Film: The Scorpion King

A Spin-Off/Prequel to The Mummy Trilogy.

It's the year 5000 BC - or thereabouts. The anachronistic Greek general Memnon is out to, you guessed it, take over the world. Which consists of African tribesmen, Amazons and the City of Gomorrah in improbably close conjunction. The leaders of the Free Peoples, including the chiefs of the aforesaid Africans and Amazons, hire the 'last of the Akkadians' a race of deadly assassins, (which would come as a surprise to Sargon of Akkadia) to kill not Memnon, but the evil sorcerer whose magic and prophecies are the ultimate source of his success.

The film also spawned three direct-to-video prequels/sequels. The second film, subtitled Rise of a Warrior, is a prequel showing how Mathyus became the badass he is at the start of the first film, as well as his quest to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at the hands of the evil sorcerer king Sargon. It also started off the sequels' tradition of having one Designated Girl Fight per film between the Action Girl female lead and a token Dark Action Girl.

The third film, subtitled Battle for Redemption, is a straight sequel to the first film, revealing that Mathyus eventually fell from kinghood after a terrible tragedy and returned to his old life as a mercenary. However, his current mission to help a beautiful princess save her kingdom from the evil warlord Talus offers him a chance for redemption for what he sees as his past failings as a king.

The fourth film, subtitled appears to be set at an indeterminate point between the first and third films (i.e. after Mathyus lost his throne but before the events of the third film), has Mathyus betrayed by his apprentice Drazen, a power-hungry prince who used him to steal a relic that could lead to unimaginable power. Mathyus now finds himself in a race against time to beat his former friend to the power he craves, aided by the members of the royal family Drazen's father overthrew to become a king.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The sorceress, despite clearly not being an actual trained fighter, still isn't afraid to pick up a sword and either defend herself or others... and isn't bad at it for an amateur, either.
    • Also Queen Isis and her Amazons.
    • Layla from the second film is an action girl too.
    • As is Silda in the third movie and Valina in the fourth. The series likes its leading ladies to kick ass.
  • Anachronism Stew
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Memnon's eventual plan for the Sorceress once he no longer needs her visions.
    • Talus pulls this on Princess Silda in the third film, though he insists on having the wedding night before the actual ceremony. Silda stalls until Mathyus gets there to bail her out.
  • Arrow Catch: Memnon's favorite trick.
  • Arrows on Fire: Two words: "Catch this."
  • Artistic License Biology: The poisoned arrow Mathayus was stabbed with would not have been much of a threat (well, aside from the whole getting stabbed thing), since the type of scorpion the venom was taken from, an emperor scorpion, chosen because they are huge and look creepy, is actually only slightly more dangerous to something the size of a human than a bee. With scorpions, the bigger they are, the less dangerous their venom, since they will use their claws to kill prey and their size to frighten off predators. Mathayus would have been in much greater danger from dying from blood loss or infection than from the venom.
  • Artistic License History: So apparently Viking warriors are well known for having blood feuds with assassins from Akkadia before the pyramids were built. Also, Greek warlords apparently regularly commandeer what appears to be Babylonian warriors so they can base their capital cities in modern day Iraq. Also, those iron swords sure look nice in 5000 BC.
    • If it was 5000 BC; The Mummy Returns tells us that the Scorpion King lived around 3000 BC, and archeology informs us that King Scorpion (Surprise! Yep, there really was such a guy) preceded Menes, the first Pharaoh of united Egypt, around 3100 BC.
    • One of those, at least, is justified. A Greek is commanding Babylonians for the same reason why an Akkadian is commanding them by the end; because the Babylonians religiously adhere to Asskicking Equals Authority, as stated in the intro sequence. That probably isn't historically accurate either, but then in narrative terms they aren't actually Babylonians, just a made-up Proud Warrior Race.
    • Memnon was the name of an Egyptian king, not... wherever Memnon was supposed to be from.
    • Good thing no one remembered that magic black powder or how effective it was.
  • Artistic License Physics: If the first five minutes of The Scorpion King do not have you in tears of laughter, you're part of a tough crowd. To clarify, Mathayus shoots three mooks (at the same time) with three arrows shot (at the same time) from his bow. The center mook is sent flying, flipping head over heels for at least 15 meters, smashes through the wall, and KEEPS flying for another 10 meters. Though, they did manage to make it out so that it takes a really strong guy to string a really strong bow to shoot really strong arrows.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: It is mentioned early on by the narrator that the reason Memnon is the king of his empire is because he is the army's most skilled warrior. After Mathayus defeats and kills Memnon in the climax, he is automatically hailed as the new king.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Mathayus and Balthazar.
  • Bad Boss: Thorak, discovering two of his Mooks have failed to stop Mathayus from leaping out the window, yells at them to "go after him" and tosses them out the window. About five stories up. Mathayus lands on a series of wicker screens that break his fall; the guards land on the roof tiles on either side and die.
