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The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

Perhaps the very first made-for-vid prequel to a spinoff from a sequel to a remake, "The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior" suggests a CW television network version of a swords-and-sorcery saga.

Cast:
With: Michael Copon, Karen David, Simon Quarterman, Tom Wu, Andreas Wisniewski, Natalie Becker, Randy Couture.

Perhaps the very first made-for-vid prequel to a spinoff from a sequel to a remake, “The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” suggests a CW television network version of a swords-and-sorcery saga. Hunky young Michael Copon (TV’s “One Tree Hill”) gamely subs for Dwayne (formerly “the Rock”) Johnson in the title role of Mathayus, a character introduced as a supernatural villain in “The Mummy Returns” (2001) but repurposed as a strapping hero in “The Scorpion King” (2002). Overall, though, the vidpic is a routine actioner best suited for undiscriminating genre fans.

Mathayus is rendered here as a callow combatant bent on avenging his father’s murder at the hands of Sargon (former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight Randy Couture), a burly badass who usurps the throne in an ancient Egyptian kingdom.

With the help of feisty femme Layla (Karen David, who looks as if she stepped out of a Frank Frazetta illustration for a “Conan the Barbarian” paperback), the future Scorpion King journeys to the underworld for a potent weapon — no less than the Sword of Damocles — to use against Sargon’s dark magic. But the seductive sorceress Astarte (Natalie Becker, not quite campy enough) isn’t too keen on giving up the enchanted blade.

Vet helmer Russell Mulcahy (“Resident Evil: Extinction”) stages a couple mildly impressive fight scenes, and makes the most of production values that are several notches above the vidpic norm. But Copon and David, though undeniably attractive, evidence minimal star power, which may explain why niche-celeb Couture figures so much more prominently on the DVD packaging.

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

Direct-to-Video

Production: A Universal Home Entertainment release of a Universal Home Entertainment Prods. presentation of an Alphaville/Misher Films production, in association with Film Afrika and ApolloMovie Beteiligungs. Produced by James Jacks, Sean Daniels. Executive producer, Kevin Misher. Co-producers, Jorg Westerkamp, Thomas Becker, David Wicht. Directed by Russell Mulcahy. Screenplay, Randall McCormick.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Glynn Speeckaert; editor, John Gilbert; music, Klaus Badelt; production designer, Tom Hannam; art directors, Christophe Dalberg, Jonathan Hely-Hutchinson; costume designer, Diana Cilliers; sound (Dolby Digital) Conrad Kuhne; assistant director, Leigh Tanchel; casting, Jeremy Zimmerman, Manuel Puro. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Aug. 20, 2008. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 109 MIN.

With: With: Michael Copon, Karen David, Simon Quarterman, Tom Wu, Andreas Wisniewski, Natalie Becker, Randy Couture.

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