Blu-ray Review: The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power

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Another bargain-basement, direct-to-video entry in Universal’s once proudly cinematic The Mummy franchise, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD January 13 (Digital HD format has been available since January 6). This one follows up 2012’s The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, continuing the story of Mathayus, the Scorpion King (Victor Webster). It’s intentionally silly, loaded with outrageous stunts and CG effects, and surprisingly watchable.

It’s an hour and 45 minutes of lightweight antics, infused with just enough low-rent craft to make it passably entertaining for the least demanding audiences. In other words, if your 12-year-old is having a bunch of friends over for a sleepover, this one should keep them nicely engaged. It’s also a very soft PG-13, peppered with generally non-bloody violence, making it safe for the tween set. Mathayus teams up with the beautiful Valina (Ellen Hollman) and her kooky father (Barry Bostwick, having an obvious blast) to battle a bunch of baddies, including power-hungry Drazen (Will Kemp), in a race to unlock an ancient source of extreme power. Along the way we get cameos from the likes of Lou Ferrigno (whose prominent billing and photo on the cover art is highly misleading), Rutger Hauer, and Michael Biehn.

The formulaic narrative is less important than the fact that the castis having fun. Director Mike Elliot keeps the action moving at a steady clip. Writer Michael D. Weiss’ sprinkles knowingly cringe-worthy quips throughout the dialogue. This is the type of action-adventure that strands its characters atop an impossibly high stone wall (“Looks like we took a wrong turn,” says Valina) with nowhere to go. How can they possibly escape the encroaching enemies? Just have them jump and tumble 500 feet straight down, only to stand up without a scratch. Yeah it’s dumb, but it’s actually pretty funny. Ultimately, this is harmless, cheesy fun. Had director Elliott and company approached this nonsense with deadly seriousness, it would’ve been worth poking more holes in. But as it stands, fans of goofball fantasy-adventure should find it suitably entertaining.

Universal’s Blu-ray presentation is top notch, with a 1080p transfer so crystal clear that the seams inevitably show on some of the CG imagery. The audio is offered as a loud’n’proud DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack that revels in bombast. Geoff Zanelli’s pulse-pounding action cues mesh perfectly with the sounds of clashing swords and thudding punches. Again, that group of rowdy 12-year-olds will love hearing this one cranked up to your system’s limits.

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power comes tricked out with a roster of surprisingly worthwhile special features. There are 15 minutes of deleted scenes (exclusive to Blu-ray), a 17-minute “making of” (in three parts, one of which is also a BD exclusive), and a gag reel. The behind-the-scenes material, though always strictly promotional in nature, highlights the genuine good times the cast enjoyed on-set. There’s also a lighthearted commentary track featuring director Mike Elliott and several cast members. The Blu-ray Combo Pack also includes a standard DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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