This over-the-top action sequel, starring Brendan Fraser, is likely to click with the public, given the enormous profitability of the first two "Mummy" movies.
"Dragon Emperor" begins promisingly, with a pleasantly outsize prologue about an ancient warlord turned to stone by a curse. But with all the attempts to smack viewers in the face with fleeting, competing "Wows," a lot of the "Wows" turn into "ehs" as the film progresses.
Some movies should've signed a no-compete clause with themselves. The action beats are more like action beat-downs. One Wow cancels out the last Wow, until the Wows start looking more like lowercase wows and soon the wows become merely eh, or worse, a string of low-grade, minimally inventive aggravations that fail even to hit the level of eh. They're more like bleh.
By Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune Film Critic)
Certainly Brendan Fraser's granite-jawed, goofily satiric take on a generic serial archetype, the
tomb-raiding wiseacre, didn't hurt. Nor did Rachel Weisz simply showing up and being there, pulling
laughs out of thin air and reminding everybody else that there's a trick to acting even in a soulless
evocation of another era. It's called style.
Director: Rob Cohen
Starring: Brendan Fraser (Rick O'Connell); Jet Li (Emperor); Maria Bello (Evelyn O'Connell); John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan); Michelle Yeoh (Zi Yuan)
Rating: PG-13 (adventure action and violence)
About "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" Movie
The blockbuster global Mummy franchise takes a spellbinding turn as the action shifts to Asia for the next chapter in the adventure series, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Brendan Fraser returns as explorer Rick O'Connell to combat the resurrected Han Emperor (Jet Li) in an epic that races from the catacombs of ancient China to the neon-lit streets of post-war Shanghai and high into the spectacular Himalayas. Rick is joined in this all-new adventure by son Alex (newcomer Luke Ford), wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) and her brother, Jonathan (John Hannah). And this time, the O'Connells must stop a mummy awoken from a 2,000-year-old curse who threatens to plunge the world into his merciless, unending service.
Doomed by a double-crossing sorceress (Michelle Yeoh) to spend eternity in suspended animation, China's ruthless Dragon Emperor and his 10,000 warriors have laid forgotten for eons, entombed in clay as a vast, silent terra cotta army. But when dashing adventurer Alex O'Connell is tricked into awakening the ruler from eternal slumber, the reckless young archaeologist must seek the help of the only people who know more than he does about taking down the undead: his parents.
As the monarch roars back to life, our heroes find his quest for world domination has only intensified over the millennia. Striding the Far East with unimaginable supernatural powers, the Emperor Mummy will rouse his legion as an unstoppable, otherworldly force...unless the O'Connells can stop him first. Now, in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the trademark thrills and visually spectacular action of the Mummy series will be redefined for a new generation.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is helmed by director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, xXx) and written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (Spider-Man 2, television's Smallville). Reprising their roles as producers in the series are Bob Ducsay, Sean Daniel, Stephen Sommers and James Jacks.
About the Cast
BRENDAN FRASER (Rick O'Connell)
Seamlessly transitioning from smart independent films to action-packed blockbusters, BRENDAN FRASER (Rick O'Connell) continues to garner widespread critical acclaim for his versatile, inspired performances as well as his keen eye for selecting thought-provoking material.
Fraser recently completed filming the third installment of The Mummy, with this Universal Pictures franchise cementing Fraser as a major box-office draw. Stephen Sommers' 1999 smash-hit epic adventure, The Mummy, was an ambitious retooling of the 1932 horror classic, with Fraser cast as an American serving in the French Foreign Legion who becomes involved with an English archaeological expedition and the ancient secrets they unleash. In 2001, Fraser reteamed with Sommers and co-star Rachel Weisz on the film's sequel, The Mummy Returns. The first two films have grossed more than $800 million worldwide to date.
Fraser has two new projects for New Line Cinema: the family adventure-fantasy film Inkheart, opposite Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent and Andy Serkis, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, about a scientist who searches for his missing brother and discovers a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth. Fraser also serves as executive producer on Journey. Inkheart will be released in January 2009, while Journey is released July 11, 2008.
Fraser has been in a string of some of the most successful independent films of the past decade, including Lionsgate Films' Academy Award®-winning Best Picture Crash, directed by Paul Haggis; Phillip Noyce's The Quiet American, based on Graham Greene's 1955 thriller of the same name; and Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters, opposite Sir Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave.
Fraser's additional film credits include Walt Disney Pictures' $100 million smash hit George of the Jungle; Looney Tunes: Back in Action for Warner Bros.; Harold Ramis' Bedazzled, co-starring Elizabeth Hurley and Frances O'Connor; Henry Selick's Monkeybone; Hugh Wilson's Blast From the Past, with Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek; and the live-action Dudley Do-Right, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Alfred Molina.
