The Scorpion King

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"The Scorpion King 1" redirects here. For the two factual pre-dynastic Egyptian pharaohs, see, see Scorpion I. For Scorpion II, see King Scorpion.
For other uses, see Scorpion King (disambiguation).
The Scorpion King
The Scorpion King poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chuck Russell
Produced by Sean Daniel
James Jacks
Kevin Misher
Stephen Sommers
Screenplay by Stephen Sommers
William Osborne
David Hayter
Story by Stephen Sommers
Jonathan Hales
Starring The Rock
Kelly Hu
Bernard Hill
Grant Heslov
Peter Facinelli
Steven Brand
Michael Clarke Duncan
Music by John Debney
Cinematography John R. Leonetti
Edited by Greg Parsons
Michael Tronick
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
April 19, 2002 (2002-04-19)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office United States

The Scorpion King is a 2002 American action film directed by Chuck Russell, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kelly Hu, Grant Heslov, and Michael Clarke Duncan. It is a prequel/spin-off to The Mummy trilogy, and follows the story of Mathayus the Scorpion King, the character featured in The Mummy Returns.

The events of The Scorpion King take place 5,000 years before those in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and reveal Mathayus' origins and his rise to power as the Scorpion King. The name is a reference to a historical king of the Protodynastic Period of Egypt, King Scorpion.


"Before the time of the pyramids," a horde from the East invades the ancient world, led by the ruthless Memnon, who by their law, is king for being their greatest warrior. His many victories come from the help of a sorcerer who predicts the outcomes of battles, leaving only a few free tribes to oppose him.

Mathayus, his half-brother Jesup, and friend Rama, the only three true remaining Akkadians, are hired by King Pheron of the last free tribes to kill Memnon's sorcerer for twenty blood rubies, upsetting Pheron's son Takmet, as it is the last of their treasury, and Nubian King Balthazar, who dislikes the Akkadians. The Akkadians manage to sneak into Memnon's camp, but are ambushed by Memnon's guards, having been tipped off by Takmet, who killed Pheron and defected to Memnon's side. Jesup and Rama are hit by arrows, but Mathayus manages to sneak into the sorcerer's tent, where he sees that the visionary is actually a sorceress, Cassandra. Mathayus is then captured and meets Memnon himself, who brutally executes Jesup in front of him, and is about to kill Mathayus too. Cassandra, however, tells Memnon that the gods wish Mathayus to survive the night, and to defy them would incur their wrath. Memnon has Mathayus buried to his neck in the desert to be devoured by fire ants, but manages to escape with help from a horse thief, Arpid.

Deciding to finish his mission and avenge his brother, Mathayus sneaks into Memnon's stronghold, Gomorrah, and manages to enter Memnon's palace with help from an urchin. He briefly meets Memnon's court magician, Philos, who hides him and then directs him to the courtyard where Memnon is training. Mathayus tries to shoot Memnon from the watchtower, but is forced to save the urchin from having his hand amputated by shooting the axe out of Takmet's hand, alerting the guards to his presence. Mathayus only barely manages to escape Gomorrah, abducting Cassandra along the way, knowing that Memnon will come for her. Cassandra tries to escape from Mathayus and even tells him that she has been Memnon's prisoner since she was a child. Sympathetic, Mathayus allows her the choice of leaving, but warns her of worse dangers and that she is likely safer with him. However, Memnon sends his right-hand man Thorak and a group of guards to kill Mathayus and retrieve Cassandra, but Mathayus manages to slay them all single-handedly with the aid of a sandstorm. With his dying breaths, Thorak manages to stab Mathayus in the leg with a scorpion blood-laced arrow. Cassandra, however, uses her magic to save Mathayus's life. As an insult, Mathayus sends Thorak's blood-stained pendant to Memnon.

Mathayus, Arpid and Cassandra then run into Philos, who fled Memnon's palace and has perfected an explosive powder he was working on. However, they are ambushed by the rebels, now under the rule of Balthazar. Though Mathayus defeats Balthazar in a fight and earns his grudging respect and sanctuary, Cassandra has a vision of Memnon and his army slaughtering the entire rebel camp. She informs Mathayus and tells him of a prophecy Memnon once heard: when the moonlight reaches the House of Scorpio, the King on High will become the invincible Scorpion King, and Memnon believes himself to be the one destined to become the Scorpion King. Furthermore, she informs Mathayus that if he faces Memnon, he will most likely die, but Mathayus assures her that he will make his own destiny and they make love.

The next morning, however, Cassandra returns to Memnon in order to stall him and possibly kill him. Mathayus, with help from Balthazar, Arpid, Philos and the army of rebels, launches an all-out assault on Memnon's stronghold, facing Memnon personally before he can kill Cassandra, while Balthazar confronts and kills Takmet, avenging Pheron, and takes on the full force of Memnon's forces alone. The battle rages on until Mathayus is shot by a guard as in Cassandra's vision. As Memnon takes his place in the House of Scorpio to become the Scorpion King, Cassandra kills the guard while Mathayus retrieves his bow, pulls the arrow out of his back and uses it to shoot the exhausted Memnon, sending him off the edge of the roof just as Philos and Arpid use the explosive powder to destroy the palace's foundation stone, bringing down the bulk of Memnon's forces. Memnon is consumed by the flames as he falls to his death. With the battle over, the remnants of Memnon's army bow before Mathayus, who is hailed as the Scorpion King.

