Those who never watch Smackdown are no doubt already snorting with derision. Fine. This is for devotees of the larger-than-life drama McMahon and the Rock provide every week. It's a flick filled with as much fighting, cleavage and near-nudity as a PG-13 allows. As the star himself is prone to say, just bring it.
A scoundrel by the name of Memnon (Steven Brand), who has a sinister English accent and the worst mullet ever, has taken control of the city of Gomorrah with the aid of a powerful sorcerer. (The more famous neighboring city of Sodom is mentioned but not glimpsed; that movie would presumably star ambiguously gay WWF tag-team champions Billy and Chuck.) The surviving chieftains band together and hire a team of assassins to take out the sorcerer. But the sorcerer turns out to be a hot chick (Kelly Hu) capable of distracting macho would-be murderers, and the assassins are all killed except Mathayus, who is buried up to his neck in sand to be eaten by computer-generated fire ants. Fortunately, a cowardly comic-relief character is conveniently around to unearth him.
How does all this relate to last summer's The Mummy Returns, which introduced Mathayus? Not much. There's only the slightest hint that he will one day become a giant, unconvincing-looking bug. But the Rock seems to have taken some acting lessons in the meantime, no doubt cognizant that simply walking through the desert and falling over won't cut it this time. For what it's worth, he's pretty good.
Despite the MTV demographic he's aiming for, director Chuck Russell (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) surprisingly hasn't fallen prey to the desire to make everything a series of quick cuts and annoying editing effects. Thanks, perhaps, to having a star who knows how to fake a fight better than most stuntmen, he is instead able to set the camera back and let us watch the battles in a coherent fashion.
Not that the movie is a masterpiece. Most obviously flawed is the soundtrack, which alternates heavy-metal riffs and pseudo-Egyptian music with an excessively silly love theme that underscores the cheesy clasps of Hu gazing longingly at the Great Eyebrowed One. But Russell doesn't make masterpieces -- he makes good B movies (The Mask, The Blob), and The Scorpion King more than ably meets those standards.