The Mummy franchise serves up the same storyline in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, about ancient megalomaniacal warrior-kings coming back to life, but in a different locale. Not a problem, even if you’re a fan of the two previous Mummy movies, as long as you leave all your preconceptions and expectations behind. For one thing, there are no mummies here, in the technical sense.
It seems the people behind the series found the Egyptian plot line wearing thin and moved the action to China. This was surely designed to appeal to a wider audience, specially in the mainland, where a flood of bootleg DVDs can be expected. It opened big in Hong Kong.
Brandan Fraser reprises his role as the swashbuckling adventurer Rick O’Connell, but no Rachel Weisz as Evelyn O’Connell, who is replaced here by Maria Bello. This might disappoint viewers who will miss the chemistry between Fraser and Weisz, whose spirited portrayal of Evelyn would be hard to duplicate.
Otherwise, the fight scenes are just as exciting, if a tad predictable. And the special effects are stunning. Jet Li is in fine form, as is the always luminous Michelle Yeow, and both more than do justice to the obligatory martial arts sequences.
I also found the colorful and romanticized depiction of Shanghai before the communist takeover particularly entertaining.
There are few surprises though, for those who saw the first two Mummy pictures. However, as the latest serving in the epic action movie genre, it serves its purpose as weekend entertainment. The strikingly beautiful Isabella Leong would be enough reason to see this flick.