Action Movie October Edition: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 2008
Genre: action, adventure
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, John Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Luke Ford, Isabella Leong
Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Distributor: Universal
Budget: $145 Million
Box Office: $405 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 12%

Gingersnaps Rating: One and 3/4 Cookies!


In distant China, Alex O’Connell has made the biggest find since King Tut’s tomb, the tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Thousands of years ago, the Dragon Emperor conquered all of China in order to build a great wall. Until he was cursed and turned into a terracotta statue. Now, forces have worked together using the O’Connell family in order to free the Dragon Emperor and help him on his quest to gain immortality. Now, the O’Connell’s must reach Shangri-La and stop the Emperor, that is, if they can figure out how to work together as a family first.


The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer, this was the Mummy movie that nobody wanted. Occasionally, we have to deal with the fact that Hollywood churns out movies that are part of a bigger franchise that the fans didn’t really ask for and end up seeing anyways (at least the first weekend) to see if it is as bad as they think it is going to be. The Mummy 3, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I’m sure people can name others. It’d been 7 years since the Mummy Returns. No one was expecting another Mummy movie. The director had moved on. The director was also the writer. The cast had moved on. And honestly, the only people who seemed to think that this was a good idea was Universal Studios.

I really don’t know how much production hell went on behind the scenes. I do know when you bring in a new director and new writers and you have to pay your main star twice the amount you used to and the main actress refuses to be in it so you have to replace her, it’s not a good idea to go ahead with production.

If this film had been “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” and not had “The Mummy” in front of it with a whole new cast and thus a slightly different direction with the script then maybe, just maybe it would have had a chance of success. Because there was a very good skeleton for this movie. Give Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li top billing. Make it a showcase of Isabella Leong. And for God’s sake cut out the yetis and the O’Connell/Cavanaugh drama entirely. This movie as it is, at worst is terrible and at best, forgettable.

I’d watched this movie once before and had to watch it again to review it because I had forgotten everything that went on it because it is that horrible. The main plot between Alex and his family ticked every check box for cliché. This movie was an insult to the adorable 8 year old boy character of the Mummy Returns. They aren’t a family anymore. Check. Is this Die Hard or the Mummy? They don’t approve of his life. Check. They don’t trust the girl. Check. Rick and Alex have a dick measuring contest through weapons. Check. Someone has to almost die to bring the family together. Check. Horrible, awkward romance scene with the girl. Check. Just one horrible cliché trite bit of storytelling right after the other.

If you’ve read my reviews, you know that I don’t mind a bit of cliché and trite storytelling. As long as it’s done well. This wasn’t done well. This was a card deck of clichés laid out one right after the other.

And the Dragon Emperor? He wasn’t scary. I have no idea why we care about this guy. He conquered China and built a wall burying his enemies beneath it. Yawn. It’s too big. It’s too broad. We care about one person, not thousands. (It’s sad, but true.) The people we needed to care about were the sorceress Zi Yuan and General Ming. Oh, they tried the whole “No other man is to touch her” theme from the original movies with the Emperor, and then threatening Zi Yuan. As a woman, that made me uncomfortable, but it wasn’t exactly terrifying. Imhotep was terrifying because he had a personal stake in killing Evie in order to raise Anuk-Sa-Namun. He would do anything to bring her back. Zi Yuan to the Emperor was a possession to be put on a pedestal, not a flesh and blood person. The Emperor, I have no idea what his personal stake was in anything. I didn’t know why he was trying so hard to conquer China. To bring order? There was chaos? These are meaningless motivations to convey in 15 minutes. When your villain has no substance, your story has no substance.

Lastly, sadly, the cast had no chemistry together. They just didn’t make me believe in well, anything. The foundation of the Mummy stories are great loves. And Maria Bello and Brendan Fraser couldn’t pull it off. Luke Ford and Isabella Leong didn’t even feel like they tried. So what was already a horrible movie plot wise just fell flat emotions wise.

No cookie. I mean. That horrible. I could go on and on and on. But I’ll spare you.

Sure, there were unnecessary explosions, because the whole movie was unnecessary. These weren’t “holy shit, that was awesome.” They were “Geez, what was the point?” So, yes, explosions. No. Not really make me happy ones. Half a cookie.

The fights were at least entertaining and pretty equal across the board. All the major characters got to cross swords at some point or another. Evie, Lin and Zi Yuan were shown as competent fighters. But even here, there was a letdown. Our heroes have been shown for two movies to be plucky and capable and we’re halfway through the movie, at the big fight scene before getting to Shangri-La. And we are suddenly calling upon…. Yetis. Wait? What? Yetis? Really? I mean, I get the whole China concept and let’s bring in Tibetan cryptids, but why are they the good guys? I don’t get it. The yetis are scarier than this Dragon Emperor. I’m taking a bite out of this cookie because these yetis just did not fit.

There were three women characters in this movie. Three! Four, if you want to count the General’s aid. The Aide had a bad ass scar on her face and seemed to be pretty intimidating. And then, they did nothing with her. Let’s be truthful here, the three women weren’t precisely awe inspiring. Evie, wasn’t smart. She was too busy playing mombroker between Alex and Rick. Lin got caught up in this whole stupid romance plot and then called on yetis. And Zi Yuan who laid the curse and has been guarding the fountain of immortality or whatever it was for two thousand years, really didn’t do that great of a job of it all said and done. The way to where the Dragon Emperor was resting wasn’t hidden that well. It wasn’t like he was locked up like Imhotep. There was no reason that this guy should have been still in his terracotta form after 2000 years except for plot. I’m not impressed. It feels like a huge waste of time and money and these women’s talents both as characters and actresses. No cookie.

But at least the movie looked pretty? The yetis were cool looking. Very werecat type things and were pretty funny in their visual gags to boot. (oops puss in boots joke.) They looked awesomely fuzzy and really would have made awesome bad guys. The fountain of youth, pool of immortality thing was pretty too. The clothes were good. The tech was decent. Having Alex and Rick fight over who had the better tech, cliché, but interesting in showing how guns had changed.

What really threw me out of the movie was the actual Dragon Emperor himself. When he was running around as a terracotta guy, okay, sure, a bit weird, but sure. (Jet Li needs to work on his scheduling.) But after going into the pool and becoming an immortal shapeshifter (how does that work with the curse already, I’m confused. Was that part of his curse or part of being immortal or part of the powers he supposedly learned? And if it was part of being immortal then why couldn’t Zi Yuan do it as well? Or Lin? Three way shape shifter fight. GO. We know how that ends. Someone turns into a snake and another person becomes water and that is that.) He turns into a dragon. Not an eastern dragon, a western dragon, one with wings.

Oh and for some reason he needed Lin but I don’t know why. Was he going to sacrifice her or something? I feel like this movie was originally 3 scripts and they cut them apart and stitched them together to form this monstrosity.

But anyways, if this movie hadn’t already made me roll my eyes, at the whole turning into a western dragon, it lost me, completely. Which I guess is okay, because there was only one huge battle left where Alex has to go rescue Lin and all the other clichés.

So I’m going to eat half the world building cookie because this is basic research and they had eastern dragons on everything else!

Tomb of the Dragon Emperor earns one and three quarters of a cookie. There is nothing of the magic from the first Mummy movies. The plot was cliché, boring and terrible. There was nothing personal to grab the viewer in any of the characters and their motivations. Give this a pass.


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