"THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Brendan Fraser as RICK O’CONNELL
Jet Li as EMPEROR HAN
Maria Bello as EVELYN O’CONNELL
John Hannah as JONATHAN CARNAHAN
Michelle Yeoh as ZI JUAN
Luke Ford as ALEX O’CONNELL
Isabella Long as LIN
Directed by: Rob Cohen
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When “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” came out this summer, it had a lot to live up to. The summer of 2008 is one for the record books, with “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” kicking off the season and “The Dark Knight” breaking nearly every record known to man.
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When “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” came out just a few weeks after Batman tore through the box office, it’s no surprise that it felt like a bit of a downer. However, with the film coming out on DVD in a more subdued time, it holds up much better on home video.
This second direct sequel – and the fifth in the series, if you include the “Scorpion King” films – “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” leaves Egypt behind and takes a journey to China. It’s ten years since “The Mummy Returns,” and the O’Connells (Brendan Fraser returning as Rick and new addition Maria Bello as Eve) are trying to live a normal life. Their son Alex (Luke Ford) has unearthed a new mummy threat.
The Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) has been resurrected. He is bringing back his army of the dead (not unlike Imhotep’s army from the second film) to take over the world. Once again, the O’Connells have to work together to put this mummy down.
If you go back and watch Universal’s original Mummy movies from the 30s and the 40s, you’ll understand that these have been nothing more than pulp fiction escapism for the big screen. The original Boris Karloff “The Mummy” was of pretty high quality, mirroring the style of “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” from 1931. However, the sequels deteriorated fast, but fans of the Universal monster movies are still going to love them.
This is how you should approach “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” It’s not meant to be a thought-provoking, intelligent film. It’s meant to be an action flick with cool special effects and plenty of monsters trying to kill our heroes. In this respect, it works, and what more can you ask for?
The movie also has an awesome moment with Ninja Football Yetis... and who can say no to Ninja Football Yetis?
The 2-disc Deluxe Edition DVD comes with a nice selection of special features. For a limited time, it offers a Digital Copy of the film. On the feature disc, there’s several deleted and extended scenes, along with a commentary track from director Rob Cohen.
The second disc offers nice bite-sized documentaries about the filmmaking process. In some ways, this is even more interesting than the film, with spotlights on Jet Li, Brendan Fraser’s preparation for the action moments, how the film kept true to Chinese mythology, the legacy of Terra Cotta and the casting process.
While often times, the DVD behind-the-scenes features can be overly self-congratulatory and nothing more than fluff pieces for the film itself, these featurettes offer something more. They give the history behind the film and explain how the elements fit together. It’s interesting watching how the effects were achieved as well as the martial arts moments in the movie.
While it’s not as good as the first “Mummy” film from almost ten years ago, this sequel is decent enough and can be good for a night of escape.