DVD Release Date: Tuesday, October 1, 2002
Once upon a time, before he was “the actor that used to be a wrestler,” The Rock was “the wrestler trying to be an actor.” After a brief but well-received turn in The Mummy Returns, The Rock was given his first starring vehicle as a spinoff of that successful franchise. He proved to be a pretty good draw his first time out, as The Scorpion King grossed over $165 million worldwide, and not to mention spawned three direct-to-video sequels.
At the center of it all is the birth of one of today’s biggest and most charismatic action stars, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Obviously he’s not perfect here, and The Scorpion King is far from a cinematic masterpiece, but it’s easy to tell even here that Rock had a bright future in Hollywood ahead of him.
The film takes place “before the time of the pyramids,” and Rock stars as Mathayus, an assassin for hire and one of three remaining members of the Akkadian race. King Pheron (Roger Rees) hires Mathayus to kill his rival Memnon’s (Steven Brand) Sorceress (Kelly Hu), who sees visions of the future and has been Memnon’s most valuable asset in battle. This has quite a ripple effect. Pheron’s son Takmet (Peter Facinelli) is irritated about this because the fee totally depletes their treasury; while Nubian King Balthazar (Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan) doesn’t like this because he hates the Akkadian people, and also he seems pretty grumpy in general.
So people are mad, swords are drawn – it’s no mystery how movies like this go. It also shouldn’t shock anyone that the two best looking people in the film by a wide margin (Rock and Hu) end up falling for each other and that dramatically alters Mathayus’ plans.
All that sets the stage for an epic final battle between Mathayus, with help from Balthazar’s army, and Memnon’s and his army. At no point does director Chuck Russell (The Mask, Eraser) reinvent the wheel, but by and large King looks good and sounds good, and what else can you reasonably expect from this type of movie?
With the help of its charismatic lead star, The Scorpion King can certainly be considered a success given the expectations. Bigger things were in store for The Rock.