How does someone named Dwayne Johnson become an action movie star? How does that same man become a world champion wrestler? Easy, change your name! “Dwayne the Stain” doesn’t quite work, how about “Dwayne Cleaner”? No, it just lacks that certain ring. Dwayne started off as a very good American football player in high school. He earned himself a scholarship and looked set for the NFL, this was until he ruptured two discs. He continued to play through the pain barrier only to cause more damage, ruining his chances of making the big league. From there he became a personal trainer and decided to follow his father and grandfather into the world of wrestling.
The problem with the name still existed, so now it was time for a change. His first wrestling name was Flex Kavana and after a few bouts he was signed up to the then WWF. They suggested that he change his name to Rocky Maivia but he protested greatly. It wasn’t until he joined the WWE and he had a little more control that he finally agreed to use this name. Rocky still sounded more like a boxer than a wrestler so he decided to change his name one more time, hence the birth of The Rock. After acquiring many world titles and amassing a huge following, the next step was the world of acting. Now what would a wrestler know about acting? Would he be able to manage choreographed fight scenes? More importantly, if he wanted to do acting, who would be brave enough to say no?
The Rock made his big screen debut as The Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, the second film in The Mummy series of films that consisted of, well two. The introduction of this character left the studio with the opportunity to make a spin-off movie, a prequel rather than a sequel, and to give the Scorpion King a more prominent role. The similarities between The Mummy and The Mummy Returns to The Scorpion King are few and far between, sand is about the only one really, so don’t be expecting lots of guys wrapped in bandages running around.
The time is 3000BC and it is the time of the hordes. It is a an era when the strongest and most skilful fighter becomes the leader of a tribe and thus becomes the king. Memnon (Steven Brand) is a master swordsman, the best the world has ever seen in fact, and through this skill has become the king of the largest army in existence. He maintains his rule by mercilessly wiping out anyone that may resist him. The last of the free tribes have aligned in a desperate attempt to avoid extinction. Mathayus (The Rock) is one of the remaining three Akkaydians, a tribe said to be skilled assassins. The Akkaydians are recruited by the last of the free tribes to attempt an assassination, not of the evil Memnon, but rather on the key to his power - the sorcerer. Everyone is happy with this arrangement except for Alliance members Balthazar (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Prince Takmet (Peter the Tom Cruise impersonator Facinelli). Mathayus has the ability to strike fear into those that he encounters, usually this is because they are about to meet their maker.
Mathayus sets about his task and soon encounters Cassandra (Kelly Hu), the stunningly beautiful woman with hair almost as long as his own. Director Chuck Russell makes a point of trying to introduce his leading ladies by way of a dramatic scene and this is no different. Mathayus acquires the help of Arpid (Grant Heslov), a horse thief with a big yellow streak down his back. Arpid isn’t a great deal of help though, other than creating a few laughs. With the soldiers of Memnon out to kill them, they must try to stop the evil king and return peace to the people.
|"After a long day of pillaging and looting, there's no city like Gomorrah... except maybe Sodom!"|
Lovers of action films with an emphasis on fun will adore this. The action is non-stop from start to finish with a plethora of sword fights and chases to keep the viewer interested throughout. The Rock is perfect for this role, but the supporting cast are also very well suited. Many may think Steven Brand is not right for the part of Memnon as they may feel this role should have gone to someone of equal size to The Rock, another wrestler perhaps, but I feel he is very well suited. The producers have gone for a slighter man, but have emphasised the character’s skill as a swordsman and his agility to counteract the size of his opponent. Kelly Hu is terrific in her role and Grant Heslov is also entertaining, although many may find him annoying, but of the supporting cast, it’s Michael Clarke Duncan that steals the show. The friendship between Duncan and The Rock is evident throughout the film, with many scenes showing obvious signs that they would have needed several takes to get them right due to the practical joking and camaraderie between the two.
The Rock is said by some to be the next action hero of the big screen, the next Arnie even, and whether this is true or not can only be determined over time. He has a few projects in the pipeline including a possible Scorpion King 2 as well as starring roles in the upcoming films King Kamehameha and Spy Hunter, along with some untitled projects. The need for a sequel to this film is very apparent as there is a rather large gap between the ending of this one and where the character first appears in The Mummy Returns. His star power is undisputed and anyway, he always has wrestling to fall back on.
The audio supplied for this release is also of reference quality and compliments the video transfer well. There is a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and Hungarian, but the track of choice for those with the capability is the DTS 5.1 track. This track is awesome and contains great usage of all the surrounds for directional effect as well as to build the music ambience. The subwoofer goes into overdrive for some great rumbly noises and all other sounds are crystal clear. There is a slight problem with audio synch on one occasion at 34:40, but overall it is quite acceptable.
The musical score deserves a mention, as it is quite interesting. It has combined classical adventure music with some quite heavy rock and roll to suit The Rock and the fun of the film. There is very little to find fault with, so pump it up and enjoy!