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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 64:39)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Romanian
  Extras
  • 9 Deleted scenes
  • Teaser trailer - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • 8 Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Godsmack - I Stand Alone
  • DVD-ROM features
  • 5 Outtakes
  • DTS trailer - Piano

The Scorpion King

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 88 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

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.

"Boo!"

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.

  Video
Contract

Universal have supplied a reference quality transfer for this release. The aspect ratio is 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced for those so equipped. The transfer is almost perfect with practically no faults. Picture is sharp throughout, colours are true and detail is excellent. There are no film artefacts to speak of and the only concern is occasional aliasing, but this is not a major problem. Subtitles are reasonably true to what occurs on screen and the layer change occurs at 64:39 and is not too intrusive.

  Audio
Contract

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!

  Extras
Contract

There are some quite impressive extras with this release and all contained on a single disc. The majority of the featurettes contained could be considered the “Chuck Russell Show”, as he comments the most, but they are all quite entertaining. Most of them are supplied in full frame and come with a DD 2.0 stereo or surround audio.

Extended Version in Enhanced Viewing Mode
For this enhanced version the distributors have used a technique called branching. This is when a single disc can contain two versions of the same film. The ability to put two full versions on one disc is quite simple, the original version is used for both but the extended or alternative version is programmed to retrieve required additional scenes as needed, giving the impression it is a completely separate version. Many distributors choose to supply two different versions of films as separate releases, such as an R rated version and an M15+ version, to attract a wider audience, an example of this is American Pie 2. This feature should be seamless, but in this case it is not. The alternative and deleted scenes are quite obvious due to a noticeable pause while the scene is retrieved. These alternative scenes are of inferior quality, and when placed alongside the original scenes, continuity suffers. Full marks to Universal for the attempt at supplying this feature, but only completists will be totally satisfied.

Feature Commentaries
There are two commentaries with this release, one with Director Chuck Russell and a second one with the star of the film The Rock. Chuck Russell goes scene by scene and gives some great background information on scene creation, the cast, locations and all sorts of interesting details. As for the second commentary with The Rock, the best way to describe it is to say it is very funny. He begins by saying “Thank you for buying this DVD, but if you rented it then you are cheap”. A couple of comments made early on also include “This is one of my favourite scenes because it’s opening the movie” and “See in the background there the girl with the fake breasts, as they often were fake back in 5000BC”. Yes he has missed the date the film is set in by 2000 years, but you get the idea. These quotes are just a small sample of what you are in for during this commentary.

Outtakes
There are five scenes contained in this package that are mostly brief and are simply the actors cracking up during filming.

Alternate Versions of Key Scenes
This package contains nine alternative versions of scenes. Most are the full scene with a small part altered, be it a change of dialogue or additional footage.

Spotlight on Location: The Making of The Scorpion King
With a running time of 14:28, this featurette includes interviews with the cast and crew about such topics as casting, the animals used in the film, working with The Rock and the trials of filming.

Ancient World Production Design
This featurette looks at the creation of sets for the film and has a running time of 3:25 in total.

Shooting a Fight Sequence Actually two featurettes, this extra includes Preparing the Fight with a running time of 6:36 and The Fiery Swords Scene with a running time of 4:00. Both are very informative and look at how certain scenes were choreographed and filmed.

The Rock and Michael Clarke Duncan
Running for 6:42 in total, this featurette looks at the relationship between two stars from the film. This feature is extremely funny and demonstrates their obvious friendship. An interesting segment is regarding a fight scene where The Rock accidentally really hit Michael and the debate as to whether he was knocked out.

Costume Design Funnily enough, this featurette is about the costumes used in the film. It runs for a brief 2:49 and offers some interesting information.

Working With Animals
Containing interviews with cast and crew about all the animals used, this featurette is quite humorous and informative. The main focus is on the camel used and the running time is 6:04.

The Special Effects
Split into two sections, this feature gives a very brief look at how the special effect were done for The Cobras and The Fire Ants.

Godsmack I Stand Alone Music Video
With a running time of 4:55, this music video from metal band Godsmack contains many scenes from the film and is quite a good clip.

Theatrical Trailer
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and with DD 2.0 surround audio, this trailer runs for 1:36.

The Scorpion King Console Game
This is simply an advertisement for the console game and includes footage of the game play as well as comments from The Rock promoting the game.

DVD-ROM Featuring Total Axess
This feature is said to contain web links to a secret location to see an interview with The Rock as well as storyboards, but all I could access were web links to Universal's standard sites.

E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial DVD Trailer
A brief trailer to promote the recent release of this classic film, this is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85 with a DD 2.0 stereo audio track and runs for 48 seconds.

  Overall  
Contract

If you are looking for a dramatic classic then look elsewhere, this is a fun action film that tries to be nothing else. The story is fun, the acting is good, the effects are well done and the fight scenes are terrific. The video and audio are of reference quality and the extras are plentiful. This is not quite as good as The Mummy films, but it doesn’t really try to be. The Rock rocks, so check it out!


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2136
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      And I quote...
    "For a fun filled, non-stop action romp The Scorpion King is terrific!"
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS305
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE685
    • Speakers:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SAVE815ED
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