  • Badass Boast: 'Who dies first?'
  • Badass Creed: "Live Free. Die Well."
  • Bare Your Midriff: The Sorceress, of course.
    • Layla, Silda, and Valina, the love interests in the later three films, are this as well. Really, most of the women who appear in the films show off this trope.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: One hopes Memnon has fire insurance. But it wouldn't help. He was the one who set his palace on fire. They'd figure he was just trying to get the money by torching his place.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Mathayus. King? He just wants the guy who killed his brother.
  • Bible Punk: The historical Akkadian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Sumerian, Hittite and Babylonian tribes are all mentioned. Additionally, Matthias visits the city of Gomorrah.
  • Black Vikings: the racial makeup of the cast is, shall we say, a bit odd for Ancient Egypt, what with the half-Samoan The Rock playing an Akkaddian (Of course, the film's Akkadians seem to have virtually nothing in common with the actual Akkadians; perhaps in the Mummyverse the Akkadians were Polynesian?) and Kelly Hu (a mix of English, Chinese, and Native Hawaiian)playing a character with the Greek name of Cassandra.
  • Blown Across the Room: Given how far back Mooks fly when hit by Mathayus' arrows, one would imagine his bow has the Punch II enchantment on it.
  • California Doubling: More like Arizona Doubling, since unlike the Mummy movies Universal never left the States for The Scorpion King.
  • Can't Bathe Without a Weapon: The Sorceress is prepared for surprises while bathing.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: After kidnapping the Sorceress, Mathayus plans to use her to bait Memnon to him and avenge his brother's death.
    Sorceress: "So you're going to use me first, and then kill me. I feel so much better."
    Mathayus: "I could always do it the other way around and kill you first."
  • Combat Pragmatist: Mathayus uses the arrow sticking out of his back to take out Memnon.
  • Continuity Nod: Memnon's mooks wear the same red turbans (down to the metal logos) as Imhotep's mooks in The Mummy Returns.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: This happens in The Scorpion King movie. Unlike other examples, the girls steal the protagonist's weapons away while he's not looking.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Having your naked head devoured by fire ants.
  • Dark Action Girl: Astarte in Rise of a Warrior (played with in that she's also a goddess with immense magical powers), Tsukai in Road to Redemption, and Chancara in Quest For Power. Each one mostly seems included in order to have a Designated Girl Fight fight with the female lead.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Philos. There'd be more, but every other character falls down on the "deadpan" bit.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: You just know when Balthazar and Mathayus break their swords on each other they are going to end up as friends.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Each sequel has one: Layla vs. Astarte in Rise of A Warrior, Silda vs. Tsukai in Battle For Redemption, and Valina vs. Chancara in Quest For Power.
  • Evil Overlord: Memnon.
    • Appears to be a requirement to be the Big Bad, since the main villains of the other three films are also this.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Several times. Memnon should consider floor lighting.
  • Flaming Sword: Rule of Cool is in full effect when Memnon runs his swords through an oil torch to light them on fire.
  • Genre Savvy: Arpid saves Mathayus on the "promise" he will share the spoil of his "adventures". Mathayus is completely confused by this, since he just sees himself as a assassin begging for his life on the verge of death, not an epic hero, but he says yes to survive.
  • Godiva Hair: The sorceress of course, when Mathayus surprises her in her bath.
  • Groin Attack: Near the end of the first movie, the Sorceress battles against one of Memnon's mooks from inside the palace and during the ensuring battle, she throws a quick knee towards his groin, making him yelp out in pain.
  • Happily Ever Before: The only hint of the events that happen to the main character in The Mummy Returns is the sorceress saying "Nothing lasts forever." Other than that, the ending is pretty cheery. Stephen Sommers, the writer and director of The Mummy Returns has said that he considers the Scorpion King in his film to be an Identical Grandson of Mathayus, who Sommers felt was too heroic to turn into the bloodthirsty character seen in The Mummy Returns.
    • The third film makes the first one this, as it reveals the kingdom was all but wiped out by a plague, with Cassandra numbering among the dead. The event caused Mathyus to give up his crown and return to life as a mercenary.
  • Historical-Domain Character
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: "No one goes into The Valley of the Dead! That's why they call it the Valley of the Dead!"
  • Kick the Dog: Memnon, constantly. Between that and the massive clutching of the Villain Ball, he's quite the quintessential action movie overlord.
    • The villains in the later films act the same way. Again, seems to be a requirement.
  • Last of His Kind: Mathayus again. The Akkadians are apparently wonderful assassins, but very bad at self preservation.
  • Large Ham: Billy Zane in Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption does what he does best and makes the whole experience very enjoyable.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Balthazar is needlessly antagonistic to people who are on his side - even taking into account that he doesn't trust Mathayus. So, naturally, he and Mathayus end up fighting in a situation that probably could've been easily avoided.
