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|The Scorpion King|
|Directed by||Chuck Russell|
|Cinematography||John R. Leonetti|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$180.6 million|
The Scorpion King is a 2002 American sword and sorcery action adventure film directed by Chuck Russell, starring Dwayne Johnson in the title role, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Grant Heslov and Michael Clarke Duncan. It is both a prequel to and spin-off of The Mummy franchise and launched The Scorpion King film series. The film marks Johnson's first lead role. It received mixed reviews and grossed $180.6 million worldwide against the production budget of $60 million.
The events of The Scorpion King take place 5,000 years before the events of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, revealing the origins of Mathayus and his rise to power as the legendary hero, the Scorpion King. The name is a reference to a historical king of the Protodynastic Period of Egypt, King Scorpion. The film was released on April 19, 2002.
Before the time of the pyramids, a horde of warriors from the East, led by Memnon, invades and conquers the local tribes until only a few remain. No tribe is willing to fight Memnon as they believe he is invincible with his sorcerer by his side. Mathayus, his half-brother Jesup, and their friend Rama, the only three true remaining Akkadians, are hired by King Pheron of the free tribes to kill Memnon's sorcerer for twenty blood rubies.
The Akkadians sneak into Memnon's camp but are ambushed by guards who were warned by King Pheron's son, Takmet, who pledged allegiance to Memnon and killed his father as proof of his betrayal. Rama is killed by an arrow, Jesup is captured and executed. Mathayus finds Memnon's sorcerer, Cassandra, who predicts battle outcomes for Memnon and has been his prisoner since she was a child. Mathayus is captured and buried up to his neck in the desert to be devoured by fire ants at dawn. Mathayus escapes with help from a fellow prisoner, the horse thief, Arpid, and desires to finish his mission and avenge his brother.
Mathayus sneaks into Memnon's stronghold, Gomorrah, and enters Memnon's palace with the help of a street urchin. Memnon's sympathetic court magician, Philos, directs Mathayus to the courtyard where Memnon is training. Mathayus tries to shoot Memnon from the watchtower, but instead saves the street urchin from having his hand cut off by Takmet under suspicion of theft. He barely escapes Gomorrah, abducting Cassandra along the way.
Memnon sends his warrior, Thorak, and a group of guards to kill Mathayus and retrieve Cassandra. He provides Thorak with an arrow tipped with scorpion venom to kill Mathayus. Mathayus detects the following army and rides to confront them, leading them into a nearby cave under cover of a sandstorm. Mathayus kills Thorak's men but he is pierced by the poison arrow by a dying Thorak.
Cassandra saves Mathayus via her magic.
Mathayus, Arpid, and Cassandra run into Philos, who escaped Gomorrah and has perfected an explosive powder. However, they are ambushed by the rebels, now under the rule of the Nubian King Balthazar. Though Mathayus defeats Balthazar in a fight and earns his grudging respect and sanctuary, Cassandra informs Mathayus that she has a vision of Memnon and his army slaughtering the entire rebel camp. Furthermore, she explains that if Mathayus faces Memnon, he will likely die.
The next morning, Cassandra returns to Memnon to stall and possibly kill him. Mathayus, with help from Balthazar, Arpid, Philos, and the army of rebels, launches an all-out assault on Memnon's stronghold, facing Memnon personally before he can kill Cassandra. Balthazar takes on Memnon's forces alone and kills Takmet during the battle, thus, avenging King Pheron. The battle continues until Mathayus is shot by a guard, as predicted by Cassandra. As Memnon is about to claim victory, Cassandra kills the guard. Mathayus retrieves his bow and pulls the same arrow that Memnon's guard shot at him from his back. He fires the arrow at the exhausted Memnon, sending him off the roof's edge and into flames where he dies. Philos and Arpid use the explosive powder to destroy the palace's foundation, bringing down Memnon's forces. With the battle over, the remnants of Memnon's army bow before Mathayus, who by their law is proclaimed the Scorpion King.
In the aftermath, Mathayus and Balthazar share a good-natured farewell as the latter returns to his own kingdom. Cassandra tells Mathayus that she sees a period of peace and prosperity coming, but warns him that it will not last forever. Undeterred, Mathayus decides that they will make their own destiny.
