THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR - Less Fun Now
THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR (fantasy adventure)
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah and Anthony Wong
Director: Rob Cohen
Time: 150 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? The 'Mummy' franchise, which started in 1999, has always worked on the 'dumb but fun' premise, poking fun at itself and the legends and myths of its plot. However, with its third instalment, 'Tomb Of the Dragon Emperor', it gets dumber and dumber and less fun. Still, 'Mummy 3' delivers in terms of spectacular effects and visuals. What's more, for this sequel, director Rob Cohen (taking over from Stephen Sommers) takes 'The Mummy' out of Egypt transplants it in China - the venue of the Olympics and the focus of millions of TV viewers this weekend (from Aug 8).
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The film opens in China where we see Emperor Han (Jet Li, pictured) vanquishing all that stand in his way of 'reuniting' China. He then decides to conquer death. To do this, he seeks the help of the witch Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) who knows the secret of immortality. Unfortunately, she falls in love with Han's General Ming (Russell Wong) and the jealous emperor has the general executed. In vengeance, she curses Han and his men, turning them to stone. They are entombed - until adventurer and college drop-out Alex O'Connell (Luke Ford), discovers them about 2,000 years later in 1947.
Alex, however, has been duped by conspirators planning to resurrect the evil emperor. Fortunately for him, his parents, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn O' Connell (Maria Bello), just happen to be in Shanghai to help him on the quest to keep the emperor from achieving immortality . They are joined by Alex's Uncle Jonathan (John Hannah) and Lin (Isabella Leong), a foxy 'guardian' of the tomb that Alex 'desecrated'.
HITS & MISSES: It is obvious that Cohen (of 'Fast And Furious' fame) is trying to outdo Sommers, especially in the thrills and spills department and he has a hot and explosive chase sequence through the streets of Shanghai during Chinese New Year - and an epic-style battle scene between thousands of Terracotta warriors and zombies. And if you think zombies are an overkill in recycling plot ideas, wait till you see the mythic creatures that spring into this movie. There are some nice touches too - like Hannah's Jonathan running a nightclub in Shanghai aptly called 'Imhotep's'.
Fraser looks tired and out of sorts throughout the movie. Maria Bello, who takes over from Rachel Weisz, tries very hard to fill the shoes of her predecessor but she is not as feisty or as sexy as Weisz. Isabella Leong and Luke Ford provides a welcomed touch of young love to 'counter-balance' the one between Fraser and Bello; Anthony Wong plays a general eager to serve the emperor but goody-two-shoes Michelle Yeoh is miscast as the witch.
THE LOWDOWN: 'The Mummy' franchise looks set to become cinema fodder. Cohen has announced that he may be planning 'Mummy 4' - set in Peru (which is where Jonathan is heading)!