  • Mook Horror Show: The sandstorm sequence.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Every single woman in the movie. But, as the biggest example, the Sorceress.
    • Same with the sequels, with the biggest examples per film being, in order: Astarte, Silda, Valina.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The men too, all that bare muscle....
    • Mathyus. In all four movies.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Both films - the first for The Rock (who was beginning to make a name for himself in Hollywood at the time), and the second for Randy Couture.
    • The third film for Dave Batista and Kimbo Slice (as Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson).
    • Seems averted by the fourth film, though.
  • No Name Given: Many of the characters names are never spoken during the film, but they are all listed in the credits. All accept the street urchin boy who Mathayus befriends.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Mathayus gets an arrow in his back during the final battle. Then, he takes it off, defeats the Big Bad and everyone (even him) forgets he was even wounded.
  • Prequel: The first movie was a prequel to the Mummy series, while The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior is a prequel to the first movie. Younger cast, Direct-to-Video, no actors of note, and a really reduced budget. More specifically, ''Rise of the Warrior'' is a Prequel to a Prequel of a Sequel of a Re-make of an 80-year-old film.
    • Fortunately, the third and fourth film are straight sequels to the first Scorpion King, reducing the confusion....somewhat
  • Prophecy Twist: The sorceress see Mathayus being hit by an arrow and presumably dying...But then, when it happens, he pulls the arrow out of his back and uses it on Menmon.
  • Rated M for Manly: The whole damn first movie, from arrows that strike people back at an impossible distance being fired from a bow that only the incredibly manly protagonist can use, to the same incredibly manly protagonist taking an arrow from his back to fire it at the Big Bad. Did we mention when The Rock and Michael Clark Duncan cross their swords and end up cutting the swords themselves, at the same time?
  • Red Shirt Army: More like red scarf army.
  • Rule of Cool: Mixed with Rated M for Manly, see above.
  • Russian Roulette: A variation. Memnon puts six pots on a rotating table, loads poisonous snakes into four of them, places lids on the jars, and then spins the table. He does so to make sure the sorceress still has her powers. She guesses right the first time, changes her mind on the second and instead uses her powers to get the snake to attack him.
  • Samus is a Girl: Memnon's sorcerer (assumed to be male before The Reveal) is actually a sorceress. In the Latin American dub, they made it look like it was an old lady.
    • Done again in the third film: the rebel leader Cobra is really Princess Silda.
  • Schizo Tech: Mostly thanks to Philos.
  • Scary Black Man: Michael Clarke Duncan, who else? He's a good guy, though.
  • Screw Destiny: The sorceress tells Matthias that he's destined to fall at the hands of Memnon. He just tells her he'll make his own destiny, thank you very much.
  • Sequel: Believe it or not, The Scorpion King 3 is actually the sequel to The Scorpion King (while the Scorpion King 2 was its prequel).
  • Serial Escalation: Mathayus shoots three guys with arrows from his bow (fired all at once, of course). Not only do all three go flying, one actually hurtles backwards, smashes through the roof, and keeps going on an upward trajectory until he's out of frame. And that's in the first two minutes of the movie.
  • Shout-Out: The scene where Mathayus cuts the huge gong loose and takes shelter behind it as it rolls away is straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, aside from the guards firing arrows instead of bullets at him.
  • The Smart Guy: Philos. His profession is magician, but that "magic black powder" clearly is not.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: What says 5000 BC better than... hard driving rock'n'roll accompanying a big-ass choir and orchestra?
  • Sword And Sandal
  • Taking the Bullet: The Sorceress was about to take an arrow for Mathayus but as she grabbed him, he turned around and took the arrow for her.
  • Virgin Power: Subverted. Seems that sorceresses just tell their masters this so they'll keep their hands to themselves.
    • Played straight in the novelization, where narration from her POV after sleeping with Mathyus reveals that she genuinely did lose her power. Her actions in the cobra roulette thus become a combination of quick thinking and blind luck, and her "predictions" at the end of the story become more like ironic jokes.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Memnon, in comparison to Mathayus. He is faster (and a dual-wielder) but not nearly as big or strong.
    • Whereas Billy Zane's Talus in the third movie subverts this, being just plain weak.
  • White Stallion: Amusingly subverted: Mathayus's well-trained, heroic steed is a pure white camel.
  • Wife Husbandry: The sorceress states that Memnon has held her captive since he was a child, and Memnon says that he intends to have her become his lover once his victories are complete.
  • You Killed My Brother
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Averted: Mathayus gives his word that he won't kill Horse-Thief and will obey his commands in exchange for Horse-Thief saving him from ants (it makes sense in context). Afterwards, Mathayus uses the camel and essentially forces Horse-Thief to walk, causing him to protest that they had a deal, and Mathayus tells him that he's upholding the deal, as he is not going to kill him... at least, he won't kill him yet.
  • Zerg Rush: How Memnon's men were planning to take out Mathayus and his allies in the climax.