Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here.
This month is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Month here at the JOE-DOWN, where we will review some flicks from The People’s Champ’s filmography.
For this week’s installment, Froemming picked “The Scorpion King.”
The Movie: “The Scorpion King”
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Steven Brand, Michael Clarke Duncan
Director: Chuck Russell
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A desert warrior rises up against the evil army that is destroying his homeland. He captures the enemy’s key sorcerer, takes her deep into the desert and prepares for a final showdown.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 41 percent
Froemming: What are we doing here? What is this? Normally, our theme months have at least one or two decent films for us to sit through. But as Joe Brown and I venture through the filmography of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I am starting to suspect that The People’s Champ may have made some bad choices in his film career. Like, perhaps 90 percent of the time.
We watched him grill hands, which was kinda cool, as a Homer Simpson-esque doofus in “Pain & Gain.” We watched him destroy children’s imaginations while also donning tights in “The Tooth Fairy.”
Now we watched where it pretty much all began with “The Scorpion King,” a movie that is perhaps the worst episode of “Game of Thrones” I have ever seen, and I have watched every episode this season, which is saying a lot.
Is The Rock charming in this? Not really. Is the action fun? Nope. Does it look and feel like a throwaway episode of “Hercules” or “Xena?” You bet your ass it does.
Brown, as I try to ponder how all these white dudes existed in ancient Egypt, why don’t you give us your first thoughts?
Brown: I don’t remember this movie being so… dumb.
I swore up and down that I had seen this movie before. But, as I kept chugging along in this movie, less and less was familiar. At this point, I think I confused “The Scorpion King” with the movie that spawned the titular character: “The Mummy 2.”
Like how you call it the worst episode of “GoT,” I wrote in my notes that this movie was “Conan the Barbarian,” written by Monty Python. Well, like Monty Python’s B-team.
Then I saw this image in the credits, backed by Godsmack’s “I Stand Alone” and it all made sense.
The man who brought us “No Holds Barred” was responsible for “The Scorpion King.” A lot makes sense now.
While I look for the kids that stole my blood rubies, I’ll let you get things started, Froemming.
Froemming: In a time before the pyramids, but a time that also includes the English language, we are introduced to a wartorn Egypt being dominated by a white guy with a Hot Topic haircut named Memnon. This is a man who wins every battle, takes what he wants and destroys all in his path. A man so brutal that, again, he rocks what looks like a cornrow mullet because he knows no one will dare mock his hillbilly ways. He may as well rule with a sword in one hand and a Miller High Life in the other.
There is a rebellion growing. Robert’s Rebell…wait, no, that is GoT. This is a rebellion at the hands of the free tribes who refuse to bend the knee…yeah, look, I think the person who wrote this read “A Game of Thrones” and based this on the Dothraki and some other points, but cocaine cut their memory short so it got all jumbled up.
The free tribes enlist Mathayus and his half-brother to help them take out this ruthless monster, a mad king if you will. Mathayus is perhaps the most hillbilly name given to someone supposed to have existed in ancient Egypt and is supposed to be a cunning warrior. When I hear the name Mathayus, I envision a meth head at Wal-Mart trying to buy sudafed-filled cold medicine.
Brown: OK, there’s some things to sort through before Mathayus gets hired to assassinate Jason Newsted… err… Memnon.
First scene of this movie is a guy taking a ninja star to the eye like he’s Butters.
Then, we find out that The Rock’s trusty steed is… a camel? Mathayus’s claim is that camels are smarter than horses. This is pretty much the moment where I was like “Oh, this movie is really (REDACTED) stupid.”
Finally, while Mathayus and his brother are being offered the chance to assassinate Memnon, we see Michael Clarke Duncan got dragged into this movie. Poor guy is still warm in his grave and we have to see him in this.
Froemming: They take the chance with the payment of 20 rubies, which we find is the last in the treasury of this particular tribe by the son of the leader. I always figured in the ancient times, everything was on the haggline system like an Italian Market.
Brown: Everything I learned about Egypt was from heavy metal songs. Like Metallica’s “Creeping Death.” Or Mercyful Fate’s “Curse of the Pharaohs.” Or the album cover for Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave.”
