Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

Year: 2008
Director: Rob Cohen
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah, Luke Ford, Isabella Leong, Anthony Wong

When I first heard about this sequel, I had a nagging feeling that it was going to be bad. And it's odd how I'm almost always right about these things.

For those of you who have never heard of The Mummy franchise, it revolves around the adventures of the brave and dashing Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) as he battles ancient evil entities the same way Indiana Jones rides through his adventures. The first two films were not bad, it was fun, campy and it rarely takes itself too seriously. Though I have to admit, the second film had an overkill of CGI at the end which made The Rock look so fake.

In the last film, Rick had settled down with his wife Evie and they had a son named Alex. This film continues on from there. But first, as the previous two films began with a flashback sequence, this third instalment does the same. In ancient China, the ruthless Emperor (Jet Li) led a brutal campaign to rule his nation. Then he sought to become immortal and rule forever. For this, he acquired the skills of a witch, Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh). She does so, but when the Emperor learns that she has fallen for his loyal general Ming Guo (Russell Wong), he kills the latter. Zi Yuan responds by putting a curse on the Emperor and his army, turning them into stone statues similar to the terracotta warriors.

Cut to England in 1946, where Rick is happily enjoying his retirement and Evie (Maria Bello) is enjoying life writing romance novels based on her mummy adventures. The happy couple are asked by the local museum to return an ancient artifact to China, and they agree since they haven't much to do in their boring lifestyle anyway. Once in Shanghai, they meet up with Evie's brother Jonathan (John Hannah) and their son Alex (Luke Ford), who just so happens to have unearthed the Emperor's tomb. A Chinese general (Anthony Wong) who wishes to bring order to China by resurrecting the Emperor, forces the O'Connells to hand over the artifact they brought with them and bring the Emperor back. Thus begins another adventure as the Emperor awakens, and the O'Connells team up with Zi Yuan and her daughter Lin (Isabella Leong), both immortal, to stop him.

Director Rob Cohen (The Fast & The Furious) takes over from Stephen Sommers, and he throws in plenty of action sequences like a speed chase through Shanghai, human versus dead army fights, hand-to-hand combat and even the Abominable Snowman. Yeah, crazy stuff. But unlike the previous two instalments, the effort falls flat. Sure, the one-liners and action are well delivered, but it all seems forced. And I don't think it's fair to fault the cast, since they're all accomplished actors. It's the script and dialogue. Most of it sounds way too corny, making the actors' performances very bland indeed.

But I must say I'm impressed with Anthony Wong, who gives a good performance despite being given a role which doesn't do him justice. At the very least, he speaks very good English, unlike Jet Li, who thankfully doesn't have to say anything in English in this film. The rest of the cast are just barely trying to make their efforts stand out. And by the way, Bello doesn't quite fit the role of Evie, originally played by Rachel Weisz. Bello isn't a bad actress, but playing a British lady who kicks ass isn't quite her style.

Cohen also makes the same mistake Sommers did in the last film by overusing CGI. In this film, there are sequences that will remind you of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Van Helsing. Familiar, bad and not really necessary. At the end of it, I think this film wasn't necessary, just like the fourth Indiana Jones wasn't necessary. Though Spielberg and Lucas did a better job with their work.

Give this one a miss, and go back to the first Mummy film. Or Just go watch Indy. (3/5)

1 comment:

Little angel lost said...

I'm gonna watch this movie today, hehe. :)


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