Scorpion King [2002]

Director: Chuck Russell
Stars: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan, Steven Brand, Bernard Hill
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 92 minutes

There's nothing original in The Scorpion King, but this derivative action franchise gets off to a rousing start by cleverly stealing from a lot of better movies. Capitalizing on his brief cameo in The Mummy Returns, Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. World Wrestling Federation star the Rock) stars as Mathayus, an Akkadian assassin in the age preceding Egyptian pharaohs, who vows to avenge his brother's murder by an undefeated warlord (Steven Brand) prophesied to become the desert-ruling Scorpion King. Their battle for supremacy comprises most of the film's brisk 95-minute running time, punctuated by comic relief from Mathayus's obligatory sidekick (Grant Heslov), romance with a beautiful sorceress (Kelly Hu), and alliance with a massive Nubian (Michael Clarke Duncan) on the eve of their climactic showdown. There's no rhyme or reason to the film's depiction of ancient civilization (the costuming is particularly ludicrous), but the Rock demonstrates adequate action-star potential, and director Chuck Russell (The Mask) wraps it all in a slick, professional package. --Jeff Shannon

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