Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Director Russell Mulcahy is semi-special to me for back in 1991 he directed ‘Ricochet’, which I believe was the second movie that I took the pretty girl I was courting at the time, who later become my wife, a woman who I affectionately call 120 pounds of fury and anger, or more appropriately, my Dream Crusher. Mr. Mulcahy also directed the film my good friend Andre calls the Best Movie Ever in ‘The Highlander’. I don’t necessarily agree with Andre there, but there are a large number of movie lovers out there who do agree with my man ‘Dre on that one. Mr. Mulcahy has had an incredibly erratic career directing movies, though any career that involves making movies, erratic or not, still has to rock pretty hard. Today Russell is going Straight To Video on us with a completely unnecessary and uncalled for sequel to the totally mundane ‘The Scorpion King’ with ‘The Scorpion King 2: Rise of the Warrior’.

As a boy young Mathyus heard tales of his father Ashur’s (Peter Butler) great conquest as an elite member of the Black Scorpion squad of warriors who did all kinds of dirty deeds for the king. All young Mathyus wants to do with his life is be a warrior like his old man, but pops isn’t having it. Still, the precocious youth manages to sneak himself into the Black Scorpion Adolescent Training Program, but falls out of favor with the leader of the program General Sargon (Randy Couture) with the General about to kill the boy until his old man steps in, upsetting the General greatly. Always angry at Ashur’s favor with the king Sargon has the warrior mystically murdered one evening, in plain sight of the young Mathyus, who swears to learn the ways of the Black Scorpion and one day seek his revenge.

As the years have passed Mathyus (Michael Copon) has returned home a fierce Black Scorpion warrior but has learned that the duplicitous Sargon has now become king and has marked Mathyus as his personal bodyguard. As circumstance would have it that didn’t work out so well leaving Mathyus on the run from his hometown and off to Egypt where he hopes to find something that can slay the evil Sargon, who has become

almost invincible with his mastery of the black arts. Along for the ride on this trip to Egypt are Mathyus tough but incredibly cute girl buddy Layla (Karen David) and Greek poet Ari (Simon Quarterman) who serves the purpose of explaining a lot of the weird stuff that we are about to see. It will be quite the adventure as our heroes battle soldiers, a minotaur, devil witches and even make a trip to hell to retrieve the Sword of Damocles which they hope will end evil reign of Sargon. We the audience hope like hell this happens as well, otherwise there will be another prequel sequel, and Randy Couture will be that one too.

So I’m pretty sure that Randy Couture can kick my ass. As a matter of fact I’m certain of it. And I’m pretty damn tough. However, I’m also pretty sure that I’m a better actor than Mr. Couture, and I ain’t ever been in jack. Many will say this but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it too, but Randy Couture is no actor. But this shouldn’t be too terribly surprising though because he’s a MMA guy, not a pro wrestler. There’s a reason that The Rock, John Cena, Stone Cold, The Hulkster and Goldberg and the like seem at home on the screen and that’s because those guys are entertainers. Couture and his brethren are FIGHTERS first and foremost as there is nothing at all staged in what he does for a living, though I thought he was much better in his brief part in the film ‘Red Belt’. Not so in this movie as Couture came off completely unbelievable as some kind Mystic King figure, reciting his lines as if there was a cue card right behind the camera. What he did well in this movie was show his phenomenal abs and fighting skills, and though I’m happy to see anybody get a paycheck, the filmmakers might have been better served tracking down a real actor with a great physique to do this particular role.

The rest of this overly long movie was fairly lackluster. Lead Michael Copon seems like he would be more at home in a '21 Jump Street’ remake than as a great warrior, and considering his antagonist wasn’t helping him out any, he struggled as the protagonist to adequately carry the film on his own, which as it turns out was critical for this thing to be any good. Simon Quarterman did what he could with his role as the smarmy Greek poet and lent a bit of British charm to his role, Karen David is quite lovely in the atypical role of the tough spunky warrior girl and actress Natalie Becker was also quite hot as the witch who guards hell or something. Hell if I know.

For a movie that was destined for Direct to Video, the special effects were pretty decent for the most part, though the big minotaur battle seemed lit really low making it hard to tell what was going on, a device usually used to hide various flaws, but it did sound pretty brutal. The movie itself also had a lackluster Sci-Fi channel sheen to it and though I watched the film on a really large television with complete surround sound, the film just didn’t have a cinematic feel to it.

Honestly, I barely remember the original ‘Scorpion King’ other than Kelly Hu spent a lot of that movie in various states of constant undress, but what I do remember probably didn’t warrant a sequel, DTV or otherwise. But if Direct to Video is good nothing else, it’s good for DVD only sequels of marginally popular movies and to that end, one may find ‘Rise of the Warrior’ somewhat palatable, but as an overall movie, it’s lacking at best. Here’s to Russell Mulcahy casting Sticky Fingaz in ‘Ricochet 2’.

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