Digital Domain
Luke Ford, left, joins Maria Bello and Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor."
THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR — ** — Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Luke Ford; rated PG-13 (violence, vulgarity, profanity, brief gore, brief sex, brief drugs, nude artwork)

On the surface, at least, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" resembles this summer's earlier hit "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls."

It also recalls "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" in places ...

And some bits seem reminiscent of "The Forbidden Kingdom" as well ...

As you can probably guess by that description, the third "Mummy" movie is overly familiar and is pretty unoriginal. And as half-hearted as portions of it are, you'd swear this summer movie "medley" exists simply to cash in on the success of the earlier "Mummy" films.

Also, it should be noted that the "mummy" of the title is more like a statue than anything else. He's an ancient Chinese warlord (Jet Li) who's accidentally been revived by the supposedly retired adventurer Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser).

So as usual, Rick must stop the seemingly invincible menace — though he hs help from his long-suffering wife, Evelyn (Maria Bello, subbing for Rachel Weisz), and their now-grown son, Alex (Luke Ford), who's sort of following in his father's footsteps.

It's obvious that director Rob Cohen is trying in part to make a martial-arts homage — one of his first films was the 1993 biographical drama "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story." But it doesn't fit well with the goofy fantasy and horror elements.

Worse, he rarely gives former Hong Kong stars Li and Michelle Yeoh (who plays his mystical nemesis) anything to do. Li spends most of the movie under heavy makeup (or is replaced by a computer-graphics version). Even their much-anticipated duel lasts a couple of fleeting minutes.

And while Fraser does appear to be having fun, Bello is distracting — both with her bad brown dye job and her fakey British accent, which sounds like a bad Weisz impression.

Speaking of imitations, irksome Aussie Ford might be trying to act like Fraser but sounds more like he's offering the worst John Wayne tribute in history.

"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is rated PG-13 for strong scenes of violent action (martial-arts combat, gunplay, arrow fire, stabbings, decapitations, vehicular and explosive mayhem, and violence against women), vulgar humor (including an animal digestive gag), some sexually suggestive language, scattered profanity, brief gore, a very brief sex scene, brief drug content (mystical potions), and glimpses of nude statues. Running time: 112 minutes.


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