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The Scorpion King

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Maythayus (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is an assassin, the only surviving member of the tribe of a legendary warrior people called the Akkadians. The Akkadians had been hired by the King of Ur to destroy Memnon, an evil warlord whose thirst for power knows no bounds. Before they can move on Memnon, the Akkadians are betrayed by one of their own and destroyed. Maythayus knows that Memnon is behind the attack, and soon discovers the secret of his military might: Memnon's companion, the sorcerer - or sorceress as it were - who sees into the future and reveals secrets that Memnon uses to his advantage in battle.

Maythayus attempts to murder the sorceress, Cassandra (Kelly Hu) but he's stricken by her beauty and isn't able to go through with it. It turns out that Cassandra isn't a completely willing companion of Memnon; she's horrified by the bloodshed and the "visions" that he puts her through are extremely painful.

When his assassination attempt on the sorceress fails, Maythayus flees into the desert where he meets a horse thief named Arpid (Grant Heslov). When Maythayus first encounters Arpid he leaves him to die in custody of the red guard, but karma soon lands him in the hands of Memnon's army as well. The two heroes meet again during their own executions - both buried up to their heads in the Egyptian sand. As the two are surrounded by a sea of human skulls, they realise that the soldiers carry out the execution by "smoking out" swarms of deadly fire ants that feed on their heads. However, Arpid has something up his sleeve - he's got a secret plan that allows him to escape. After much grovelling he agrees to rescue Maythayus and the two become friends.

Now that he's escaped, Maythayus seeks to regain his honour by destroying Memnon and the sorceress. Arpid leads him to Memnon's castle in the legendary city of Gomorrah where he must fight his way in and attempt to destroy the evil warlord.

Persons of interest

  • The Rock .... Mathayus the Scorpion King
  • Steven Brand .... Memnon
  • Michael Clarke Duncan .... Balthazar
  • Kelly Hu .... Cassandra
  • Bernard Hill .... Philos
  • Grant Heslov .... Arpid
  • Peter Facinelli .... Takmet
  • Ralf Moeller .... Thorak
  • Branscombe Richmond .... Jesup
  • Roger Rees .... King Pheron
  • Sherri Howard .... Queen Isis
  • Jonathan Hales .... Screenwriter
  • William Osborne .... Screenwriter
  • Stephen Sommers .... Screenwriter
  • Chuck Russell .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report


The Scorpion King picks a minor character out of a movie and makes a feature film about him. As a minor character Maythayus (and Dwayne) filled the part easily, but as the centrepiece of a full-length movie he's too weak. The tired, old cliché of a soldier done wrong and seeking to regain his honour has been done to death - literally - yet that is all that Jonathan Hales, William Osborne and Stephen Sommers could come up with.

On the other hand, you aren't going to see The Scorpion King because you want to learn how to make good films: it's sword and sandals, hack and thrust filmmaking in the time-wearied tradition of the golden years of Hollywood. Expect muscled men, nubile maidens, fancy fighting, dirty killing, good guys who know no evil and bad guys who know no good. Expect also sand, fearsome warriors, scantily clad women and that quintessential millennial addition, the wise-cracking sidekick.


Something curious to watch out for: Arpid escapes from being buried up to his neck in sand. One moment he is there, the next he is not. No explanation given. If he can do that sort of magic, how was he captured in the first place? Do the writers expect you not to notice it?

Something else that's curious in the film: in Balthazar's camp, just as he steps out of his tent, there is a shot of the B-camera crew tracking across in the foreground. Yes: 21st century filmmakers appear in ancient Persia (or thereabouts - the exact location is somewhat vague). The editor should be shot for using this shot. It's inexcusable. Even if every other piece of film was destroyed from that scene, a little CGI would take care of it.

But that's what you get from a B-movie.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence)

Surveillance time

91 minutes (1:31 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 18 April 2002

Cinema surveillance images

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