In the aftermath, Mathayus and Balthazar share a good-natured farewell as the latter returns to his own kingdom. Cassandra tells Mathayus that she sees a period of peace and prosperity coming, but subtly warns him that it will not last forever. Undeterred, Mathayus decides that they will make their own destiny.



Critical response[edit]

  • Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 45 based on 30 reviews.[3]
  • Roger Ebert, a film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, writing "A wise move, too, because 'The Scorpion King' is set 'thousands of years before the Pyramids,' so property values in Gomorrah were a good value for anyone willing to buy and hold."
  • James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two stars (out of four), saying: "It's possible to make an engaging action/adventure picture of this sort, but The Scorpion King isn't it."[4]
  • Dennis Harvey of Variety gave a positive review, saying the film "rouses excitement mostly from stuntwork and thesp agility rather than CGI excess."[5]
  • Nathan Rabin of The Onion's A.V. Club gave the film a mildly positive review, calling it "prototypical summer-movie fare, designed to be consumed, enjoyed, and forgotten all at once."[6]
  • Jonathan Foreman of the New York Post gave a negative review, saying that The Scorpion King "has none of the qualities — epic sweep, relative originality and heartfelt bloodthirstiness — that made Conan so trashily entertaining."[8]

Box office[edit]

The Scorpion King grossed $12,553,380 on its opening day and $36,075,875 in total over the weekend, from 3,444 theaters for an average of $10,475 per venue, and ranking at #1 at the box office. It then dropped 50 percent in its second weekend, but remained at #1, earning another $18,038,270. The film closed on June 27, 2002, with a total domestic gross of $91,047,077, and an additional $74,286,103 internationally, for a total worldwide gross of $165,333,180, against a budget of $60 million, making it a moderate box office success.[1]


The Scorpion King
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released March 26, 2002 (2002-03-26)
Genre Heavy metal, alternative metal, alternative rock, nu metal, post-grunge, hard rock
Length 01:00:41
Label Universal
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[9]
Track listing
  1. "I Stand Alone" by Godsmack
  2. "Set It Off (Tweaker Remix)" by P.O.D.
  3. "Break You" by Drowning Pool
  4. "Streamline" by System of a Down
  5. "To Whom It May Concern" by Creed
  6. "Yanking Out My Heart" by Nickelback
  7. "Losing My Grip" by Hoobastank
  8. "Only the Strong" by Flaw
  9. "Iron Head" by Rob Zombie feat. Ozzy Osbourne
  10. "My Life" by 12 Stones
  11. "Along the Way" by Mushroomhead
  12. "Breathless" by Lifer
  13. "Corrected" by Sevendust
  14. "Burn It Black" by Injected
  15. "27" by Breaking Point
  16. "Glow" by Coal Chamber

Video games[edit]

The film spawned two video games: The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian for the Nintendo GameCube and the PlayStation 2 which served as a prequel to the film's events; and a sequel, The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris, for the Game Boy Advance, in which Cassandra is abducted by the ruthless sorcerer Menthu and his lackey, the witch Isis (not to be confused with Queen Isis from the film), prompting Mathayus to undergo a quest to uncover the legendary Sword of Osiris and use it to defeat Menthu and Isis once and for all and rescue Cassandra.

Prequel and sequels[edit]

Following the film's release, there were initial plans for a sequel with Johnson to return as Mathayus, but these plans eventually fell through and the project was shelved. A direct-to-video prequel, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, was released in 2008 with Michael Copon as Mathayus and Randy Couture as the villain, Sargon. A sequel The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, was released in 2012 with Victor Webster as Mathayus and Billy Zane as the villain, King Talus.

The fourth film in the franchise, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, was released in 2015.[10] Victor Webster reprised his role from the third film, while Michael Biehn, Rutger Hauer, Lou Ferrigno and former WWE female wrestler Eve Torres joined the cast.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c "The Scorpion King". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Scorpion King". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 
  3. ^ "The Scorpion King". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  4. ^ Review by James Berardinelli, ReelViews2/4 stars
  5. ^ Dennis Harvey (April 18, 2002). "The Scorpion King". Variety. 
  6. ^ Nathan Rabin (April 29, 2002). "The Scorpion King". The A.V. Club. The Onion. 
  7. ^ Review by Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
  8. ^ Review by Jonathan Foreman, New York Post
  9. ^ "The Scorpion King [Soundtrack]". Allmusic. 
  10. ^ a b "The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015) (V)". IMDb. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Exclusive interview: Eve Torres on life after WWE". WWE. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 

External links[edit]