The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Review

Synopsis
Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford), trying to escape the shadow of his famous parents Rick (Brendan Frasier) and Evelyn (Maria Bello) O’Connell, locates the cursed first Emperor of Qin (Jet Li) in China. However, General Yang (Anthony Chau-Sang Wong) is also after the Emperor to resurrect him to rule the world. When the Emperor is awakened, the O’Connells must once again stop a terrible evil from taking over the world.

Review
It seems that in today’s movie landscape, studios try to milk their successful franchises for every cent they can. Brendan Frasier’s Mummy series is one such casualty. Released seven years after The Mummy Returns, Universal brings Rick O’Connell (Frasier) out of retirement to once again battle a mummy, one that is not Imhotep this time, and does so with a different creative team. The results, as you might guess, are a bit of a mixed bag.

The mummy this time, known as The Emperor, is played by Jet Li, who does well with such a one-dimensional character. Although his good performance might be because the role is much more action-heavy this time than Arnold Vosloo’s role as the mummy and Li excels at such action sequences. However, the character seemed to lack any motivation except for personal power, which is pretty generic. I wasn’t expecting anything deep from this sort of film but at least Imhotep’s actions were fueled by his love for Anck-Su-Namun.

Rachel Weisz did not return for this film. Instead, the role of Evelyn was played by Maria Bello. As Evy, I don’t think Bello did a bad job. She held her own during the action sequences and I don’t really have anything negative about her acting. However, throughout the entire movie, there was this small feeling like there was something off. She merely lacked the chemistry Weisz did with Frasier. It felt like they were simply going through the motions and didn’t feel like they were having as much fun together as Frasier and Weisz did. Although, Bello did have a good introduction scene which clearly noted she was not the same Evy as before.

Speaking of no chemistry, an older Alex O’Connell (who lost his English accent somewhere over the years) is played by Luke Ford. Alex forms a relationship with Lin (Isabella Leong), a protector of the Emperor’s tomb because how dare there be a young, handsome man in an action movie who doesn’t have a love interest. Like Frasier and Bello, Ford and Leong lack the chemistry to make their characters’ relationship feel genuine. That’s not even including the writing that makes it feel forced. Their entire relationship feels shoehorned in because they wanted a new couple by the end of the film.

I think this movie’s biggest flaw, though, is that it lacks the fun the previous two Mummy movies possessed. It is much more action-oriented than the previous films and lacking the comedy element. Which is not entirely a bad thing since there are plenty of action movies that don’t have a comedic component. However, there was a sense of whimsical fun the other films had that made them extremely entertaining, even if slightly campy. There is just too much seriousness in this film for the franchise it is a part of.

I thought The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was OK 😐 As an action movie, it’s pretty good but when it is compared as a Mummy movie to the rest in the series, it doesn’t hold up. The sense of fun feels left behind and there is a lack of chemistry between the actors. This is one franchise where the studio should have left well enough alone.

Also read my reviews for The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Rob Cohen – Director
Alfred Gough – Writer
Miles Miller – Writer
Randy Edelman – Composer

Brendan Frasier – Rick O’Connell
Maria Bello – Evelyn O’Connell
John Hannah – Jonathan Carnahan
Luke Ford – Alex O’Connell
Isabella Leong – Lin
Michelle Yeoh – Zi Yuan
Jet Li – Emperor
Anthony Chau-Sang Wong – General Yang
Jessey Meng – Choi
Liam Cunningham – “Mad Dog” Maguire
David Calder – Roger Wilson

War Review

War movie posterSynopsis
When FBI Agent Tom Lone (Terry Chen) gets murdered, his partner, Jack Crawford (Jason Statham), vows revenge. Several years later, Crawford finally catches up to his partner’s killer, the elusive assassin known as Rogue (Jet Li), and finds himself caught in the middle of a feud between two rival gangs.

Review
War is your average action film, chock full of explosions and violence, with not much plot (at least until the end). Jet Li is one of my favorite action stars, and I have enjoyed many of Jason Statham’s movies, so it was fun to see them work together. If you enjoy any of Li’s or Statham’s other action movies, War is the movie for you.

Action sequences felt more believable than in other action movies. Not a lot of wire stunts were done (at leas t that I could see), so it added a sense of realism that usually isn’t present in movies containing martial arts. But then again, for two action stars know for their fighting skills, not a lot of it was on display. When Li and Statham finally meet, the fight felt a little lackluster. I think some of feeling was because I expected something more exaggerated from a fight between these two action heavyweights.

But throughout the rest of the film, there was a nice mix of action scenes, including hand-to-hand combat, gun battles, explosions, and a few sword fights. There was a little bit of everything. Most action films tend to have a camera style that is very jerky and utilizes quick cuts, but War did a good job of not following that convention. Shots were tight at times, but it wasn’t shaky, allowing the action to be easily visible without leaving the audience wondering what is happening.

With one character trying to play both sides, the plot can be hard to follow at times. I had some difficulty keeping up with who the character was working with/for, which made me lose interest in for a while. At the end, everything was explained, but it was a pain to get there. Also at the end there was a series of reveals that were pretty good and made the rest of the movie worthwhile.

It seems small, but something cool for the movie was the way the subtitles were done. Since one gang is Chinese and the other is Japanese, there are a lot of subtitles. To differentiate between the two languages, one was done in red and the other in yellow. As I said, it’s something small, but it’s a nice touch.

The action of War is much more realistic and not so over-the-top than other action films. The several plot twists and reveals at the end help make up for some of the shortcomings during the rest of the movie. Although War isn’t anything groundbreaking, it still offers all the break-neck action you could have hoped for.

Rating
3/5

Grammer is Officially Expendable

The Expendables logo

It has been floating around that Kelsey Grammer was in talks to join the already large cast of The Expendables 3.  Recently, Yahoo movies has confirmed that audiences will get to see Grammer in the upcoming installment of the action franchise.

Kelsey GrammerHe will play Bonaparete, a retired mercenary recruited by the Expendables.  Originally Nicolas Cage was up for the role, but for whatever reason, that didn’t pan out.  Grammer is an interesting casting choice because he hasn’t had many action roles (I can’t think of any besides X3: The Last Stand).  But I think he will play the part well.  He has many years of experience from sitcoms that will offer much comedic relief.

The Expendables 3 is set for release on August 15, 2014 with Patrick Hughes in the director’s chair. Grammer will join Expendables veterans Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Jet Li, as well as fellow newcomers Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Milla Jovovich, and Wesley Snipes.