Froemming: Everything I learned about ancient Egypt is from “Ancient Aliens.” So, just so you know, everything in history was caused by aliens.
Brown: Holy (REDACTED), we are ignorant.
Froemming: We are Americans, of course we’re (REDACTED) ignorant. It is a point of pride here. USA! USA!
Now, with their payment in hand, Mathayus and his crew head off into the desert to take on post-Metallica Jason Newsted (I am from this point calling Memnon Jason Newsted and Mathayus The Rock because this is all fake and I hate spelling nonsense words).
Brown: So much about this initial charge on Jason Newsted’s clan makes no sense when you remember this one part: Jason Newsted has a sorceress. This entire attack could be made futile with no loss of human life because they literally know what’s going to happen.
But sure enough, The Rock is able to shoot an arrow with a rope to repel across the camp from that NO ONE reacts to and adds to an already impressive body count.
And when The Rock finds the Sorceress, OF COURSE she’s Asian because Vince McMahon has never been subtle with his racism. The Sorceress knows The Rock’s name and everything.
Again, she had the power to see this attack and did nothing to prevent loss of life. Yes, The Rock gets captured, but no one had to die. We find out later that she let The Rock live because she knew he’d be the one to rescue her from Jason Newsted. Why not use your power to find where they were coming from, escape camp and join The Rock’s cause.
The movie’s answer: (REDACTED) you, Joe.
Froemming: Because this movies is (REDACTED) stupid, that’s why.
We find out the son of the guy who paid the rubies turned on his tribe and killed his father in the most terrible thought out plan I have seen in some time. Why not kill the old man before all of this and save everyone the headache of this dumb little adventure.
But alas, here we are. A turncoat son who beheaded his father to join Newsted for reasons? And now The Rock and his brother are captured. Well, his brother gets his throat slashed because that is a quick and efficient way to off someone. But for The Rock? Well, let’s just say Newsted went to the Dr. Evil School of Terrible Ways to Kill a Protagonist. Because he buries The Rock up to his neck in sand so he can unleash CGI fire ants upon his skull.
Brown: Still not the worse of CGI The Rock has experienced in this “Mummy” series.
The Rock isn’t the only one to be executed this way as horse thief Arpid is also buried neck deep in sand. However, he has a plan to escape and through the power of plot convenience, Arpid digs himself out and knocks out a guard who is conveniently taking a leak while he escapes.
The Rock convinces Arpid to set him free and the two form an uneasy alliance. By uneasy alliance, I mean The Rock threatens to kill Arpid at every turn despite the fact that he said he wouldn’t and apparently, like Rip from “No Holds Barred,” The Rock’s word is his bond.
So we begin assassination attempt number two, where The Rock storms Gomorrah.
I would say we’re about to get Biblical, but there’s no doubt the person who wrote this movie does not read.
*checks credits, sees David Hayter was one of the writers*
Holy (REDACTED), the voice of Solid Snake from “Metal Gear Solid,” my favorite video game, helped write this tripe?
… Never meet your heroes, kids.
Froemming: To sneak in, The Rock has to punch Arpid in the face because he did what we were all thinking at this point. With a knocked-out Arpid, The Rock sneaks in by saying he caught this horse thief and wants the bounty.
It was at this moment I began questioning my life choices.
Anyway, now in the city he wakes Arpid by waterboarding him in a local fountain, then places him at a bar so he can do his job. The Rock here is like a 1960s parent leaving a kid in the car while he goes inside a tavern to get blitzed.
While wandering the town, some street toughs happen to steal his sack of rubies, so you know, a fun caper ensues.
I hate this movie so, so much.
Brown: What action movie set in the Middle East doesn’t have a scene where a child joins in the danger? With that said, I don’t even know if this kid gets a name so you can tell how much the movie cared about him.
Anywho, while storming the stronghold, The Rock ends up in the workshop of a magician who is working on some magic Chinese powder.
… It’s gun powder, you dunce. I was legit waiting for this racist magician to say the powder was an “ancient Chinese secret.”
