Starring: Zach McGowan, Nathan Jones, Peter Mensah, Pearl Thusi
Written by David Alton Hedges, Frank DeJohn
Directed by: Don Michael Paul
IMDb ranking & storyline: 4.6/10
The Scorpion King teams up with a female warrior named Tala, who is the sister of The Nubian King. Together they search for a legendary relic known as The Book of Souls, which will allow them to put an end to an evil warlord.
I wanted to review this movie for two reasons, 1) I’ve interviewed the writer David for The Mighty Dragon and got to see his epic Instagram behind-the-scenes journey of this movie from South Africa and 2) I’ve read David and Frank’s script, Legion, which they won the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting – this still remains one of the best scripts I’ve read off page and wanted to see if there were any similarities with characters/tone from what I could see on screen from this movie.
This was the first Scorpion King film that I’ve seen so went into it with fresh eyes. Peter Mensah (Nebserek) is an incredible actor (300, Spartacus, Avatar), so was looking forward to seeing his performance in this movie as the nemesis of the Scorpion King.
From the outset we establish that the Vader-sounding Nebserek will NOT be using the powers he obtained from the capture of a sacred dagger for any good – we learn that him and his gang have brutally wiped out most of his enemies, excluding one, the Scorpion King in which he instructs his mob to seize.
Here we are introduced to the Scorpion King – a very ripped Zach McGowan – now a humble blacksmith and all round good guy. A hard worker, he bestows wisdom to a local child who he has befriended. You know it won’t be long till the mob turn up to cause havoc – and they do!
This is one of the rare films where I actually liked the mobs and gangs – the acting was excellent. Some of the best scenes, visually, were with the mobs/gangs. The gangs had real character and were, dare I say it, likable!
I thought it interesting that Khensa (Mayling Ng) had a Scouse accent in the desert – being a fan of a mish-mash of accents in films (established firmly by Charlie and the Chocolate factory), thought this gave the feel to the movie something else. Khensa demands in a deep voice ‘Where is Matthias’ – well Matthias is actually taking arrows into his body in the village confrontation but can’t save his young friend as he is killed by Khensa and taken prisoner.
A mysterious, beautiful lady releases him, Tala (Pearl Thusi) – she performs a ritual on him, regenerating him, and we learn that they have some shared history. As the daughter of a fallen leader once known to the Scorpion King, she now needs his help “the people need a hero to bring peace”. She also vows to fight by his side to seek revenge on the ‘owner of the dagger’.
As you know I am a big fan of bad women in films and the one I like most in this film was the psychic, hawk owning accomplice to Nebserek, I thought she was quite calculated and devious (in a fabulous way). Even though she didn’t have the warrior type physique of Khensa and Tala – I think this character had more to offer and would have liked to have seen more of her.
There were a few ‘300’ type shots, the sea of arrows in the sky being one – which I thought too added a real fantasy-feel to the film. So did the Gateway in the desert that the Scorpion King and Tala arrive at and need to work out how to enter. With any female/male pairings, you often wonder when a spark of romance will happen between them (as its quite expected, unfortunately) – but I liked the fact that this was a purely platonic friendship – it gave greater emphasis to Tala’s position as a warrior woman.
Before I jump ahead to the Gateway – I think credit needs to be paid to the gang outside – the costume and make up was very effective and unique.The boss fires an arrow in the air and challenges the Scorpion King “when you reach it, start running” – his gang will hunt him down. Of course, the SK rises to the challenge and psychologically outwits the lot of them – gaining the respect of the boss. The gang here I felt could’ve been a Roman army, they had honour for another great warrior – I wonder if David and Frank wrote this intentionally?
As we enter into the Gateway – they are attacked by the monster protector, Enkidu (Nathan Jones). He is guarding the book of souls, which we learn is actually a woman, Amina (Katy Louise Saunders) – she is key to the dagger losing its power. This character is so stunningly beautiful, as she drops her robe to her Leia-esque style bikini (not to mention her incredible figure) then we can be in no doubts that the SK has his eye on her (and not unnoticed by Tala either, women will be women after all). It was here too that I realised that these two characters reminded me of two characters in David & Frank’s Legion – the big protector guy – who in fact the one he protects, protects him!
As Amina leaves the protection of the Gateway into the outside world – we know she has everything at stake, so does Enkidu, his fear of fire (which can turn him to clay) – keeps him at bay as she flees with Tala and the SK. He of course catches up later – and like the Lion in Wizard of Oz, grows some clay balls in the boss showdown. I like the way Nathan Jones played this character, giving a personality and conscience to a monster can’t be easy.
As the mob capture our heroes later, the boss showdown is particularly well done – a weakened Scorpion King at the mercy of Nebserek – who wants the glorification of a fight to finally wipe out this elusive enemy. Well, one of them is hurled into a fiery pit and one other character walking into their destiny and crumbling into the atmosphere… you’ll have to watch it to see.
I hope we get to see Zach play the Scorpion King again, I think he did a great job. Plus it would be interesting to see Mayling Ng put down the weapons and see her acting ability in a non-action role.
A big well done to David and Frank!