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The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/13/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/5/2015
My mind was wandering today and I began to wonder how the Direct-To-Video movie market has survived. In the 80s and 90s, if one could sell their low-budget movie to Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video, and Family Video, as well as a good number of "Mom 'n Pop" stores, one could turn a tidy profit. But, video stores have gone away and I have to assume that there aren't many people who are blind buying movies of which they've never heard. Does streaming video generate that much money? No matter the case, these movies simply keep coming, especially sequels to movies which long ago played in the theater. Today's example of this is The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power.
The Scorpion King 4 clearly takes place before the events ofThe Mummy Returns, but it's not clear just how long before. This story opens with Mathayus (Victor Webster) -- The Scorpion King of lore -- and his sidekick, Drazen (Will Kemp), on a mission, on behalf of King Zakkour (Rutger Hauer), to collect an ancient urn which is in the possession of Skizura (Lou Ferrigno). However, during the undertaking, Drazen reveals himself to be a traitor and an impostor. He is actually the son of King Yannick (Michael Biehn), who wanted the urn for himself. Mathayus is dispatched by Zakkour to meet Yannick and offer a peace treaty. This doesn't go as planned and he finds himself in the dungeon, where he meets Valina (Ellen Hollman). Soon, Mathayus and Valina escape from the castle, and find themselves in a race to beat Drazen to unlocking an ancient mystery which could bestow supreme power on the one who discovers it first.
When The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power showed up on my doorstep, my first reaction was, "Was there a Scorpion King 3?" You may have had a similar reaction as well when you saw the title of this review. As a matter of fact, there was. I actually reviewedThe Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, but I have no recollection of this movie. In fact, I'm not sure that I realized that The Scorpion King was a big enough hit to warrant all of these sequels, especially given the fact that Dwayne Johnson isn't in them. But, apparently someone is watching them, so Universal keeps cranking them out.
And it's clear that the makers of The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power are aware of this, as they've made a movie which doesn't take itself too seriously. Despite the absence of The Rock, those who are seeking out this movie are looking for some sword and sorcery action and probably aren't too concerned with a deep story. Screenwriter Michael D. Weiss, who have written a lot of sequels to sequels, takes this idea and runs with it. We get a barebones story concerning a lost artifact and a race to find a hidden treasure. Some nuggets of diversity are thrown in with Valina's father, Sorrell, played by Barry Bostwick, an eccentric man who is seen as different because he embraces science. His character acts as a sort of link to the audience, as he strives to prove that magic doesn't exist.
Is The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power a good movie? Not really, but -- and I don't use this term often -- it is a fun movie. Again, the film doesn't take itself too seriously and it reminded my a lot of Xena. Victor Webster, who slightly resembles Dwayne Johnson, appears to be having a blast as Mathayus, and this light-hearted approach helps to make the film more engaging. This is not to imply that the movie is a comedy -- although it does have some funny moments -- but that it plays more like a classic action movie, as opposed to the more dark films which we see today. There is a nice amount of action, characters do die, and Drazen abuses many people, but things never get too heavy. At 105-minutes, the movie is too long, but Director Mike Elliot attempts to keep things moving, although the film does have an episodic feel at times. (Also, there are several shots which suggest that the movie may have been intended for a 3D release, but I could be wrong about that.)
As it stands, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power is pretty much a no-brainer, in the sense that you can turn your brain off and enjoy it, and I feel certain that its target audience will find it. The only real mystery here is how this movie fits in with the others in the series. This one was filmed in Romania, therefore we get lust forests and grand European castles. This is a long way from the deserts of Egypt. How did Mathayus get here and how does this eventually lead him to become a really crappy CGI monster? Perhaps those questions were answered in The Scorpion King 3, which I missed. Having said that, if you are bummed that Syfy hasn't made a Game of Thrones rip-off movie recently, perhaps The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power can hold you over.
The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power does throw in a camel to remind us of the earlier movies on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs an at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. This is an example of how HD photography can really boost a low-budget film, as the colors look very good and the landscape shots have very nice depth to them. The image is very stable and never overly dark or bright. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects show good separation and aren't simply mimicked by the rear speakers. The action scenes bring some mild surround effects, while the subwoofer effects do a much better job of making their presence known.
The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Mike Elliot, Victor Webster, Barry Bostwick, Ellen Hollman, and Will Kemp. The Disc contains fourteen DELETED SCENES which run about 15 minutes. (When was the last time that you saw a DTV movie with this many deleted scenes?) Some of these are brief and some are unfinished, as the blue and green screens are in the shots. It's clear that Michael Biehn was meant to have more screen time given the cut scenes shown here. "The Making of Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power" is a three-part featurette which runs about 18 minutes. This offers on-set and on-location footage, as well comments from the cast and the creative team. The piece focuses on the location shooting in Romania, the cast, the stuntwork, and the fight scenes. The final extra is a 6-minute GAG REEL.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long