Main cast: Brendan Fraser (Rick O’Connell), Jet Li (The Dragon Emperor), Maria Bello (Evelyn O’Connell), John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan), Luke Ford (Alex O’Connell), Isabella Leong (Lin), Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (General Yang), Russell Wong (General Ming Guo), Liam Cunningham (Mad Dog Maguire), and Michelle Yeoh (Zi Juan)
Director: Rob Cohen
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is the biggest movie of the franchise, and as things tend to be when it comes to movies of this sort, it is also the most brainless. Of course, I am not expecting anything more from this movie than about two hours of fancy special effects and explosions, and in that respect, the movie meets my expectations adequately.
Rachel Weisz is the only one missing from the principal cast and she is replaced by Maria Bello. There is an amusing line in the movie that subtly lets me know that the folks behind the movie are very well aware of how different Ms Weisz and Ms Bello are. Indeed, Evelyn O’Connor in this movie is completely different from that character in the previous two movies as Ms Bello plays her character in a more manic kind of manner, without any of the poise that makes the previous Evelyn a most amusing character. I miss Ms Weisz, but to be fair to Ms Bello, she will be fine in this role if she had played this character in her own way from the start.
This time around, we go to China for the dramatic explosions. Years have passed since the last movie and it’s 1946 when the movie opens. Rick and Evelyn had promised that they would settle down and retire from their adventurer lifestyles once the war is over and now they are forcing themselves to be content. Rick tries to take up fly-fishing when all he really wants is to shoot gratuitously at moving objects with his guns. It’s the same with Evelyn. She tries to be happy as an author of romantic action romps, but she secretly yearns to stab at things with her sword.
They get their chance when their college-age son Alex unearths the tomb of the long-lost Dragon Emperor in China. Rick and Evelyn, meanwhile, decide that they would like to save the world one last time by escorting a gem-like object to China so that Great Britain and China can mend their diplomatic relationships. In China, dear Jonathan has opened an Egypt-themed club. All of these characters will eventually realize that they are part of a grand plan all along for some rogue soldiers led by General Yang to resurrect the Dragon Emperor and allow that Emperor to lead his fabled army to conquer and “purify” China. The Dragon Emperor and his army were cursed by the witch Zi Juan a long time ago to be trapped in terracotta-like mud form but now it looks like the curse is finally broken, thanks to the unintentional aid provided by the O’Connell clan. Guess who have to save the world again.
Okay, so technically the villains this time around aren’t mummies, but still, the special effects that animate them are impressive to look at. The story isn’t much to begin with and it degenerates completely to become pure illogical mess in the last hour or so, culminating with an utterly dumb battle scene that sees humans wielding guns running stupidly and looking lost among a bunch of special effects. I don’t even know why they need Jet Li in this movie, since they could have easily created the Dragon Emperor in the studio. As for Michelle Yeoh, she looks like she can barely hold back laughter during her scenes. This reminds me. What on earth is with the good Chinese characters starting out in the movie speaking Mandarin only to end up speaking perfect English (even when casting spells that are supposed to be written in Sanskrit) in the later parts of the movie? It is as if the movie is trying to tell me that good guys must speak perfect English or something.
On the bright side, there are plenty of comedy in this movie, although the biggest laughs can be unintentional on the part of the movie. Don’t believe me? Wait until you see the kung-fu yetis. I sort of forgot just how much of an infatuation I had on Brendan Fraser until I watch this movie and that sole shirtless scene must be an early Christmas gift for me. As for Alex, he’s quite an irritating character, with Luke Ford coming off like the love child of Matt Damon and a tub of cheese. John Hannah is still too cute, but like the rest of the cast, he is underused. The CGI is the main star of this movie.
I also love how Evelyn and Lin actually kick rear ends in this movie side by side with the men rather than playing hapless damsels. For a big silly movie, this one is actually unapologetically in love with women who kick rear ends and I can’t help but to adore it for that reason.
For what it is, The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor is alright. Big, dumb, splashy, and overloaded with special effects, it manages to provide some pleasant entertainment to kill some time. So what are you waiting for? Go… well, go rent the video or catch it on cable some time.