Froemming: Again, a lot of white people just living in ancient Egypt, where everyone just happens to speak English.
Now, I don’t remember much of what happens next because this movie bored the living hell out of me, but we see Newsted (probably upset for years because his bass was taken out of “And Justice..”) in the town square, where the guards are going to chop the hand off the little kid because he has a rubie. The Rock has a choice as he aims his arrow: Save the child or kill Cliff Burton’s replacement.
He saves the child.
Then he shoots his arrow at Newsted, who blocks it with his sword.
A quick google search told me that an arrow from a bow travels anywhere between 150-200 MPH. So, not only does this movie give the finger to history and fun, it also takes a giant crap over physics and logic.
Brown: Well, this is a movie where The Rock falls from various heights and survives all of them. He also survives a catapult launch that lobs The Rock into Jason Newsted’s harem. And instead of being like “Holy (REDACTED), a 6-foot-4 Hulk flew into our window! Flee!” the harem is thirsty for The People’s Champion. I mean, yeah, they disarm him and leave him vulnerable for attack, but the harem treats this like a weekly occurrence.
This leads to The Rock falling through awnings and various wood that would surely impale him. That doesn’t happen. INSTEAD, he falls in front of the Sorceress’s bath and abducts the naked woman by breaking through the sewer system.
And legit, this movie steals a joke from “Animal House.” When The Rock and the Sorceress emerge in the open, there’s a kid who’s all “Praise the Gods” that a naked woman showed up in front of him.
I saw that joke done better.
Froemming: He now takes off with the Sorceress into the desert, where we find our comic relief Arpid has stolen The Rock’s camel and they find him. I was hoping since Arpid betrayed him, The Rock would chop off his head and drink from his skull. Nope. Arpid is with us for the whole thing.
Now, we learned earlier that the Sorceress’ powers go away once she has sex, a curious and baffling rule, but alas, we are in Nonsense Land already, so we have to deal with it. I bring this up because, to put in in delicate terms, after we get this Sam and Diane thing for two minutes between her and The Rock, they bone.
Have I said I hate this movie? Because I really hated this movie.
Brown: They don’t bone quite yet. First, there’s a fight scene that I’ll admit to thinking was pretty cool.
Brown: With Jason Newsted’s men on the hunt for The Rock and co., The Rock decides to use the desert to his advantage. He attacks the group by himself but uses the cloak of a sandstorm to start picking them off one by one. This leads to a dark cave where The Rock uses traps and quicksand to thin the herd.
Froemming: So, this movie rips off “First Blood?” Just in a desert and not in the woods.
Brown: At least these traps were less… Vietnam-y? I dunno man, I still think this part was kind of cool.
This leads to a 1v1 with Jason Newsted’s right-hand man, who we’ll call Kirk Hammett. The Rock subdues Kirk Hammett, but not before Kirk stabs The Rock in the leg with an arrow coated in scorpion venom.
The Rock is totally fine until he arrives back at camp. The Sorceress then proceeds to straddle The Rock and… sucks the poison out via magic? I dunno. She collapses immediately afterwards and I wrote in my notes “Did she just get off?”
Froemming: It was basically this.
After boning the poison out of The Rock, but also stealing his soul, The People’s Champ sends a message to Newsted that will haunt him even more than the fan’s reactions to “Load” and “Reload:” Kirk Hammet’s blood-stained pendant.
Newsted needs to keep his army calm, because if they know the Sorceress is missing, their morale will be low? I dunno, this seemed like an even dumber subplot than the rest so far in what is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. And I watched “SLC Punk 2.”
So Newsted has to lie to his men, much like how James and Lars lied to him when they recorded his basslines for the “And Justice…” album.
Again, why does it matter to these guys if the Sorceress is around or not. Isn’t Newsted supposed to be the greatest warrior ever?
Brown: He wasn’t even the best bassist in the history of his band. How is he supposed to be the greatest warrior?
Though, to be fair, Newsted knew when to get out. He wasn’t involved in “St. Anger.”
