I have mentioned in the past that there is the difference between a bad movie that does not know that it is going to be bad as opposed to one that embraces their own filth. And to a degree, Stephen Sommers, who directed the first two Mummy films among other popcorn flick fare, is/has to be aware of some of the occasional silliness when it comes to this films in a Corman-esque way. Such is the case with The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, which is the evidence to prove that two Scorpion King movies have been made after the first one which starred World Wrestling Entertainment icon Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.
Skipping to the third one, this direct to video effort screenplay was written by Brendan Cowles and Shane Kuhn (Drive Thru) and directed by Roel Reine (Death Race 2). Mathayus (Victor Webster, Surrogates) was a King before losing his wife and his rule in tragic circumstances. He is now a warrior whose assistance has been enlisted by a King named Horus (Ron Perlman, Sons of Anarchy) to prevent an invasion by Talus (Billy Zane, Sniper: Reloaded) . Talus has enlisted an army of ghost warriors, which include former WWE star Dave Batista and mixed martial artist/flash in the pan Kimbo Slice as part of the army.
There is no getting around discussing how thin the story is with these elements going for it. Webster, who kind of looks like Khal Drogo (for you Game of Thrones fans) does not do a decent job of moving the story forward, and even was given a bloated, burping, farting second in Olaf (Bostin Christopher) who gets some lines in that make you smile. You also realize Olaf's presence here is little more than a crutch, the same time of crutch that has been used in other Mummy/Scorpion King efforts. Oddly enough, he provides some comic relief that pulls you away from the inevitability of realizing you are watching a direct to video Scorpion King production to maybe laugh at it.
That said, the one person who pushes it over the top is Zane and his performance. He knows the type of set he is on and the general goofiness of the story and its telling, so he plays the film's antagonist with a mix of charm, goofiness and charisma that makes you laugh every time he appears on screen. It is as if someone made a hybrid person out of Christopher Walken, Axl Rose, Jerry Lewis and a guest on the Maury show (sometimes all at once in a crude mashup of sorts), gave him nice looking abs and trotted him in front of cameras. Ole' Billy is in on the joke or at least has to be if he is enjoying himself the way he is in Battle For Redemption.
By no means am I suggesting that Scorpion King 3 should be actively sought out by people who are looking for a fun diversion. If you want to flush out your movie watching palate with a strange and guilt-free action movie, there are better ones to do it with, and God knows there is a new plate of them every summer that serve that function. But if by some weird chance Battle For Redemption airs on TV somewhere, give it a look. Then stack up on canned food and ammo, because a TV station airing this thing in the first place would be a good sign that the end is nigh.
Universal presents Scorpion King 3 in a VC-1 encoded 1.78:1 high-definition widescreen look that is solid though unspectacular. Shot on the Red camera system, the film's modest production values stand out in high-definition with the computer generated backgrounds against a practical exterior, but on the flip side, flesh tones look natural and colors are accurately reproduced. Fine image detail is noticeable in the foreground and background exteriors and while it is not a leaps and bounds breathtaking transfer, it handles the workload admirably here.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround for this release, and the lossless track is (like it's video presentation) solid but not mind-blowing. As with similar genre films, there is enough low-end activity to make for a robust listening experience during the feature. Directional effects are a little sporadic, though it is clear and effective, along with its channel panning abilities. Dialogue is somewhat inconsistent through the film, and occasionally the sound effects to double voices (like Zane's spell casting chant) is slightly strange, but I can't say I was expecting to be blown away either way.
Reine kicks things off with a commentary that is surprisingly informative and enthusiastic. He gets into scene and shot breakdowns and discusses the intent of a shot, and how he worked the film into his personal schedule when working on another film. He shares praise of members of the crew and singles out some by name, gets into technical information such as the cameras used to shoot the film, and even gets into production trivia, such as mentioning one of the film's Thailand locations was the same as one shot for The Deer Hunter. Regardless of what you think of the film, the track is better than most of the ones I have heard recently. Six deleted/extended scenes follow (12:58), which including a little more Perlman, and a deleted scene montage (4:14) covers the wider shots that have no dialogue, which leaves me wondering why it's included. A gag reel (2:12) of flubbed lines follow, while "Swords and Scorpions" (13:18) is the film's making of piece. It includes thoughts on the location shoot, story and cast, by members of the cast and crew. Pretty much your standard stuff here. "Preparing for Battle" (5:54) covers the fights and swordplay, and the rehearsals for the sequences. The BD-50 includes the pocket Blu app, a standard definition copy of the movie on a second disc (along with digital and Ultraviolet copies of the film), and the Blu-ray includes BD-Live functionality for looks at other Universal works.
The Scorpion King 3 is never going to be considered a jaw-dropper based on its current reputation. It's a direct to video joint like the last one has and possesses moments of silliness like the other films have done. That said, the story has its share of fleeting escapist jokes, and Zane is a strange, even perverse treat to watch during the film. Technically it is nothing special, though the commentary is decent, if you happen to stumble on it somehow it is a strange treat to watch.