
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I’ll say this about the prequel, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior... it’s not nearly as terrible as I feared. But it’s still not a very good movie either. The Scorpion King 2 is proof Hollywood is desperate to release everything and anything. First, did anyone actually ask to find out more on Mathayus’ origins? Ever heard of a prequel to another prequel?
TSK2 stars Michael Copon, who does kind of resemble The Rock, as Mathayus and his days training to be a Black Scorpion, fearless defenders of the city. When the big bad Black Scorpion, Sergon, a man with magical powers, kills Mathayus’ father, the plot for revenge was set at a young age. Mathayus still joins the Black Scorpions, a ritual and training process that takes 6 years, he returns home to find Sergon is now the king!
After betraying Sergon, Mathayus flees town with the intent on finding a way to defeat his father’s killer. He reluctantly accepts help from his childhood friend and current crush, Layla (Karen David) as well as from a poet named Ari (Simon Quarterman). They set off to recover a mystical sword from the underworld (basically hell) battling various creatures before butting heads with the Queen of the Underworld, Astarte (Natalie Becker). Some chick sword fighting and other “thrilling” scenes later, Mathayus returns to the land of the living to avenge his father’s death.
The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior looks and unfolds like a SciFi TV movie (I half expected commercial breaks from time to time). The visual effects are actually slightly better than the stuff you see on TV, but not that much better. One of the unintentially funny and cheesy moments comes when one character literally turns into a giant scorpion. What was funny was I guess to save on the budget, the scorpion was pretty much invisible (save for quick glimpses so the audience knows what it is). Not that I blame them as when we do get to see it (some oil is thrown to make it visible), it looks so hokey.
Now, there are times hokey is an asset, but when you have absolutely atrocious acting and a story that has been done so many times before, there’s little about this film that I can avoid calling bad.
The most obvious shortcoming is the headline actor on the DVD cover: Randy Couture. Apparently Couture is a UFC superstar and although I had my misgivings about The Rock earlier in his career, at least he has some charisma and, in The Scorpion King, showed some acting talent, but Couture is just plain awful. He has no charisma, even for a bad guy, and while the guy is buff and scary, he delivers his lines as if he were reading them off of cue cards.
I guess the only redeeming aspects are the two females, both of whom are easy on the eyes. Of course, neither Karen David nor Natalie Becker are worth slugging through 110 minutes worth of bad dialogue (written by Randall McCormick, the genius behind Speed 2), terrible acting and lame visual effects.
The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior looks and feels like a direct-to-DVD feature. While I know studios are out to make money, could they at least give the public something they actually want??? Did anyone actually want a prequel to a prequel? Given the last lines in the film, it’s obvious that if this actually sells, Universal will continue to make more of these. What’s the next going to be called? The Scorpion King 3: Burning of the Cue Cards starring Billy Ray Cyrus? I also wouldn’t be surprised if they developed this into a TV series either...
There’s actually quite a bit of material here covering nearly every aspect of the film’s production.
Deleted Scenes (4:41) – Universal has kindly included 7 scenes presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. You can guess if the final scenes are bad, how good could the deleted footage be?
The Making of The Scorpion King 2 (14:13) – A look behind the scenes at various elements of the production from a mini-profile of the director to the hectic schedules the cast had on a short shoot.
Fight Like an Akkadian: Black Scorpion Training Camp (6:09) – A featurette that merely shows the cast behind-the-scenes working on some stunts. I guess I’m kind of thankful there wasn’t an actual training camp.
On Set with the Beautiful Leading Ladies (3:51) - All too short featurette with the ladies of TSK2, Karen David and Natalie Becker. It features footage of the ladies fighting with each other and talking about how cool it was to kick some ass.
Other featurettes include: Creating a Whole New World (8:31), an examination of the set design; The Visual Effects of The Scorpion King 2 (6:53) which delves into how some of the VFX shots were done; and Becoming Sargon: One on One with Randy Couture (4:28), which is merely an interview with the headliner along with sound bites with his co-stars.
Finally, there’s also a gag reel (2:11).
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
This isn’t a bad looking film, but it also doesn’t look that fantastic on a television screen either. The movie is presented in a 1.78 AR and the colors and textures look OK (the filmmakers’ have kept that orange-ish tint I seem to remember from the original).
Universal offers up Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, Spanish and French. The audio isn’t spectacular and for an action flick (even a DTV one); I expected something a little better. But given this is a one-shot flick for me, it’s really not a big deal.
While The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior was thankfully not the crapfest I feared, it still isn’t a very good movie. I give it some slack given a lower, DTV budget, but that still doesn’t excuse downright terrible acting and substandard writing. Yet at the same time, the DVD proclaims one of the reasons to even watch the movie is for the visual effects (a staple in the Mummy franchise), on that front it wasn’t that fantastic either.
I have little doubt you will one day find this at the bottom of a bargain bin, though even then I’d still recommend against having this in your collection. Instead you can wait a few months before it’s shown on the SciFi Channel.