The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power

The movie I was most looking forward to in 2015 was The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power. The third film in the franchise was objectively and literally the best movie to ever grace my eyeballs, and while it would have been nearly impossible to eclipse it, my hope was that another journey with Mathayus, played by the same actor for the first time in the franchise — Victor Webster — would be a good time. It’s with tears rolling down my cheeks that I report to you that it is not.

It gets off to such a promising start, too. Mathayus (Webster) has gotten himself a new partner, Drazen (Will Kemp), and together they’ve gone off to retrieve some sort of MacGuffin for King Zakour (Rutger Hauer). To do so, they have to fight off an army of guards, dance (literally) around traps, and defeat Skizurra (Lou Ferrigno). That’s right: The Scorpion King himself fights Lou Ferrigno! And that’s early on. The tone is light — which remains throughout — and I had a huge smile on my face. Sure, the action was incredibly choppy, but Mathayus was back and the film was enjoyable.

A double-crossing from Drazen, a new partner in the form of Valina (Ellen Hollman), and a new quest later, and the fun leaves the film. No, it never gets anywhere close to as drab and dull as the second film, but it’s not even as enjoyable as the first one. At least this one has some decent action and a few laughs. Well, maybe two scenes of semi-decent action. What are you expecting? It’s the fourth film in a franchise that’s been going direct-to-DVD for the last three installments. We got incredibly lucky with the third one; everything stacked up in its favor and came together perfectly. It will never happen again.

I’m so stunned that I don’t even know where to progress from here. I want to gush more about The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, but I know that you don’t want to read me do that again. But this film is so completely mediocre that there isn’t really much to talk about. Yeah, it’s a dumb low-budget action-comedy. They’re a dime a dozen.

Well, I suppose we can talk about the action, which often involves our heroes running away from the bad guys, or fighting them with swords in scenes that have been shot too close to the participants and edited so that we struggle to tell who is where. About the only good action scene in the film, from a technical level, is the one in which Valina fights a character played by Eve Torres in an MMA-style ring. And it’s too silly — it winds up being a like a WWE match, in large part because Torres was a WWE Diva at one point — to take seriously.

But, then, the film doesn’t want to be taken seriously. It tries incredibly hard to get us to laugh. The jokes aren’t organic and the laughs don’t come naturally; it all feels forced. Some of the jokes do succeed, and a couple of the one-liners and situations are clever, but this isn’t the laugh-a-minute ride it hopes to be. I could compare it to its direct predecessor but it doesn’t even deserve that honor. It can’t hold a candle to The Scorpion King 3.

Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that the only truly returning element here is Victor Webster as Mathayus. We’ve got an entirely different cast outside of him — and no explanation as to why nobody else returned — and a different crew behind the scenes as well. Webster isn’t the problem here. The direction, editing, script, and secondary cast is. Oh, and the hype it couldn’t live up to because of how good the last film was. It’s a mediocre film on its own but an aberration compared to the third Scorpion King.

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power is an utter disappointment, but then it probably had to be. It couldn’t live up to its direct predecessor. It doesn’t have the charm, the technical prowess, the cinematography, the editing, the script, or the chemistry between its stars that the last one did. Its action is poorly constructed, its jokes feel forced, and its story is dull. It’s not horrible, but it’s a mediocre-at-best movie that had the misfortune of following the greatest film ever created.

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