Let me preface this review with the following: I love silly, over-the-top action flicks and especially ones featuring current and former WWE stars, so if you don’t necessarily consider yourself a fan of such films, then THE SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION won’t do much for you. However, if you’re into swords and sandals-type action films and enjoyed Chuck Russell’s original flick THE SCORPION KING when it hit theaters back in 2002 (Wow, has it really been 10 years already?), then you’ll no doubt want to check out BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION for yourself once it’s released this week courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
In BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION, we meet Mathayus (Victor Webster) who is a king without a kingdom. Through the opening sequence we learn that Arcadia has fallen and he has lost his beloved queen in the process. Now an assassin for hire, Mathayus’ only interests are money and better living until he moves onto the next life and he has no interest in maintaining his SCORPION KING moniker any longer. Mathayus meets with King Horus (Ron Perlman) for a new quest, one that promises him many riches despite the risk- he needs to stop Horus’s brother, the evil warlord Talus (Billy Zane, being all Billy Zany for viewers) from retrieving the Book of the Dead and resurrecting the unstoppable “ghost warriors”- played by Dave Bautista, Kimbo Slice and Selina Lo- before it’s too late and Talus gains ultimate power over his otherworldly warriors and the kingdom Mathayus must now protect.
Along Mathayus’ journey, he gets himself a sidekick by the name of Olaf (Bostin Christopher, from the criminally underrated horror comedy OTIS) who’s a large, brute of a man who prefers old-school clobbering to the fancy swordplay we see most of our other characters engage in and delivers one-liners with an oafish glee. Mathayus also rescues the stunning Silda (Krystal Vee), a princess who fights for the rights of her people from oppression, from Lord Talus’ camp who ends up being someone the former SCORPION KING definitely wants on his side once the chips are down.
As you can guess, Talus does indeed get his grimy mitts on the Book of the Dead and soon it’s up to Mathayus, Silda and Olaf to fight the villainous leader and his new ghostly legion of warriors and put a stop to their tyranny and restore order to Silda’s kingdom.
Going into a movie like BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION, you know you’re not in for an Oscar bait movie so it’s always best to check your pretenses at the door. Sure, the story is a bit clunky and some of the dialogue is cheesy but what saves SCORPION KING 3 from being a mediocre DTV effort are the efforts of director Roel Reiné and the entire cast who definitely all look like they were having a blast making the flick over in Thailand.
For those who may not be familiar with Reiné’s work, he recently helmed the surprisingly good DEATH RACE 2 and seems to be the go-to guy for DTV action-infused flicks. He clearly knows his audience, he knows he’s not making a high-art film and truly made every single nickel of his $6 million dollar budget count here. The cinematography (also by Reiné) looks great and gives the movie a much ‘bigger’ feeling than it really was and the action sequences are great, specifically the Elephant Battle which gets my praise for not relying on CG creatures to sell anything.
The cast all turn in strong performances considering the material they’re working with here and as someone who has an undying oath of allegiance to Dwayne Johnson, Webster is definitely a worthy heir to take over The Rock’s throne in the SCORPION KING franchise. Zane is an absolute wild card in this and Perlman is serviceable with his performance as well but it’s Christopher as Olaf who ends up being the breakout star here. Kimbo Slice doesn’t do a lot here but look terrifying (which he does incredibly well) and Bautista (making this one of his first really prominent movie roles) does well with his role as conflicted warrior badass Argomael in BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION.
And while there isn’t any doubt that the SCORPION KING movies are definitely testosterone-fueled, the women of BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION do a great job of holding their own against their male counterparts. Vee stumbles a bit at first with her performance as Silda but by the third act, you can sense she’s finally comfortable in her role and Lo, as deadly ghost warrior Tsukai, is pretty much the badass to beat in the flick. The things that Lo can do with her fight choreography are pretty remarkable to behold and the fact that it’s a stunningly gorgeous woman on top of it- awesomeness all around.
The Blu-Ray presentation of BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION is some top-notch stuff from Universal. The movie looks and sounds amazing and the supplemental materials offer up a bevy of fun for fans of the franchise. We get some deleted and extended scenes, a deleted shots montage, a gag reel (further demonstrating just how much fun everyone who worked on SCORPION KING 3 had making the flick), “Swords and Scorpions”- a making-of featurette and “Preparing for Battle”- a featurette that goes behind the scenes of the epic Elephant Battle in the film.
Reiné provides some thoughtful and light-hearted commentary on the BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION home release and for those of you “hoity toity” types, the disc is also D-Box Enabled. Universal also provides fans a digital copy of SCORPION KING 3 as well as an Ultraviolet code as well (frankly, I always go with a digital copy- rather have it in my hand than hanging around in some intangible ‘cloud’ somewhere) with their Blu-Ray release, giving fans some good value for their hard-earned dollars.
The bottom line is- if you’re not really someone who digs on the DTV action-adventure niche of movies as of late, THE SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION won’t be of much interest to you. Personally, I enjoy when a movie can keep me entertained and laughing consistently and that’s what I got here with the third installment with this (hopefully) growing franchise. Reiné has completely made up for the misfire that was SCORPION KING 2 by assembling a really talented cast that felt natural to their respective roles and breathing new life into a story that was first introduced to fans back during THE MUMMY 2 and has now officially established a true legacy all of its own here.
Long live THE SCORPION KING!
Movie- 3.5 out of 5
Special Features- 3.5 out of 5