While the original Scorpion King aped Conan and the second may have looked to Ray Harryhausen's work for inspiration, the third film seems to have its eyes firmly on Asian cinema. And I'm not just saying that because there are a whole lot of ninjas in this film.
An overdose of narration kicks off the movie. It seems being a king didn't work out so well for Mathayus. A terrible plague swept over his people, decimating the population and killing his wife. Devastated by these losses, Mathayus abdicated and returned to his earlier ways as a sellsword, seeking the most dangerous tasks, partly for the gold and partly for the chance of death.
So yeah, he's all about the Man Pain.
Playing the role of Mathayus this time is Victor Webster, whom I rather liked as the roguish Brendan Mulwray in Mutant X, but who is not well suited to the whole Broody McAngstalot thing they have going on here.
But perhaps they thought he brought other qualities to the role.
Mathayus accepts a job from the Horus, King of Egypt - travel to a far off land (which I did not hear named, but it was filmed in Thailand and makes liberal use of elephants and the distinctive architecture of that region) - and help the ruler there to defeat an invasion by Horus's brother, Talus. Talus is played by Billy Zane, who chews the scenery like he's starving and the set is made of bacon. So in other words, he's the best thing in it.
Mathayus has three main jobs: rescue a princess from Talus, make an alliance with a mysterious rebel leader named Cobra (no prizes for guessing who that turns out to be) and stop the invasion. This will necessitate fighting assassins, armies, ninja, and a trio of undead warriors from beyond the grave.
So a pretty normal week for the Scorpion Ex-King, then.
This is a better film than the previous entry in the series (which is damning with faint praise if ever I saw it). It has some solid action sequences (though the larger 'battle' scenes are not among them) and cool costumes. Unfortunately it is let down by a sometimes boneheaded script that fails to use Webster to his best advantage, and by the weak performance from the actor playing the princess. She's not cringingly bad or anything, but she is very flat.
If you're in the mood for light action fare and don't mind that it's a bit dim and tends to veer rapidly between toilet humour and taking itself too seriously, especially in the first half, then this isn't a bad way to spend an hour and a half - but I wouldn't suggest going out of your way to see it.