Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Go To

"The curse must never be lifted... or the Emperor will rise again, to enslave all of man-kind. On that dark day, there will be nothing and no one, to save us."
Zi Yuan

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is the 2008 sequel to The Mummy Returns and the final entry in The Mummy Trilogy. The film is directed by Rob Cohen, with the screenplay by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. It was released on August 1, 2008.

In Ancient China, the tyrannical Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) united the kingdoms under his rule after he acquired magical powers. After betraying Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh), the woman who helped him, he is sealed away, seemingly for good. In 1946, Rick and Evelyn O'Connell (Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello) and their son Alex (Luke Ford) go on an archeological survey in Shanghai when two members of a rogue military faction release the Emperor to use him to reunite the wartorn country by any means necessary.

The film also stars John Hannah as Jonathan Carnahan, Russell Wong as General Ming Guo, Anthony Wong as General Yang, Liam Cunningham as Mad Dog Maguire and Isabella Leong as Lin.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese dub of The Dragon Emperor uses "Memories" by Manami Kurose as its image song.
  • Annoying Arrows: A Rain of Arrows is fired at the undead army. They spend a couple minutes pulling them out then get back to the fighting.
  • Anti-Villain: The Dragon Emperor's living minions Yang and Choi. Their country has been locked in a vicious civil war for years, and it seems like the only man who can unite China is the one who did it in the first place. Made especially so by their very heroic deaths: Choi trying to pull Yang out of machinery while he yells at her to save herself.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Evy and Rick, first with rifles, then pistols, then swiped swords, until eventually they're exhausted, leaning back to back to keep each other standing up.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Zi Yuan manages to catch the Emperor's sword thrust. She then lets go and sacrifices herself to grab the cursed dagger from the Emperor's belt.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jonathan arrives at the final battle to take on the Emperor's terracotta army with a pair of World War II planes.
    Evy: Jonathan certainly knows how to make an entrance.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Lin summons a small army of Yetis to aid the heroes.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Terracotta warriors versus a skeleton army.
  • Continuity Nod: In the final battle against the Emperor, Alex draws a divide symbol on the sand ground for Rick to remember his "divide and conquer" strategy. This links back to The Mummy Returns, where a kidnapped Alex constantly made sand sculptures as signals for Rick and Evy to find him.
  • Death by Cameo: One of the three assassins killed by the Emperor in the flashback scene (the third, who got a knife through the throat) is Wu Jing, then a rising star in the film industry. Regrettably, this is the closest Wu Jing would get to fighting Jet Li.
  • Disappeared Dad: Lin wasn't able to know Ming as the Emperor killed him before she was born. They briefly meet in the final battle before his undead form crumbles back to dust.
  • Elemental Powers: The Emperor, and they make sure to establish that he uses the Chinese, rather than Western, elements.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Rick to Alex.
    Rick: Alexander Rupert O'Connell, you get on the back of this horse, this instant!
  • Genre Blindness: Jonathan shouldn't have openly stated he was moving to Peru because there were no mummies there.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The Emperor killed Ming in jealousy after Zi Yuan chose him.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: A bisected soldier is briefly seen crawling after Rick in the final fight.
  • Here We Go Again!: Rick invokes the trope to the letter when the Emperor comes back to life.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Zi Yuan (who had already sacrificed her immortality to raise General Ming's army) allows the Emperor to mortally wound her with his sword in order to get back the dagger that can kill him.
    • Also when Han throws a sword at Alex while his back is turned, only for Rick to push Alex out of the way and as a result Rick is mortally wounded by the sword instead of his son.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Inevitably, owing to being released a good seven years after the first two movies leads to some of these:
    • Evie has been Darrin-ed from Rachel Weisz to Maria Bello, for starters.
    • The absence of Imhotep, Ardeth Bay, the Medjai in general and change in setting from Egyptian myths to Chinese ones, the only references to Egypt being a few statues seen in Rick's house at the start and outfits of the dancers in Shanghai's Club Imhotep later on. The (discarded) Sequel Hook suggest that should a fourth movie be made, it will follow this new template by setting the next installment in Peru.
    • The film's Big Bad doesn't have any past connections to the O'Connells. In comparison, Evelyn turns out to be reincarnated from the Pharaoh's daughter and witnessed her father being killed by the first villain Imhotep in her past life, while Rick is descended from warriors fated to kill the Scorpion King. The only connection Alex O'Connell has with the titular Emperor is uncovering the tomb.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When we meet Maria Bello as Evy, she refers to a character in her novel based on her and Rick's adventures as being "a completely different person."
