The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Two Disc Deluxe Edition) – DVD Review
By Jeff Swindoll Dec 16, 2008, 14:06 GMT
The blockbuster global Mummy franchise takes a spellbinding turn as the action shifts to Asia for the next chapter in the adventure series, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Brendan Fraser returns as explorer Rick O’Connell to combat the resurrected Han Emperor (Jet Li) in an epic that races from the catacombs of ancient China high into the frigid Himalayas. Rick is joined in this all-new adventure by son ...more
Brendan Fraser returns to vanquish the mummified, and I use that term loosely, Jet Li in this sequel that seems like it waited too long to get made. If you’re not too picky then you might have a fun ride, but some will think that the film is half baked. The recasting one of the leads doesn’t help matters either.
In ancient times, Han (Jet Li) conquers his enemies and becomes the first emperor of China, known as the Dragon Emperor. He orders his enemies buried under the great wall that he’s constructing. As he begins to age in office he realizes that he doesn’t have enough time to do all of the great things that he has in mind for his country.
He orders General Ming (Russell Wong) to go to the witch Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh) to order her to begin a search to discover the secret of immortality. The General is surprised to find that Zi Yuan is no crone but a stunning beauty and the two fall in love. However, when he brings her before Han he too is enchanted by her beauty and orders that no man touch her but him – not knowing that Ming and Zi Yuan are already lovers.
Zi Yuan discovers an ancient book that has the secret that Han seeks in it. Han begins to assemble a great army that will serve him. Zi Yuan casts the spell upon Han, but is horrified to discover that he plans on killing General Ming unless she surrenders himself to him. The General says she should save herself and follow Han’s orders, but Zi Yuan knows that Han will never keep his word, Han agrees, and has the General killed. Zi Yuan then reveals that the spell she cast wasn’t the immortality spell but a curse as Han and his army becomes encased in terracotta.
In 1946, Alex O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn “Evy” O’Connell (Maria Bello, taking over for Rachel Weisz) are retired and living rather lavishly thanks to two successful novels based on their adventures that Evelyn has written. Their son Alex (Luke Ford) is supposedly attending college.
What the two don’t know is that Alex has dropped out of college and with Professor Roger Wilson (David Calder) has been searching for the tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Alex and Evy are approached by the British government to return an artifact called the Eye of Shangri-La to China. They feign disinterest but both are bored of their less adventuresome manor lifestyle and jump at the chance for more adventure.
So Chinese New Year 1947 finds the elder O’Connell’s traveling to China to Jonathan’s (John Hannah), Evy’s brother, nightclub where they discover that Alex hasn’t been in college but is putting the final touches on his display of the Dragon Emperor’s tomb in the local museum.
However, General Yang (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) also wants the Eye of Shangri-La to revive the Dragon Emperor so that China can be once again ruled by him. You just know that the newly revived Emperor is going to be some trouble for the O’Connell family.
Let me get this out of the way first, I kept scratching my head when characters immediately referred to the Emperor as a mummy. Since he’s covered in terracotta he reminded me more of a golem, but that wouldn’t exactly fit into this franchise would it?
He’s played by Jet Li who probably just does a few days of work since the Dragon Emperor is mostly played by a CGI creation. What’s more ludicrous is that Yeoh has a throwaway line, something to the effect of once he’s immortal he can become all manner of creature, which allows the production to expand the Emperor into CGI monsters. However, he decides to just stay Jet Li when he battles the O’Connell’s in the grand finale. In the canon of the Mummy franchise (I’m not counting the Scorpion King ones since I’ve not seen them by the way) this latest addition is probably the worst one. The other two had a sense of fun that made me overcome my misgivings about digging up Karloff’s film with a modern, humorous twist.
This latest installment feels like the bandages are worn a bit thin and the decomposing bits of the corpse are coming off in chunks. In other words, it’s getting tired. It also doesn’t help that there’s a new face in Evy’s role (which also makes you think worse of the script since Weisz didn’t want to participate).
The film does have a moment or two, but the parts don’t mesh together in the way that the other films did. The romance between Alex and Lin (Isabella Leong) really doesn’t work either since there’s little chemistry between the two.
I don’t know Isabella Leong, but she appears to be popular in Hong Kong. She doesn’t make much of an impression in her American debut, but she does get pushed to the background due to the elder O’Connell’s storyline. It’s rather obvious that they’re setting up a “son of the Mummy” with the appearance of Alex O’Connell.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Disc one contains a commentary from director Rob Cohen and 11 minutes of deleted scenes.
Disc two starts with the 22 minute “The Making of the Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” Next is the 15 minute “From City to Desert” that looks at the sets built for the film. The 13 minute “Legacy of the Terracotta” is about the history of the terracotta army that makes up some of the plot of the film. The 4 minute “Call to Action” looks at casting the film. The 10 minute “Preparing for Battle with Brendan Fraser and Jet Li” looks at the fight between the two.
The 8 minute “Jet Li: Crafting the Emperor Mummy” is about how the beastie was brought to cinematic life. The 8 minute “Creating New and Supernatural Worlds” looks at the production design of the new film. Finally, the second disc offers a digital copy that you can download to your PC or portable device.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor comes out of the tomb shambling quite a bit. There are some nice battle sequences, but the sequel feels too little too late. I’d imagine this would’ve done better being released a few years after Mummy Returns instead of waiting seven years. You’ll either love it or hate it, but it seems to lack the fun of the other films.