Fraser is also noted for his acerbic-witted role starring opposite Shirley MacLaine in Richard Benjamin's Mrs. Winterbourne, and his performances in Les Mayfield's Encino Man, Robert Mandel's School Ties, Alek Keshishian's With Honors, Michael Lehmann's Airheads and Michael Ritchie's The Scout, as well as his critically acclaimed performance in Showtime's The Twilight of the Golds.
Fraser's diverse theater roster includes his 2001 appearance at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the London West End production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Tony Award winner Anthony Page. Fraser played the role of Brick, opposite Frances O'Connor as Maggie Pollitt. Fraser received high praise for his work as the anxious writer in John Patrick Shanley's Four Dogs and a Bone at the Geffen Playhouse, in which he co-starred with Martin Short, Parker Posey and Elizabeth Perkins for director Lawrence Kasdan.
Born in Indianapolis and raised in Europe and Canada, Fraser has been dedicated to honing his craft since the early age of 12 and began attending theater when his family lived in London. He attended high school at Toronto's Upper Canada College and received a BFA in acting from the Actors Conservatory, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Fraser currently resides in Connecticut.
JET LI (Emperor)
World-renowned martial arts master and international film star JET LI (Emperor) burst into Hollywood in 1998 with his first English-language film appearance in Lethal Weapon 4. After completing more than 25 films in Hong Kong and China, Li took this first role as a villain opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Richard Donner film.
Li currently stars in the Lionsgate Films family adventure film The Forbidden Kingdom, in which he plays an ancient Chinese martial arts warrior with fellow martial arts expert Jackie Chan.
Li was most recently seen in the Lionsgate action-packed thriller War, alongside co-star Jason Statham, which marked their second collaboration. In 2006, he starred in the Focus Features biopic Fearless, directed by Ronny Yu. Li played Chinese martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia, who became the most famous fighter in all of China at the turn of the 20th century.
Under the direction of Louis Leterrier, Li filmed Unleashed, co-starring Morgan Freeman, which was released by Focus Features in January 2005. Li also starred in the Warner Bros. film Cradle 2 the Grave, opposite DMX. Joel Silver produced the film.
Li and his family were directly affected by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which greatly damaged South Asia. This natural disaster motivated Li to create The Jet Li One Foundation Project, a China-based charity organization, in April of 2007. The foundation aims to help people around the world from its headquarters in Beijing. The One Foundation promotes "1 person + 1 dollar + 1 month = 1 big family." By pooling together individual donations, the One Foundation mobilizes the power of the masses to extend a helping hand to the most vulnerable members of our global family.
In 2002, Li starred in an Academy Award® nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Hero which was filmed entirely on location in Asia through the early months of 2002. Using the assassination attempt of the historical figure Qin Shi Huang Di, the First Emperor of China, as a backdrop, the film explores the Chinese concept of what makes someone a hero. Directed by the renowned director Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers), the film also stars Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The film grossed more than $175 million worldwide.
Also in 2002, Li starred in Revolution Studios' action-adventure film The One, directed by James Wong and co-starring Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham. In a stunning dual role, Li portrayed Gabriel Yulaw, a police officer confronted with a sinister form of himself. He then went on to star in the 20th Century Fox film Kiss of the Dragon, for which he also served as a producer. Li played a foreigner on assignment in Paris who became involved in a deadly conspiracy. The film co-starred Bridget Fonda and Tchéky Karyo and was directed by Chris Nahon and written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
Li garnered rave reviews for his performance in the Warner Bros. box-office success Romeo Must Die. In this modern-day Romeo and Juliet, Li played Romeo (Han Sing) to singer Aaliyah's Juliet (Trish O'Day). Produced by Joel Silver, the film blended hip-hop with kung fu and created a new type of action picture.
Li teamed with Mel Gibson's Icon Entertainment in November of 2001 to produce a martial-arts television series titled Invincible. Featuring the art of wushu (the general Chinese term for martial arts), the film allowed American audiences to witness spectacularly choreographed action sequences in the Hong Kong filmmaking style.
Born in Beijing, Li began studying the art of wushu and was enrolled in the Beijing Amateur Sports School at the age of eight. After three years of extensive training, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing wushu team. As part of a world tour in 1974, he had the honor of performing a two-man fight for President Nixon on the White House lawn. For the next four years, he remained the All-Around National Wushu Champion of China.
Shortly after retiring from the sport at the age of 17, he was offered many starring roles and subsequently began on his film career with director Xinyan Zhang for The Shaolin Temple. Upon its release, Li was propelled into instant movie stardom and the film was an enormous success that spawned two sequels. This led to Li completing 25 successful Asian films before coming to America.
