Remember the Terracotta Army found in China in 1974? They were individual statues of soldiers with height being a clue to rank, plus chariots and horses – the armies of Qin Shi Huang: First Emperor of China, buried with the emperor in 210-209 BCE. The collection was estimated to consist of over 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots, and 520 horses.
Well, that funerary tribute is the inspiration for this movie.
In this third film of the franchise Rachel Weisz is gone, “Alex” is now in college so Freddie Boath is gone, it’s not a prequel so Arnold Vosloo and Patricia Velasquez don’t appear, Oded Fehr is not onboard, and while Stephen Sommers is one of the producers (it’s an Alphaville-Sommers Company co-production), he did not direct. The stars are Brendan Fraser and Jet Li, the movie was mostly if not all shot in China, and the change in scene makes for a robust, exciting # 3.
The tale of the Dragon Emperor makes up the preface: 9 minutes 40 seconds of rich, action-packed story-telling. Briefly, the Emperor (Jet Li) is a megalomaniac, emphasis on the maniac, who is one of the most treacherous characters in film (catch his speech before the big battle at the end of the movie). Michelle Yeoh plays Zi Yuan, the witch who is told that if she makes him immortal, along with his army, he will spare the life of General Ming (Russell Wong), her lover. She doubts his word, so while he speaks only Mandarin, she casts the spell in Sanskrit. He and his army become terracotta statues because, rather than grant them immortality, she has cursed them.
In Oxfordshire, England, in 1946, Rick (Brendan Fraser) is trying to teach himself fly fishing from a book, and Evy (Maria Bello) is doing public readings to plump sales of her second book: “The Mummy Returns”. There’s a clever bit of dialogue when first we see her face. She has promised her publisher a third book, but is blocked. Lucky for her (and us) she is about to have some new material. Alex (Luke Ford) is in college (at least they think he is), and Evy’s brother Jonathan (John Hannah) has bought a nightclub in Shanghai.
Circumstances will soon bring them together, along with Mad Dog Maguire (Liam Cunningham), Professor Wilson (David Calder), Lin (Isabella Leong), and General Yang (Chau Sang Anthony Wong).
If you’ve read my reviews of the first two films you know I liked the first one better than the second. I like this one the most. What’s not to like? A gigantic avalanche, building the Great Wall, the long-lost Oracle Bones, some great-looking Yeti, two undead armies fighting each other, another tomb with plenty of booby traps, and Shangri-La – WOW!
Written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, directed by Rob Cohen, and with Music by Randy Edelman.