- Dwayne Johnson as Mathayus of Akkad / The Scorpion King
- Steven Brand as Memnon
- Kelly Hu as Cassandra / Sorceress
- Grant Heslov as Arpid
- Bernard Hill as Philos
- Michael Clarke Duncan as Balthazar
- Peter Facinelli as Takmet
- Ralf Moeller as Thorak
- Branscombe Richmond as Jesup
- Roger Rees as King Pheron
- Sherri Howard as Queen Isis
- Conrad Roberts as Chieftain
- Joseph Ruskin as Tribal Leader
|The Scorpion King|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||26 March 2002|
|Singles from The Scorpion King|
The soundtrack to The Scorpion King was released on March 26, 2002, just before the film was released on April 19. It contains tracks from various bands performing either previously released tracks or their B-sides. The album has been certified Gold by the RIAA.
|1.||"I Stand Alone"||Sully Erna||Godsmack||4:05|
|2.||"Set It Off" (Tweaker remix)||P.O.D.||P.O.D.||4:10|
|3.||"Break You"||Drowning Pool||2:48|
|4.||"Streamline"||System of a Down||3:36|
|5.||"To Whom It May Concern"||Creed||5:09|
|6.||"Yanking Out My Heart"||Nickelback||Nickelback||3:35|
|7.||"Losing My Grip"||Hoobastank||3:55|
|8.||"Only the Strong"||Flaw||Flaw||4:17|
|9.||"Iron Head" (featuring Ozzy Osbourne)||Rob Zombie||Rob Zombie||4:10|
|10.||"My Life"||12 Stones||12 Stones||3:03|
|11.||"Along the Way"||Mushroomhead||3:17|
|14.||"Burn It Black"||Injected||Injected||2:42|
|15.||"27"||Justin Rimer||Breaking Point||3:38|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||18|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||12|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||38|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||25|
|Canadian Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)||160|
|Canadian Alternative Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)||52|
|Canadian Metal Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)||26|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
The Scorpion King was released on DVD and VHS on October 1, 2002. It was released on Blu-ray on July 22, 2008, and was one of the first Universal titles released on the format. The Scorpion King was released on 4K on June 18, 2019.
The film spawned two video games: The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian for the Nintendo GameCube and the PlayStation 2, which served as a prequel to the film's events, and a sequel, The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris, for the Game Boy Advance, in which Cassandra is abducted by the ruthless sorcerer Menthu and his lackey, the witch Isis (not to be confused with Queen Isis from the film), prompting Mathayus to undergo a quest to uncover the legendary Sword of Osiris to defeat Menthu and Isis and rescue Cassandra.
The Scorpion King grossed $12,553,380 on its opening day and $36,075,875 in total over the weekend, from 3,444 theaters for an average of $10,475 per venue, ranking at #1 at the box office. The film had the largest April opening weekend at that time, beating The Matrix. This record would only last for a year before being surpassed by Anger Management in 2003. It then dropped 50 percent in its second weekend, but remained at #1, earning another $18,038,270. The film closed on June 27, 2002, with a total domestic gross of $91,047,077, and an additional $87,752,231 internationally, for a total worldwide gross of $178,799,308, against a budget of $60 million, making it a moderate box office success.
The Scorpion King holds a 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 137 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The site’s critical consensus states, "Action adventure doesn't get much cheesier than The Scorpion King." Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 30 reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of B, on a scale of A+ to F.
Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, writing "Here is a movie that embraces its goofiness like a Get Out of Jail Free card. The plot is recycled out of previous recycling jobs, the special effects are bad enough that you can grin at them, and the dialogue sounds like the pre-Pyramidal desert warriors are channeling a Fox sitcom... For its target audience, looking for a few laughs, martial arts and stuff that blows up real good, it will be exactly what they expected. It has high energy, the action never stops, the dialogue knows it's funny, and The Rock has the authority to play the role and the fortitude to keep a straight face. I expect him to become a durable action star."
James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two stars (out of four), saying: "It's possible to make an engaging action/adventure picture of this sort, but The Scorpion King isn't it." Dennis Harvey of Variety gave a positive review, saying the film "rouses excitement mostly from stuntwork and their agility rather than CGI excess." Nathan Rabin of The Onion's A.V. Club gave the film a mildly positive review, calling it "prototypical summer-movie fare, designed to be consumed, enjoyed, and forgotten all at once." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a score of C+, calling it "plodding and obvious" but adding that The Rock "holds it together." Jonathan Foreman of the New York Post gave a negative review, saying that The Scorpion King "has none of the qualities—epic sweep, relative originality and heartfelt bloodthirstiness—that made Conan so trashily entertaining."
Prequel and sequels
Following the film's release, there were plans for a sequel with Johnson to return as Mathayus and go up against a new villain, Sargon, but these plans eventually fell through and the project was shelved. A direct-to-video prequel, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, was released in 2008 with Michael Copon as Mathayus and Randy Couture as Sargon.
A sequel, The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, was released in 2012 with Victor Webster as Mathayus and Billy Zane as the villain, King Talus. The fourth film in the franchise, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, was released in 2015. Webster reprised his role, while Michael Biehn, Rutger Hauer, Lou Ferrigno and former WWE wrestler Eve Torres joined the cast. Will Kemp portrayed the villain, Drazen.
In November 2020, a remake of The Scorpion King film series was announced as in development. Jonathan Herman will serve as screenwriter, with the plot taking place in the modern-day, involving a contemporary adaptation of the Mathayus of Akkad / Scorpion King character. Dwayne Johnson will serve as producer alongside Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia. The project will be a joint-venture production between Universal Pictures and Seven Bucks Productions.
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