The obvious joke about Battle for Redemption is pointing out its insane filmic lineage. The Scorpion King 3 is the sequel to the prequel (The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior) to the prequel spin-off (The Scorpion King) of the sequel (The Mummy Returns) to the remake (1999’s re-imagining of the classic 1932 Boris Karloff monster movie). That little factoid is 10 times more interesting and amusing than the actual film, however.
The basic story is this: The Scorpion King, Mathayus (Victor Webster) has lost his kingdom and his wife and becomes a mercenary once more, disregarding his own personal safety and plumping for apparent suicide missions. Egypt is split into three kingdoms, with King Horus (Ron Perlman), his brother Talus (Billy Zane) and Ramusan all owning a third. Horus hires Mathayus to stop Talus from seizing control of his kingdom and stop him from acquiring The Book of the Dead from Ramusan. I’d say I’m fairly open minded, but I must admit, my hopes weren’t high for this film. At best, I figured it could be a cheap, dumb-but-fun romp starring several brick shithouses unconvincingly twisting their leaden, lumpy faces into emotions to befit the story. I was sort of hoping for a Conan the Barbarian style guilty pleasure.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Everything in this film is terrible. From the opening ten minutes you can tell that your plans for the evening have just taken a turn for the worse. The acting is woeful for one, with lead Victor Webster delivering every line in a painful monotone. I’m not sure why Ron Perlman and Billy Zane are here, but they’re certainly slumming it, especially Perlman, who recently gave a fantastic performance in Drive and is great in the underrated Hellboy films. Billy Zane hams it up for his performance as Talus, but it’s neither “good” or “so bad it’s good.” The dialogue is basically an unholy patchwork of unfunny one-liners stitched together with boring, functional, plot-advancing gurglings. The film is an absolute chore to watch.
The only vague glimmer of quality is the action, which is mediocre at best. Big guys hit other big guys with swords. Occasionally someone will get set on fire. This is meathead action for the very lowest of attention spans. The sprinkling of UFC and wrestling stars through the cast also give us a very clear, depressing view of the target demographic.
I think the one thing that offends me most of all about Battle for Redemption is that it’s clear no-one involved set out to make a good film. This was always going to be a bargain bin, cheapo title cashing in on a flick that whilst at one time may have topped the box office and launched the career of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has long since faded into cultural irrelevance. Even the recent remake of Conan the Barbarian was better than this and that wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination. At least in that film Ron Perlman has a comedy beard