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.