A direct-to-video prequel to a prequel/spinoff of a sequel (The Scorpion King and The Mummy Returns, respectively), I don’t think anybody expected the Scorpion King 2 to be a blockbuster piece of entertainment. That’s a good thing, because it isn’t. Director Russell Mulcahy is responsible for the sci-fi classic Highlander but he’s also responsible for the stupendously awful Highlander 2. He probably deserves the path his career has taken.
Michael Copon is Mathayus, a younger version of the character the Rock played in the first Scorpion King movie. The former Power Ranger brings a young Keanu Reeves vibe to role, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. At least he’s physically capable of handling the part.
Randy Couture is on hand as the evil villain Sargon. A former UFC champion, Randy is best known for his mixed martial arts expertise. I’ve heard Randy speak before and his voice sounds odd here; it’s as if he’s deepening it to try to sound evil. It doesn’t sound natural, and it’s hard to tell if that’s part of what makes him seem miscast. Possibly he’s just not good at acting. To make matters worse his real talent—beating people up—is mostly wasted. I’ll get to that later.
Unfortunately very little of the movie makes much sense. The plot is purely generic; Mathayus’s father is killed by Sargon. After years of training to become an elite warrior, he returns to discover that Sargon has killed the king and taken over the kingdom. Soon Mathayus is on a quest for revenge. After gathering a band of unlikely companions including the hot chick and the cowardly guy that makes snarky comments, they’re ready to rehash the Scorpion King’s plot. Their quest will take them to cities that you won’t see much of, minotaur-inhabited labyrinths, and to the very underworld. It sounds more exciting than it is.
There are a few bright spots. Karen Shenaz David is spunky and cute as Layla, Mathayus’s childhood friend and companion. There’s also a lot of action, and some of it is sort of fun in a stupid popcorn movie kind of way.
Unfortunately there are also plenty of weak spots. Besides the plot and fairly dismal acting from most of the people involved, the special effects are generally pretty lousy. Particularly in the final battle, which leads me to my biggest complaint with the film.
Filmmakers, you went out of your way to cast Randy Couture, whose real talent is beating people up. He’s not an actor. He’s a fighter. So when we get to the final fight and Mathayus and Sargon square off, they trade a couple of punches and kicks. And then what happens? Well, minor spoilers, so if you’re actually going to watch this flick you may not want to read this part. In all honesty the end of the movie is so poorly handled that I feel that I’d be doing a disservice if I don’t mention it.
Spoilers: Highlight to view text.
Sargon turns into a GIANT INVISIBLE FUCKING SCORPION. Scorpions don’t know mixed martial arts, so obviously Randy’s skills aren’t real useful after this transformation. And since the scorpion is INVISIBLE, this fight is incredibly fucking lame. It’s got to be one of the worst final fights in a movie in the last 10 years.
At least while that’s going on Layla and some Chinese acrobat kung fu guy are kicking ass in one of the better fights in the movie. Layla really has most of the better fights in the film. The Chinese guy ends up being cooler than Mathayus too. It’s clear from the movie posters and DVD artwork alone that no one thought Mathayus was a selling point.
Should you see this movie? I have no idea. It’s not good, but I’m sure you already knew that. If you want a cheesy swords and sorcery flick with a lousy ending this is certainly that kind of film. I didn’t think the first Scorpion King movie was particularly good and this one upholds that fine tradition. It just does it with a much lower budget.