Sunday 22 March 2015

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power

The Scorpion King 4?! What? Hold on a second, there was a Scorpion King 2?

Personally, there's nothing quite like an action adventure film, particularly those that either fall into the “swords-and-sandals” or historical fiction genres. From the likes of Conan the Barbarian, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans and Solomon Kane just to name a few, it's a type of film I'm drawn to- a viewing experience packed with adventure, fun, action and mystery. In the late 90s the big one was the loose remake of the 1932 Boris Karloff horror, The Mummy. But The Mummy we got in 1999 wasn't a horror, but rather mashed together CGI monsters, a mummy that slowly begins to regrown flesh above its withered body, a giant flying face made of sand, some pretty awesome scenes in Ancient Egypt and Brendan Fraser looking as badass as Brendan Fraser can be. It all came together to literally make for one of the most enjoyable adventure films of all time. It still holds up today pretty well and the same goes for its sequel, a film that pretty much just turned the mummy action up to 11. But while The Mummy series eventually finished up with the decent enough Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008, Mathayus- the big bad that was revealed in The Mummy Returns- got his own spin-off prequel series called The Scorpion King. I knew there was at least one film released based on him, but four? Ummm OK.

Directed by Mike Elliot and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, a film that is essentially kind of shit, but also kind of watchable. The film focuses on The Scorpion King aka Mathayus, a guy with loads of muscles and a mean looking face who by this point has been played by like 50 different actors. After a powerful king is assassinated Mathayus is framed for his murder. Now, with legions of soldiers after him looking for blood, the Scorpion King teams up with a hot looking warrior woman and her old bizarre father to try and find a way to stop the evil heir that took to the throne in place of the dead king. If you check out the trailer none of this plot is hinted at though, as instead of telling you what the film is about, it just shows some random action scenes. As you can probably work out from my intro there, I haven't seen The Scorpion King 2 and 3. I wasn't massively confused when watching Quest for Power though, so I don't think its necessary to see what came before it.

Quest for Power isn't The Godfather, and what's refreshing here is that it's not trying to be something it isn't. It's trying to be the seventh film in The Mummy series if anything, and that isn't much to live up to, so I guess it has that going for it. Performances across the board fall into that gulf between horrendous and acceptable, with the cast being largely made up of washed up 80's actors like Michael Biehn, Rutger Hauer and Lou Ferrigno, a Youtuber you may have seen before, the dude that played Susan Saradon's husband in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the guy who played the Engineer in Prometheus and various UFC and WWE people. I actually like the “washed up 80's actors” here, but they're clearly just doing Quest for Power for the cash. I guess Ruter's gotta eat. Granted they don't look as bored as Ron Perlman looks on the cover to the third Scorpion King film, but they're almost there. Everyone acts as good as you'd expect them to in what is now the fourth Scorpion King film.

The action and set pieces are largely passable, with nothing really standing out as neither good or bad. There's plenty of scenes with dudes fighting with swords, people get stabbed, Mathayus is strapped to a chair in a room filled with terrible CGI fire, two women kick each others asses in a Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome-like arena and there's even a dragon whose awful CGI is obscured by only being shown in ultra close-ups. If any of that appeals to you Quest for Power might not be a complete failure in your eyes.

I guess the main feeling I took away from this film, an overall resounding “meh”. Sure it's cheesy, has some pretty shoddy performances throughout, the CGI literally looks like it was made for a Direct-To-VHS film in 1998, but I had fun with it, most likely for all of those reasons. When half of the world is looking towards the Oscars and all the crappy Oscar-bait films that populate most of its categories, I suggest you turn your head away and watch Quest for Power, cause why not?

Oh and by the way, is it just me or does the dude who plays Mathayus look like the secret love child of The Rock and Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power embraces its crappiness and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

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