  • Lighter and Softer: This film has less emphasis on horror than the previous two films.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Lin drop-kicks one of Yang's mooks before a Yeti kicks him in the butt and sends him flying.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Alex and the 2,000-year-old Lin fall in love. She later has to give up her immortality, enabling her to spend her life with him.
  • Narrator: This time around, Freda Foh Shen narrates the film's opening.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The counter-undead raised to fight the Dragon Emperor.
  • Observation on Originality: The film merrily hits every action/adventure movie trope right on the mark. Nothing in the movie is a surprise, but it's not a bad film for it.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Roger Wilson ends up killed by the Dragon Emperor not long after the latter's resurrection, thanks to Gen. Yang failing to mention him as an ally of theirs, Wilson not speaking Chinese, and the fighting going on between them and the O'Connells.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Rick says "Now you can rule... in hell." seconds before the Dragon Emperor explodes.
  • Pretty in Mink: There are a few fox wraps, in addition to the winter coats in the mountains.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Rick when gunning down the Emperor's troops at the Great Wall.
    Rick: I! [bang!] Really! [bang!] Hate! [bang!] Mummies! [bang!]
  • Putting on the Reich: Yang sports a Nazi-style uniform. See Shown Their Work below.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Lin, who's over 2,000 years old, having received an immortal life from her mother.
  • Rain of Arrows: Fittingly used by the terracotta army, but they abandoned the strategy when they remembered their opponents were undead.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: No more Egypt, it's China this time around.
  • Sequel Hook: The movie ends with Jonathan resolving to move to Peru. As he drives off, Mummies were later discovered in Peru appears on the screen. Though considering the timing and that no further movies have been made, this may just have been reinforcing Jonathan's status as the Butt-Monkey.
  • Shout-Out: Jonathan runs a nightclub themed off his, Evy, and Rick's adventures against the (previous) Mummy. Abbott and Costello did similar.
  • Shown Their Work: Several points in the film.
    • The British government agent warns the O'Connells that post-war China is a very dangerous place. This is true because right after Japan's defeat in World War II, the Communists and the Nationalists resumed their fighting in 1946, reigniting the Chinese Civil War. Additionally, there were warlords around the Chinese countryside. The film takes place in 1946-1947, which would make complete sense.
    • Yang, the rogue KMT officer, sports a Nazi-style uniform. The Third Reich did supply the Nationalist Chinese with German-made weapons, equipment, and uniforms from 1938-1941, in what is now known at the Sino-German Cooperation.
    • Though it looks like a throwaway joke, there really are mummies in Peru (see the Chinchorro mummies). However, they were discovered about thirty years before the setting of this film.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Zi Yuan was apparently pregnant by Ming when the Emperor killed him, and transmitted immortality to their daughter Lin. Thus they were briefly able to see each other two thousand years later in the final battle.
  • Spanner in the Works: The people who sealed the Emperor away put his mummy in a statue, the idea being that anyone who tries to raise him would instead raise a eunuch, which was in the coffin as decoy. This plan almost works... till the mummy raising water is accidentally splashed on the emperor's statue.
  • Staircase Tumble: While Alex fights one of Yang's mooks near the entrance to Shangri-La, a Yeti grabs said mook and sends him tumbling down the stairs.
  • Taken for Granite: Probably the most horrific origin story of the Terracotta Warriors ever conceived. Explains why every face is unique...
  • Tear Off Your Face: The Emperor's terracotta face frequently cracks and falls off, only to rebuild itself. At one point he rips it off deliberately and hurls the resulting death mask as a weapon.
  • Tempting Fate: Jonathan states that he's moving to Peru after selling his bar to a Russian pilot, and states that at least that place doesn't have mummies. A narrative quote then appears stating that after his arrival, mummies were discovered in Peru.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The Dragon Emperor throwing his sword at Rick. Although being able to make it fly around on a whim it probably helped.
  • Use Your Head: Since the Emperor's fighting skills surpass his, Rick has to play a little more creative by delivering two headbutts on him in order to stagger him, allowing him to follow up with several more blows.
  • Villain Ball:
    • The villains make sure that the O'Connells are the ones to deliver the Eye of Shangri-la to the museum. No reason is really given for this, they get Evey to translate the writing on it but Ancient Chinese isn't her specialty so why they would need her specifically is still unclear.
    • The Dragon Emperor himself does this 2000 years earlier, killing General Ming out of jealousy, and thinking Zi Yuan, a powerful witch, wouldn't take any vengeance on him.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Yang and Choi. They resurrected the Dragon Emperor only so they could end China's civil war.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Lin, once she realizes that she's in love with Alex. Her mother took care of that problem.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The O'Connells' efforts to try and stop the Emperor from entering Shangri-La turn out to be for naught when he follows the heroes to Shangri-La and finally regains his human form.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Mummy Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor


The Dragon Emperor

Zi Yuan grants the titular Dragon Emperor Qin Shi Huang turning him to stone.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TakenForGranite

Media sources: