“The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption” is a sequel to the prequel of a prequel to the sequel of a remake. You got all that?
Universal had a smash hit in 1999 with a big-budget remake of their classic monster flick, “The Mummy.” Directed by Stephen Sommers, the remake featured whiz-bang special effects, Brendan Fraser as the square jawed hero, and Arnold Vosloo as the undead Egyptian sorcerer Imhotep. Universal followed that up with “The Mummy Returns,” which introduced a new antagonist in the Scorpion King as played by then-WWE superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock was quickly becoming too big for the colorful world of professional wrestling thanks to his quick wit and boundless charisma. Rock was quickly given his first starring role in “The Scorpion King,” which launched his new career as movie star. While Johnson went on to bigger and better things, Universal continued the franchise in 2008 with “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” and the direct-to-video prequel “The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” with relative unknown Michael Copon in the title role.
The series continues with “The Scorpion King 3,” another direct-to-video installment that takes place after the events of the first film. Taking over the role of Mathayus, the future Scorpion King, is Victor Webster, whose previous credits include “Days of Our Lives” and the syndicated sci-fi series “Mutant X.”
Mathayus has returned to his roots as a mercenary following the ruination of his kingdom and the death of his wife. Meanwhile, King Horus (Ron Perlman) is locked in a deadly struggle for power with his evil brother Talus (Billy Zane). Talus has declared war against the realm of King Ramusan (Temuera Morrison), the guardian of the mystical Book of the Dead. With the Book in his possession, Talus would be able to conquer the known world with an army of ghost warriors. Horus hires Mathayus to protect Ramusan and fight against the forces of Talus. In order to do so, Mathayus is reluctantly paired with a boisterous Germanic barbarian named Olaf (Bostin Christopher), who is armed with a mighty hammer and an undying hunger for mead and women.
While the Rock isn’t anywhere to be found, wrestling fans might be interested in the appearances of Dave Bautista, another WWE alumnus, and MMA fighter Kimbo Slice. Both play two of the undead warriors summoned by Talus. There are also war elephants, ninjas, and scantily clad ladies.
As Mathayus, Victor Webster is a far cry from Dwayne Johnson. Webster is a tall, good-looking dude, but he lacks the screen presence and charisma of his predecessor. Being forced to spew line after line of stilted dialogue certainly doesn’t help his cause. His co-star, Bostin Christopher, picks up the slack and brings a little energy to their scenes in a role that probably would have been filled by Donald Gibb (Ogre from “Revenge of the Nerds”) in the 80’s. Ron Perlman is always a welcome addition to any cast and he adds a dry humor to an otherwise joyless production. Billy Zane seems to realize how ridiculous the film is and plays it accordingly in a cartoonish and over-the-top manner. On the other hand, Temuera Morrison takes things seriously and gives a better performance than the movie deserves.
“Scorpion King 3” was directed by Roel Reiné, who has become the go-to guy for low-budget DTV fare. He has also directed “Death Race 2” and “The Marine 2,” starring another WWE superstar in Ted DiBiase Jr. Reiné certainly won’t be giving John Woo or Walter Hill a run for their money, but he competently handles the action, which was choreographed by Kawee Sirikanerut (“Ong Bak”) and Supoj Khaowwong (“Batman Begins”). Reiné does tend to overuse slow motion and he loves shots of armies preparing to charge into battle as if to show the film isn’t as cheap as you think though it’s clear he’s using the same extras over and over again.
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is clean, but suffers from a flat digital look with muted colors.
The audio is presented DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The sound is equally flat and somewhat scattershot. There are times where the dialogue was clearly done during ADR, which gets very distracting.
The Blu-Ray includes an audio commentary from director Roel Reiné discusses how he came onto the project, meeting the tough 25 day shooting schedule, tying his film into the rest of the franchise, and technical background on how he pulled off certain shots.
Swords and Scorpions: A Making Of (13:18) features the director and cast as they discuss the exotic locations (and bugs) in Thailand as well as the characters.
Preparing For Battle (5:54) is a look at the fight scenes and the combat training the actors went through.
The Blu-Ray also included about 13 minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes as well as a Deleted Shots Montage (4:14). You’ll also get a DVD version of the film and a Digital Copy for iTunes and Ultraviolet.
“The Scorpion King 3” is a cut above the usual dreck that makes up the DTV market, but it’s hardly an engrossing or entertaining film. It’s the pure definition of a sequel that didn’t need to exist.