The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

Did you know that there was a third Mummy film starring Mr. Brendan Fraser? I’m pretty sure I didn’t before starting Mummy Mondays. Released 7 years after The Mummy Returns and not directed by Stephen Sommers–the director of the first two films–this really does feel like an unnecessary addition just so it can be called a trilogy. Which is a bit of a shame because despite this film getting negative reviews, I didn’t think it was that bad.

It’s now 1946, Rick and Evy (now played by Maria Bello) are retired and their son Alex (now played by Luke Ford) is searching for the tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Jet Li). See, the cruel Emperor wanted immortality over 2000 years ago, but was tricked by the sorceress Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh). His soldiers were turned into terracotta statues and he becomes a corpse encased in a regenerating clay shell. The movie keeps calling him and his soldiers “mummies.” Just go with it. A Chinese military general who secretly funded Alex’s dig brings the Emperor back, and the whole O’Connell clan teams up with the mysterious warrior Lin (Isabella Leong) and try to stop the Emperor from reaching the Lazarus Pit. Err, I mean, the healing pools of Shangri-La. A fight in the Himalayas–complete with Lin summoning yetis, because why not–fails to stop the Emperor. Our heroes then meet with the apparently immortal Zi Yuan, discovering Lin is her daughter and also immortal. Yet another attempt to stop the Emperor fails, and the clay corpse bathes in the healing waters and becomes a shapeshifting Jet Li once again. Now immortal (well, mostly), his next step is to have his terracotta army reach the Great Wall of China–which he ordered the construction of, so I guess fuck you Emperor Qin Shi Huang–where they too will also become immortal. Zi Yuan summons the corpses of the workers buried under the Wall to fight back. Zi Yuan dies by the Emperor’s hand, but Rick and Alex working together stab him with a magical dagger, destroying him and his army. Alex and Lin–who lost her immortality at some point–are now together, Rick and Evy are happier, and Jonathan exists.

Trying to force this to be a Mummy sequel hurt what was otherwise an fun movie. Like, stop calling clay soldiers “mummies!” It’s just reminds the audience that you’re trying too hard to make this movie connect! The story is otherwise fine, but probably would’ve worked better as a full on Chinese movie with an all Chinese cast. But instead it’s a sequel to a franchise, requiring the inclusion of Jonathan (who may or may not have seduced a yak) and other recognizable characters who really don’t do much. Like, sure, our heroes stabbed Jet Li with the magic dagger, but weren’t super useful up to that point. And because of that the movie just is… fine. It’s fine.

MUMMY FUN FACT! The O’Connell family’s adventures continue in The Mummy: Rise of the Aztecs! Or it would have, but reviews of Tomb of the Dragon Emperor were bad enough that they scrapped a fourth film. Antonio Banderas was supposed to be the villain, so that might’ve been cool! Unnecessary, but cool!


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