So The Rock and his motley crew run into the magician, who was fresh off the boat after going to the corners of the earth with the other so-called gods of our legends. Together, they get captured and brought to a village of rebels being run by Balthazar (Duncan). Because The Rock insulted Balthazar earlier in the movie, the two duke it out and The Rock spares his life. Now friends with a common goal of kicking Jason Newsted out of Metallica, the village parties.
Here, the Sorceress has a vision of the village being slaughtered because Jason Newsted needs her like Metallica needed Jagermeister in the ‘80s hayday of Alcoholica.
The Sorceress’s powers are extremely confusing. She gets this vision when a child hands her a date. So what, does the power of extremely sugary fruits set off her powers or is she triggered like Christopher Walken in “The Dead Zone?”
Froemming: She had a vision to change the course of history, much like Newsted in 2001 when he decided to leave Metallica because being insulted by a subpar musician like Lars for more than a decade is more than any man should take.
So she heads back to Newsted, basically to trick him with her powers into defeat. But Newsted is weary of this, and rightfully so. How did she escape The People’s Champ? Her story doesn’t add up, much like Metallica’s take on why Newsted left the band in 2001.
Brown: Also, the Sorceress takes The Rock’s camel back to Jason Newsted and the camel is immediately subservient to her because it can smell that she and The Rock had coitus? Camels really are smart!
And before she arrives back with Jason Newsted, someone in his army is all “Our morale will raise if we see the Sorceress.” What, so in order to go into battle, you have to give yourself thunderous erections because you’re ogling the witch whose always in a slave Leia outfit? That seems like a hindrance in battle.
Anyways, the Sorceress is back at Jason Newsted’s side but he senses a change in her. So he makes her play a carnival game where she has to guess which pots don’t have poisonous snakes in them.
And while THIS is going on, The Rock, Balthazar and warriors from the village are going with the Trojan Horse strategy for a preemptive strike.
And hey, let’s give this movie a little credit for having badass women warriors, what, 15 years before “Black Panther” was praised universally for doing the same thing.
The Sorceress reveals that she is now against Jason Newsted, much like how James Hetfield was against Jason Newsted for Echobrain. And after breaking through Jason Newsted’s forces, The Rock has come to take on the tyrant one on one.
Let’s cue up some battle music.
Froemming: And it is quite the unimpressive battle. Not since “Hero of the Day” has Newsted been involved with something so underwhelming. They fight, all right, but I dunno if it was the lack of hand-to-hand combat that we knew from The Rock, or the weird ass metal music that played randomly throughout the movie, but I was just angry watching at this point. And at some point, like in the Sorceress’ vision, The Rock gets struck by a Stone Cold Stunner…wait! An arrow! I was just thinking how I wished this movie would have gone.
Brown: There’s one point in the Rock/Newsted fight where the Sorceress gets knocked hard into a table and I legit thought to myself “Oh crap, did she just get ‘Million Dollar Baby’d?’”
Also, I laughed out loud when Jason Newsted pulled a Dale Gribble and used pocket sand to his advantage in a fight.
And then when The Rock gets shot in the back with an arrow, like in the Sorceress’s vision… yeah, no, Rock ain’t pulling that out and using the arrow. There is no way that man, with all his rippling muscles and body mass has been able to reach the middle of his back with his hands since grade school.
But alas, The Rock uses the arrow to hit Jason Newsted off a ledge at exactly the same time Arpid and the magician set off enough gunpowder to blow up the fortress. So, Jason Newsted got set on fire like he was James Hetfield over a pyro bomb in 1992.
So Metallica is without a bassist and The Rock is now the king for reasons.
Froemming: Not only that, they dub him The Scorpion King. Because of that one time scorpion venom was used to try and kill him? How does he become a giant CGI scorpion in “The Mummy 2.” What the hell did I just watch?
They have the (REDACTED) nerve to give us sequel bait too. The Sorceress tells him there will be many years of peace, but all good things come to an end. You’re right, The Rock would not star in any of the sequels, so it was good for both him and I to not have to endure that crap after this.
Brown, let’s ride our camels down to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: No. This movie was awful. Not even fun awful, it was grating.
Brown: We just crapped all over this movie but you know what? If you want to watch a stupid action movie, go for it. There’s worse out there.
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