January 22, 2008

Scorpion King

As much dumb fun as I've had in a long time. The kind of movie that shoots low at all the targets and thereby hits them squarely. Maybe because the WWF produced it, and do they ever know the meaning of "low brow family fare" (that's one fun oxymoron). Granted, they tried too hard in the latter, as a bit of gratuitous nudity would have really helped. The overly-strategic placement of Kelly Hu's tresses gets annoying after a while (and ruins one good visual pun).

The trick is keeping tongue in cheek while not winking too knowingly at the camera. Too many action films are obliged to take themselves oh-so-seriously nowadays. A movie like Tears of the Sun makes you long for war-is-hell-but-fun-to-watch classics like Where Eagles Dare and Kelly's Heroes. Or, they are made by people who seem embarrassed to be caught making them. Scorpion King strikes me as a film that everybody had a blast making, and that's what comes across.

Of course, there is plenty of giggle-inducing material. It seems that way back when, in the time when everybody wore leather and the entire world was based on a retail economy (where do they import all that leather from?), the average woman was twenty-one (barely legal), worked out a lot, made herself up every morning, and wore a push-up bra.

Except for Kelly Hu, who doesn't because: a) she's not wearing enough to hide the existence of one; and b) there not being a terrible lot to push up, she being, well, not ridiculously and unnaturally endowed in that department. Which I found quite nice, frankly, because the push-up bra look, like muscle-boundedness, has its definite limits (making it all the more regrettable that we couldn't see even more of her).

Victoria's Secrets fashion shows and beauty contests have their limits too. About five minutes, after which they turn more scary than alluring. Put too many "The Rocks" in a film and things get equally silly (as they do in the first scene, basically a WWF match with more convincing production values). True, Michael Clarke Duncan is plenty muscle-bound himself, but he's also got a substantial paunch, which makes him a lot more fun as an otherwise stock character.

And you need one guy with a rumble-the-floorboards bass voice (think how lame Darth Vader would have been without James Earl Jones). Again, Michael Clarke Duncan fits the bill perfectly. Plus an evil guy with a British accent (a British accent means you are either very wise or very bad), assorted sidekicks and one clever-old-geezer type. No clever-old-geezerettes (no women over the age of 21, remember). But, hey, you can't expect The Princess Bride every time.

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