When it came to sitting down and watching the direct-to-video sequel to "The Scorpion King", I suppose my expectations were in reverse. I wasn't expecting greatness from the film - I was expecting a cheesy, corny lower-budget B-movie, with goofy dialogue and even goofier acting. However, "Scorpion King 2" is disappointing in that it's rarely "fun bad" - it's frequently just lackluster.
The movie is something of a prequel, turning back time to see how the character that was played by the Rock in the first film came to be who he is. Michael Copon stars as Mathayus, in this film a young man who wants to join the Black Scorpions, the group of warriors lead by the evil Sargon (UFC champion Randy Couture). When Mathayus steps in to try and save a friend, his father - one of Sargon's enemies - steps in. While the two men both leave the field of battle without either winning, Sargon uses magic to get into Mathyus's home that night and dispose of his father.
Years later, Mathayus has returned to his kingdom seeking vengeance, only to find that Sargon is now the ruler. While he attempts to get his revenge, it doesn't exactly go well, and Mathayus loses his brother in the process. He rides off to regroup, joined by a girl from his childhood (Karen David) and an irritating poet (Simon Quarterman) who, I suppose, is just there to add some comic relief.
It's when Mathayus regroups and tries to find a sword that can defeat Sargon that's guarded by an underworld queen that the movie starts to really wander just as much as the characters are. Nothing much happens and what little action there is - including a fight with a Minotaur that only gets laughs because the creature looks like something out of an Ed Wood movie. The movie has a couple of decent, minor action moments, but this isn't one of them, nor is the finale, where Sargon turns into...an invisible Scorpion? Way to save on effects, I suppose, but it looks ridiculous (when the Scorpion actually becomes partially visible towards the end of the scene, it actually manages to look even worse.)
The acting is largely terrible, especially the bland Copon. Couture seems a little disinterested (and I can't blame him) and some of the other supporting performances are certainly not memorable. The only one that emerges looking halfway decent is Karen David, who offers an acceptable performance as the energetic young woman warrior who joins Mathayus on his quest.
Overall, "Scorpion King 2" has a few short stretches where it's a B-movie guilty pleasure, but there's also a long stretch in the middle where the movie gets awfully tedious. Mulcahy may have had success with "Highlander", but he doesn't try to stretch what talent he has with this film, which - overall - is average at best as these sort of quickly made, direct-to-video pictures go.
VIDEO:Universal presents "The Scorpion King 2" in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality was generally excellent, as the picture appeared crisp and detailed throughout the show. Some slight edge enhancement was seen - as were a few instances of very light artifacting - but the film otherwise looked clean and clear. The color palette remained warm and rich, with fine saturation.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is about as aggressive as one might expect, with the surrounds used fairly often in order to place the viewer in the midst of the action. Audio quality is rather good throughout the show, with reasonably deep bass and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: A handful of "making of" featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel.
Final Thoughts: While the original turned a profit on DVD and in theatres, there was absolutely no need for a prequel (or a sequel in general) and this subpar direct-to-vid flick proves that. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality and a few extras. A slight rental recommendation for fans of the original who have to know where it all started - otherwise, skip it.
The Film D+