Li currently resides in Singapore with his family.
MARIA BELLO (Evelyn O'Connell)
MARIA BELLO (Evelyn O'Connell) has established herself as a leading actress with a formidable and dazzling presence. A cool, incredibly literate blonde, Bello has captivated audiences with her many diverse roles in such films as The Cooler with William H. Macy (Golden Globe and SAG nominations), David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, opposite Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris (New York Film Critics Circle Award win and Golden Globe Award nomination), Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking and recently, The Jane Austen Book Club. She will next be seen in Alan Ball's controversial new film, Towelhead.
Bello's other film credits include Auto Focus, with Greg Kinnear; Permanent Midnight, with Ben Stiller; Payback, with Mel Gibson; Flicka, opposite Tim McGraw; Bruce Paltrow's Duets; the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Coyote Ugly; Secret Window, with Johnny Depp; Silver City, with Chris Cooper; and Assault on Precinct 13, with Ethan Hawke.
Bello made her television debut as a series regular opposite Scott Bakula in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. In addition, she starred for one season in the role of passionate and headstrong pediatrician Dr. Anna Del Amico in NBC's critically acclaimed series ER.
Bello dedicates her time and to energy working for a variety of charities, including Street Poets Inc., Save Darfur, Office of the Americas and the American Friends Service Committee.
JOHN HANNAH (Jonathan Carnahan)
Before taking on the rigors of the action-adventure genre in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, JOHN HANNAH (Jonathan Carnahan) distinguished himself in the critically acclaimed drama Sliding Doors, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, and in the international hit Four Weddings and a Funeral, which won him the Scottish BAFTA for Best Actor.
Hannah recently starred in the action-adventure The Last Legion, Ghost Son, I'm With Lucy, I Accuse, Memory of Water, Pandaemonium and the thriller Circus and has also appeared in The Hurricane, Resurrection Man and The James Gang.
Hannah also has an extensive list of television credits, including the Cold Blood series of telefilms for Independent Television in the U.K.; the BBC series New Street Law and Out of the Blue; the documentary Sinking of the Lusitania: Terror at Sea for the BBC; the telefilm Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and ABC's MDs and Alias. He also played the title role in two British TV series: McCallum and Rebus.
Winner of the Best Actor award at the Stockholm International Film Festival for his performance in Madagascar Skin, Hannah studied for three years at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He has performed with Britain's leading repertory theater companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Before his acting career took off, Hannah worked as an electrician in Scotland.
RUSSELL WONG (Ming Guo)
A charismatic and talented performer, RUSSELL WONG (Ming Guo) is one of Hollywood's leading Asian-American actors. His most recent feature credits include the upcoming Dim Sum Funeral and Undoing. Other feature credits include Takedown, with Skeet Ulrich, Tom Berenger and Angela Featherstone; Romeo Must Die, with Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington and Aaliyah; and The Joy Luck Club.
Wong has recently made guest appearances in several top-rated TV shows including Numb3rs, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Commander in Chief.
Wong made his theatrical debut in the United States in the feature-film adaptation of James Clavell's "Tai-Pan." He went on to star in Wayne Wang's Eat a Bowl of Tea and Abel Ferrara's China Girl and played leading roles in China Cry: A True Story, the box-office hit New Jack City and the Vanishing Son series and television movies.
In 1994, Wong was honored with two awards: the Organization of Chinese Americans' Image Award and the Media Action Network for Asian American's Media Achievement Award, in recognition of his outstanding work in the entertainment industry as well as for being an exceptional role model for Asian-Americans. In October 1997, Wong was honored by the Asian American Arts Foundation in San Francisco (along with John Woo, Terence Chang and Tia Carrere).
A native of New York, Wong is one of seven children. Wong has studied martial arts for several years, which enables him to perform many of his own stunts. There is always something to learn in the filmmaking process. In recent years, Wong has taken classes in film production at the prestigious New York University in order to broaden his entertainment industry knowledge in all arenas, including directing. One of his favorite hobbies is photography.
LIAM CUNNINGHAM (Maguire)
Irish actor LIAM CUNNINGHAM (Maguire) was recently seen in the award-winning film The Wind That Shakes the Barley, opposite Cillian Murphy and directed by Ken Loach. For his role in the film, Cunningham received an Irish Film & Television Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Feature Film, and the film won Best Irish Film.
Cunningham's other film credits include The Tournament, Breakfast on Pluto, The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, The Card Player, Mystics, Dog Soldiers, Revelation, The Abduction Club, The Island of the Mapmaker's Wife, A Love Divided (for which he won Best Actor at the Cherbourg-Octeville Festival of Irish and British Film), Jude and First Knight. Cunningham will next be seen in Hunger and Blood: The Last Vampire.
