The Scorpion King
Directed by Chuck Russell
Written by David Hayter, William Osborne, Stephen Sommers
Starring The Rock


The Scorpion King

"The Scorpion King" is a World Wrestling Federation Smackdown film, with a few nods to Universal, which released it and does take production credit; and just about everything in the film is pitched to that eager WWF television audience. For example: our hero is played by The Rock, and notice the capital T - if that were his real name he surely would have some unresolved issues with his parents - who is the current WWF star. Now even I know that The Rock's real name is Dwayne Johnson, but Executive Producer Vince McMahon, who runs the whole WWF empire, would rather die, or at least be fallen on by one of his wrestlers, than let Mr. Johnson out in public under his real name.

But speaking of names, here's the list of characters' names in the film: The Rock's character's name is Mathayus - no doubt the phonetic spelling is to help the reading-impaired in the audience. His nemesis is Memnon (Steven Brand), an easy name for a villain. Memnon. I like it. Then there's, well, you guess what the seer's name is, she who has trouble finding someone to believe her. Yes, you're right, it's Cassandra! And last but not at all least we have Michael Clarke Duncan, strong ally of Mathayus, and he is named Balthazar, I believe after the restaurant.

Is there a picture in here? Not so you'd notice. What you do notice is that every time The Rock has to fight someone, he gets the piss beaten out of him right up to the point of audience narcolepsy, and then suddenly delivers the death blow. I had thought that style of fighting went out with Gorgeous George, but it seems to have made a comeback here. I should also point out that The Rock's screen performance is a lot less animated than his lookalike Steven Seagal, and he is a good deal slower on his feet. No doubt because of this and perhaps a speech impediment, his sentences are pretty much limited to three or four words. The one I remember, because it is repeated a number of times, is "Live free, die well." We can all say that together if you like.

In its first weekend of release, "The Scorpion King" grossed just over $36 million, which is, if not obscene, at least something to keep in mind when you don't go to see an independent film because it might challenge you a bit too much.

You say I haven't told you about the film itself. Okay. It's the story of how The Rock came to be in "The Mummy Returns." See? Now you know.