Funny that a movie that went straight to Blu-Ray/DVD also went straight into my trash can after viewing. Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption is the sequel (not a prequel, like Scorpion King 2) to the original Scorpion King which starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his first lead role. As a teenager, I actually enjoyed the first installment, as it was a thrill to see my favorite wrestler testing out his acting chops on a bigger stage. Unfortunately, there’s little thrill in watching TV actor Victor Webster, who gets the gig as 2012’s scorpion king Mathayus.
Since we last saw him, Mathayus has failed to protect his kingdom and the queen. Filled with the pitiful and overused “I can never forgive myself” character arc, Mathayus returns to being an assassin, with his only motivations being riches and salvation. He is contracted by King Horus (Ron Pearlman) to protect the Book of the Dead from Horus’ worthless evil brother, King Talus (Billy Zane).
Remember when Zane had a supporting role in Titanic, and Pearlman did a worthy job playing a heavy in Drive? Battle for Redemption will make you forget. Pearlman in particular is reaching Nicolas Cage levels of desperation, seemingly taking any offer thrown his way. Sometimes it’s alright to decline, Ron.
Mathayus is unwillingly teamed up with Horus’ best warrior, a gassy beer-bellied fool named Olaf (Bostin Christopher). Olaf serves as the comedic relief here, although he is more offensive than funny. Despite the pair’s attempts at keeping the Book of the Dead away from Talus and maintaining peace between the two kingdoms, war breaks out and Talus ultimately comes in possession of the book. Battle for Redemption then becomes a battle to fend off the evil (but not all that impressive) dead warriors that Talus uses the book to summon.
A positive here is the emergence of Princess Silda (Krystal Vee), who is nice to look at among the heathens and battles and standard bad movie tropes. The princess, who at first seems to need saving by Mathayus and Olaf (in a separate storyline that inevitably merges with the main one in a way that almost makes sense), proves to have some fighting skills of her own.
It’s one thing that the characters are hollow, the storyline is muddled and the acting makes me reconsider writing these reviews to pursue a career in Hollywood. But the biggest problem with Battle for Redemption is that the battle scenes make up for none of these flaws. Instead, they resemble nothing so much as a group of LARPing middle school students battling for Middle Earth.
Additionally, these scenes are edited together as if they were the trailer for the film, playing to a score that is actually quite epic. To bad the music is buried underneath the mess made by the filmmakers. It came as no surprise when director Roel Reiné (Death Race 2) revealed in his extra features commentary that Battle for Redemption was limited to 25 days of filming and a budget of no more than five figures. It shows.
Truth time: If you enjoy this movie enough to buy it (I promise not to judge), then you might as well go with the Blu-Ray edition. Included are the usual deleted/extended scenes, a photo montage, a not-particularly funny gag reel, a making-of documentary (as well as a featurette solely about the fight sequences) and a version of the film with Reiné’s commentary. If you’re into seeing what goes on behind the scenes when making a film, I suppose Battle for Redemption delivers — though more as a case study in what not to do.
Battle for Redemption is strictly at your own risk entertainment. At one point Olaf gripes to Mathayus that he has spent his time, “in a war that interests me about as much as camel dung and the desert.” Funny, I was thinking the same thing about Scorpion King 3.