Friday, August 1, 2008
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
I had to admit—when I walked out the theater after a screening of "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" (USA 2008, 112 min.) a few days ago, I could not remember the title, except the word "mummy" in it. This film is supposed to be the third installment in the "Mummy" series, despite the fact that there is no mummies in the emperor's tomb, except a Terracotta Army (兵马俑). The pretentious CGI work showing a goofy fight between the Terracotta Army and skeletons cannot save the weak script and thin characters.
The previous installment "The Mummy Returns" (USA 2001) was set in 1933, when archeologist Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) had an eight years old son Alex. Fast forward to 1946 in Shanghai, Alex (Luke Ford), now 21, discovers the tomb of "Emperor Han" (Jet Li). Emperor Han was cursed into a clay statue by Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) more than 2000 years ago. If Alex's discovery resurrects Emperor Han and awakes his Terracotta Army, the consequence will be catastrophic, as claimed by the emperor. Rick O'Connell must save the world by bombing the hell out of Emperor Han, because Emperor Han and his Terracotta Army is regarded as a WMD.
The plot does not make much sense, because it only serves the purpose of showing off the expensive CGI works, elegant martial arts, loud explosions, and more CGI works. Did I mention CGI already?
Even the emperor is given a different name in the film, it is quite obvious that he is modeled after Emperor Qin (秦始皇), who is well known for unifying China, building the Great Wall, and creating a city sized underground Terracotta Army. However, he has never been regarded as "Dragon Emperor." To me, labeling the emperor with the word "dragon" seems a clumsy attempt to infuse Chinese element into this film, because everything else are failing.
Although the story is set 13 years later from the previous film, Brendan Fraser has only aged 7 years (2001-2008) in real life. As a result, it becomes really funny to hear Luke Ford calling Brendan Fraser "dad" when they look like a fraternity brothers.
However, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" should have no trouble to find at least one fond audience—the President. The film fulfills the fantasy of finding a WMD, bomb the hack of the location, and claim the victor of getting rid of a WMD.
Evidently, the President is one step ahead of this film—he bombed Iraq, not China.