There's nothing original in The Scorpion King
, but this derivative action franchise gets off to a rousing start by cleverly stealing from a lot of better movies. Capitalising on his brief cameo in The Mummy Returns
, Dwayne Johnson
(a.k.a. World Wrestling Federation star the Rock) stars as Mathayus, an Akkadian assassin in the age preceding Egyptian pharaohs, who vows to avenge his brother's murder by an undefeated warlord (Steven Brand) prophesied to become the desert-ruling Scorpion King. Their battle for supremacy comprises most of the film's brisk 95-minute running time, punctuated by comic relief from Mathayus's obligatory sidekick (Grant Heslov), romance with a beautiful sorceress (Kelly Hu), and alliance with a massive Nubian (Michael Clarke Duncan) on the eve of their climactic showdown. There's no rhyme or reason to the film's depiction of ancient civilization (the costuming is particularly ludicrous), but the Rock demonstrates adequate action-star potential, and director Chuck Russell (The Mask
) wraps it all in a slick, professional package. --Jeff Shannon
In the notorious city of Gomorrah, evil warlord Memnon is determined to lay to waste all the nomadic peoples of the desert. Because the few remaining tribes are virtually powerless against him, they decide to hire a skilled assassin, Mathayus, to eliminate Memnon's most prized asset: the sorceress Cassandra, who lies at the root of Memnon's power. Mathayus's plan, however, is to kidnap Cassandra rather than kill her. He knows if he takes her deep into the desert badlands as his hostage, Memnon and his henchman will stop at nothing to rescue her...