Cunningham's television credits include ITV's Northanger Abbey; Anner House; BBC's Murphy's Law and Hotel Babylon; The Clinic; Granada Television's Prime Suspect and Messiah: The Promise; and the telefilms The Crooked Man, Stranded (Hallmark Entertainment), Final Demand (BBC), Attila (USA Network), RKO 281 (HBO) and Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke (CBS).
Cunningham's extensive theater credits include Poor Beast in the Rain (Gate Theatre, Dublin), The Cavalcaders (Tricycle Theatre), A Streetcar Named Desire (Gate Theatre, Dublin) and As You Like It (Royal Shakespeare Company).
LUKE FORD (Alex O'Connell)
LUKE FORD (Alex O'Connell) is a young Australian actor making his debut in American movies, following a rapid rise to success in his home country. His feature credits include lead roles in The Black Balloon, the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival Crystal Bear Award winner starring Toni Collette and directed by Elissa Down, and Kokoda, directed by Alister Grierson. Ford also appeared in The Junction Boys.
Ford is currently in production on the Australian Broadcast Corporation telefilm Blood in the Sand, which he is filming in Western Australia. Ian David and Sue Taylor (the team behind the acclaimed miniseries The Shark Net) are writing and producing the telefilm. Blood in the Sand follows the strange, real-life tale of a stockman, Snowy Rowles (Ford), who puts the crimes from a murder novel written by his friend Arthur Upfield (played by Robert Menzies) to the test. Rowan Woods (Little Fish) is directing.
On television, Ford starred opposite Elizabeth Perkins in the NBC/Hallmark movie Hercules, had a recurring role in McLeod's Daughters and appeared in All Saints, No Turning Back, Home and Away, Water Rats and Breakers.
ISABELLA LEONG (Lin)
ISABELLA LEONG (Lin), at age 19, already has a string of Chinese movies to her credit, including Spider Lilies (Ci qing); Diary (Mon seung), for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards; Isabella, for which she won the Directors' Week Award for Best Actress at Fantasporto and a Golden Bauhinia Award for Best New Performer and received a Hong Kong Film Award nomination for Best Actress; Dragon Squad (Maang lung); Bug Me Not! (Chung buk ji), for which she was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award for Best New Performer; and The Eye 10 (Gin gwai 10). She will next be seen in director Tsui Hark's Missing (Sam hoi tsam yan).
Leong is also an accomplished recording artist, having released several hit albums in Asia. Leong is making her American film debut in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
MICHELLE YEOH's (Zi Yuan)
MICHELLE YEOH's (Zi Yuan) was recently seen in Danny Boyle's sci-fi thriller Sunshine, for Fox Searchlight, and Rob Marshall's critically acclaimed Memoirs of a Geisha, for Columbia Pictures. Due out this summer, for Sony Pictures Classics, is the period drama The Children of Huang Shi. At the end of August, Yeoh will be seen opposite Vin Diesel, Charlotte Rampling and Gérard Depardieu in the postapocalyptic action-thriller Babylon A.D. for 20th Century Fox, by acclaimed French director Mathieu Kassovitz. Yeoh also starred in the independent film Far North, directed by Asif Kapadia, in 2007.
Yeoh is best known to international audiences as the intense swordswoman in Ang Lee's gripping Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and as the charming secret agent in the James Bond hit Tomorrow Never Dies, but the Malaysian-born actress has been knocking audiences out in Asia for more than two decades. Since stepping into the action-packed Hong Kong film world in 1984, she has starred in more than 30 films and challenged traditional views of Asian women with her portrayals of strong female characters.
She clearly demonstrated that she is more than the world's action queen in the epic film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a performance that brought her Best Actress nominations at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, the Hong Kong Film Awards and the BAFTAs in 2001. She was also named ShoWest's International Star of the Year in 2001. Yeoh also received a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 1997 Hong Kong Film Awards for her performance in the historical drama The Soong Sisters.
In 2002, Yeoh added another feather to her cap by producing and starring in The Touch, a contemporary romantic action-adventure. That same year, she was honored with a Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award in recognition of her achievement and commitment to nurture creative talents. Hence, she was named Producer of the Year by CineAsia and received The Outstanding Young Persons of the World Award by Junior Chamber International. She also produced and starred in the futuristic action-adventure Silver Hawk in 2003.
In October 2007, Yeoh was conferred the honor of Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor by the president of France, in recognition of her contribution to the arts and cultural exchange between Asia and France.
Yeoh does a good deal of work for charity and is also an honorary patron of amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), the Hong Kong Cancer Fund and the ICM (Institute for Cerebral and Medullary Disorders). Recently, she became a global ambassador for the Make Roads Safe campaign for promoting global road safety.