The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption is quite possibly the best movie that you can watch. I can not remember a moviegoing experience as pleasurable as the time I sat through this movie, and that’s saying something. No, I don’t think it’s a perfect movie — there are a few moments early on that leave you a tad confused — but the experience as a whole overcomes any minor flaws one wants to bring up. And to think, this movie only cost $6 million to make. Imagine what director Roel Reiné could do if he was given a larger budget.
Anyway, we finally got a real sequel to The Scorpion King with this film. The second one, despite what the title indicated, was a prequel. This one takes place after the first movie, and shows us an older, more scruffy Mathayus (here played by Victor Webster). He has lost his kingdom — it’s not explained how or why — his princess has been killed, and he’s back working as a mercenary. He doesn’t even tell people that he’s the Scorpion King, as he’s ashamed — humbled, even. He is called into battle by King Horus (Ron Perlman), who tells him that he’ll get paid a bunch of money if he stalls an enemy for a while.
Mathayus accepts, although he’s joined on his journey by a brute named Olaf (Bostin Christopher), I assume because the king doesn’t trust Mathayus all that much. After a bonding fist fight, the two men become close friends, although they bicker back and forth throughout. It’s hilarious whenever Olaf opens his mouth, and you can tell that he’s not taking anything too seriously. He’s kind of like Gimli in that regard: He’s comic relief, but he’s also strong in battle.
Some big, epic battles happen soon after, although our two men don’t even get involved. They just kind of sneak around until the battles are almost over, and then they jump in at the last second and take credit. Eventually, they get a new quest — completely ignoring the last one, which was too confusing — to save a princess. And it’s here where Scorpion King 3 really picks up. See, the battles get larger and another group, called “Cobra,” which is made up of a bunch of ninjas, gets involved. And then … things and stuff happen, okay?
Look, I really don’t know what happened for most of the film. It’s all so overwhelming and to try to even set the stage is too difficult. There was even a scene with tigers, which seemed like it was building to something great, but then the two main guys just run away. Elephants are involved in a bunch of the battles, there’s a scene when ninjas run up a waterfall — for no discernible reason — and eventually the Book of the Dead from The Mummy gets used to resurrect a trio of ghosts (Selina Lo, Kimbo Slice and Dave Batista) to join the fray.
This movie is jam-packed with everything that you want to see in a cheesy action movie. Nothing is taken seriously, and everyone has a good time because of it. Just watch Billy Zane ham it up as the main villain. And I actually kind of enjoyed Victor Webster in The Rock’s role as the Scorpion King, even though he never really looked older than his wrestling counterpart. And many of the action scenes aren’t even quick-cut, allowing you to actually see what’s going on.
You might not like the color palette, which seemed as if the desaturation tool was on constantly. The whole film is really washed out, although it is somewhat stylish in its creation. There aren’t that many special effects throughout, which is good considering the film’s budget, and the few times in which they’re required, they look serviceable. The Scorpion King 3 does have a unique look, and at least doesn’t look as cheap as its predecessor did.
I was very confused at the beginning, which is about the biggest problem that one can have with this film. The direction that it was taken seemed to be one of non-direction. It felt as if it would just meander around for the entire running time, while also introducing a bunch of loosely connected elements that seem to be part of a larger picture. But it eventually gets focused and ties everything together quite nicely. Mathayus really is just a mercenary in this, even if he does eventually pick a side.
Actually, I forgot about the biggest problem that Battle For Redemption has: Its ending. It ends on a cliffhanger, which is just so disappointing considering there very well might not be another Scorpion King. I was so into this one that I wanted a definite finale, but what I got was a promise that might never come to pass. It’s possible that a better ending was thought of but the filmmakers ran out of time or money, and if that’s the case, I feel worse for them than for myself. One final battle might have pushed this film into Best Ever territory.
The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption is about as much fun as you can have watching a motion picture. It suffers from a multitude of confusing plotting points, but apart from that, everything works perfectly. It’s lighthearted enough to not take seriously, but competently put together and stylishly crafted as well, leading you to believe that there’s some skill behind the camera. And it’s super fun. Now if only we can get this crew a slightly larger budget and filming schedule, we’ll have a true masterpiece with Scorpion King 4.