The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (PG-13) ★½

Review Date: August 1st, 2008

Third time is NOT a charm in this case. Besides a few cool action moments with Jet Li, this Mummy should have stayed buried.


The first two Mummy movies were a lot of dumb fun: lost cities in the Egyptian desert, tombs full of mummies, scarabs, Scorpion Kings. The word "mummy" just lends itself to an Egyptian adventure. But setting the third one in China doesn't really work. An ancient ruthless Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) and his 10,000 warriors who have laid forgotten for eons, entombed in clay as a vast, silent Terracotta Army just waiting to be awakened to wreak havoc again isn't one's idea of a Mummy movie. A Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon variation, maybe, but not in this milieu. The original Mummy heroes Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) are once again involved, but it doesn't make it any better. Even their now grown-up son Alex (Luke Ford), as a mini-Rick, can't help elevate the proceedings. The only saving grace is perhaps Michelle Yeoh as a sorceress who sticks around long enough to get her revenge on the emperor.


Fraser has lost his Mummy edge. Sleepwalking through most of the movie, the actor has only a smidgen of his former glory as adventurer Rick O'Connell. Maybe he exhausted himself by being chased by dinosaurs at the Center of the Earth, who knows? And poor Bello, who replaces Rachel Weisz as the feisty Evvie. It's obvious she took over the role for a chance to do some action stunts, but the actress is terribly misplaced and has absolutely zero chemistry with Fraser--as opposed to the cutesy, sexy vibe Weisz and Fraser shared. Newcomer Ford seems inexperienced all around, but it's not his fault he has to spout clich├ęd dialogue at every turn. Only Li and Yeoh hold any weight, as the talented Chinese actors are wont to do.


In fact, the Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh's sword fight scene is probably the only reason to see Mummy 3. Director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) obviously has seen Crouching Tiger and Hero several times and feels mixing the Mummy universe with these Chinese classics would be fun. It isn't. In large part, the blame rests on the hackneyed script (by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar), which tries to drum up a troubled father-son relationship while trying to send the good old emperor back to the Netherworld. But Cohen is also at fault, creating staid--or completely unbelievable--action sequences (Yetis coming out of nowhere in the frozen Himalayas, for heaven's sakes?). It's clear Universal wants to continue making Mummy movies with perhaps young Luke Ford at the helm, but this third installment may finally mummify the franchise.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 1/2 stars.