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  Directed by
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • 4 Teaser trailer
  • Animated menus
  • DTS trailer
The Scorpion King (Rental)
Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 88 mins . M15+ . PAL


When your parents decide to lumber you with a name like Dwayne, you’re instantly offered two choices. You can sit back and take the inevitable stick for it for the duration of your natural life, or you can work really hard, make yourself super-duper-buff, become a WWE Wrestling superhero and basically kick sand in the face of anybody who’s downright stupid enough to pick on your name. Oh, calling yourself “The Rock” will probably help quite a bit, too.

And so we come to The Scorpion King, The Rock’s first starring role, in what is essentially a prequel to that in which he made his big screen debut, the rather wonderful The Mummy Returns. With a lead actor whose range of emotions essentially mirrors that of the inanimate object he’s named after, the right tack has been taken by serving up what is basically a rollercoaster ride of action sequences strung together by the barest minimum of plot.


Before the time of the pyramids, Mathayus (Dwayne, erm, sorry – Mr Rock) is one of the last of the proud race of renowned assassins, the Akkadians. With horde’s law dictating that the first person to essentially wipe out everybody else in existence shall become king, master swordsman and all round evil dude Memnon (Steven Brand) has wreaked mass slaughter in his quest for the crown – armed with a secret weapon to help him in the form of his trusty sorcerer. The last of the free tribes get together for a powwow and enlist the services of Mathayus to bring down Memnon, by killing said sorcerer. Our hero duly trundles off on his mission, but doesn’t count on said sorcerer actually being a rather shapely sorceress, nor on the fact that she may be of more use to him (in a number of ways) alive rather than all corpsed up.

Add to the mix a simpering sidekick who gets to come along for the ride in Arpid (Grant Heslov doing a fabulous impersonation of Mustafa from the Austin Powers flicks), a very big dude who doesn’t much like Mathayus but will inevitably end up buddying up with him in Balthazor (Michael Clarke Duncan), all manner of exotic animals such as tigers, elephants, camels and horrible, icky snakes, innumerable meatheaded quips, more slow-motion than your average cricket game and more swordfights and fisticuffs than have quite possibly ever been squished into 88 minutes before, and you have a recipe for a rip-roaringly fun adventure that’s much like a super-big budget episode of Xena on steroids. Oh, but with a bloke as the hero rather than a chick, for The Rock is very much a man’s man, yes indeedy he is.


You want to know about the video? Well, this 2.35:1, anamorphically enhanced presentation is pretty much perfect. I won’t waste time carrying on about all it has when you can rest assured it has all that is asked for from a good DVD transfer, with none of the yukky bits.

Audio too is a veritable treat, with a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 mixes. Obviously the DTS would have to be the mix of choice for those equipped to handle it, but either way you go the audio more than matches the on-screen action for sheer excitement. You’ll be ducking arrows, recoiling from explosions and generally having the equivalent of almost an hour and a half’s workout time, and all from the comfy confines of your favourite thing to park your bum upon. Subwoofwoof action is perfectly handled – it’s there almost constantly, but is never overtly over the top, dialogue is always clear, and it’s well synched in all but one place where a line seems to have obviously been changed, for those who wish to check it’s uttered by Cassandra just after the 37 minute mark.

The score is worthy of mention, as it’s certainly a bit of an odd bod. John Debney is credited as he who brings us the lushly orchestrated, Egyptian tinged with a hint of tribal drums affair, however every so often – and quite jarringly – virtual death metal chug-a-chug riffage bombards our senses, before going all nice and epicly stringy on us again. Curious. Speaking of things that go chug-a-chug and bombard our senses, two metal tracks scream out over the end credits – one from Godsmack (can I do the “naughty God” joke? Can I? Can I? Aww, go on!), and the other from the curiously named Mushroomhead. Hey, at least it’s better than Celine Dion, any old day.

Being the rental only version (the retail extravaganza is due December 4) there’s nothing in the way of useful extras. On start-up four advertisements are foisted upon us – one for the Scorpion King console game (which - surprise, surprise - The Rock wholeheartedly endorses), plus further ones for the DVD releases of E.T., the Back to the Future trilogy and the animated adventure The Mummy: Search For the Scrolls. Mercifully they can be skipped with the chapter advance button, however if you’re desperate to see them they are also available from the quite nicely animated main menu. Oh, there’s also that same old DTS trailer with the piano...

If you’re looking for depth of emotion, Oscar-calibre acting and a plot that’s deeper than Nietzsche then you’re totally on the wrong track with this flick. However, if you’re after quite the opposite – a fabulously fun, thrill-a-minute adventure with a cast who obviously loved hamming it up to the max for every second of screen time they were given, then go no further - The Scorpion King is an absolute action treat. Oh, and we even find out why he becomes known as the Scorpion King. Ouch!

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  •   And I quote...
    "If you’re after a fabulously fun, thrill-a-minute adventure with a cast who obviously loved hamming it up to the max, then go no further - The Scorpion King is an absolute action treat..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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