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The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Brendan Fraser • Maria Bello • Jet Li • Michelle Yeoh • Luke Ford

Brendan Fraser THE CONCEPT:
Rick O’Connell (Fraser) and his wife, Evelyn (Bello), are lured out of retirement when a ruthless ancient Chinese Emperor (Jet Li) is awoken from a 2,000 year old curse by a wronged sorceress (Yeoh), threatening to resurrect his 10,000 terracotta warriors. Rick, Evy and their son, Alex (Ford) must stop this mummy before it conquers the world.

U.S. RELEASE: August 1 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13


Terracotta warriors

Brendan Fraser and Rob Cohen“The idea that the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an were, in fact, the mummies, really appealed to me. It was all about exploring the true history of China during two periods, 200 BC and 1946, in an unusual way and having a lot of fun with it. I wanted to take [the franchise] in a whole new direction, away from Egypt and into Asia. It’s a brand new adventure for our heroes; spectacular, colorful and completely Asian.”

Maria Bello & Brendan Fraser“I wanted to play Rick again. I was missing it. I’ve been waiting for the call from the studio since [2001]. You get to do so much fun stuff as an actor. You get to go great places. They strap you into harnesses and throw you around. You have to look like you really know how to take care of business and beat people up, when you’re really a wimp. When I got the call it was like, ‘China? How are we going to do that? Oh, alright. It’s an archeologically rich nation, it makes sense.’”

MARIO BELLO on taking over Rachel Weisz’s role:
Maria Bello & Brendan Fraser“I didn’t go back and look at the films because I had already seen them, because I love action movies. My accent is a bit different from Rachel’s accent. The funny thing is my seven-year- old son was on the set a lot, and sometimes he’d say, [in a British accent], ‘Mum, can I have a spot of tea please?’ He’d go into my English accent. But I loved doing it, it really dropped me into character.”

COHEN on wanting it to be based on a real Chinese Emperor:
“When I started to deal with the Chinese Film Commission they said to me, ‘We know your intentions are good, we know you care, however we want this film to remain a fantasy, we do not want it to take on an historical drama quality.’ So we began to take [aspects] from other emperors who had done similar things in terms of the conquest of the country.”

Jet Li“Rob wanted it based on the true history, but it was [incomprehensible] for the Chinese to have their Chinese Emperor become a mummy. In America you can make a movie and make jokes about the American President, but the culture in China is different, and they didn’t think it was comfortable for them to think of the Emperor in that way. So we set it earlier.”

COHEN on directing Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li’s first big onscreen fight together:
Jet Li & Michelle Yeoh“There is some wire work, but I didn’t want Crouching Tiger, I didn’t want them running up walls and flying. I wanted there to be gravity, and even though we would stretch its reality a little bit, whatever goes up must come down. I was thinking of what kind of fight they could have, and I came to swords because it leveled the playing field between a man and a woman.”

Michelle Yeoh“In a production like this they normally set up rehearsal times and training times, so we went there and 15 minutes later Rob comes in and we had left already, because normally we’re used to going on the set, they choreograph something and we do it, because they know exactly what we can do. When you fight with someone like Jet it’s so easy, because he’s precise and you have confidence that he’ll watch after you … except for one time! In the face off, when he’s charging at me, I got knocked a little bit. If it was somebody else, I’d be sitting here with a different nose!”

“Rob has a very good understanding of the timing and the fast pace that is so important in a fight sequence, and he uses very interesting angles.”

“I felt Rachel’s absence when I read the screenplay the first time, I will cop to that. We were partners, colleagues and friends. We had that chemistry. What Maria brings to the role is enthusiasm, sass and class, she’s sexy, and she’s bad news with her Winchester rifle. She played the part, rather than let it play her; she made it her own.”

“My whole life I’ve wanted to be an action hero. I wanted to be Indiana Jones. That’s one of the reasons I got into acting. And surprisingly, I’ve become known as this dramatic actress, and it was a month before my 40th birthday, and I finally gave up, and Rob called me and said he really wanted me to do this role. I did about 90 percent of my own stunts. Some of the things I couldn’t possible do, like jumping out of a moving truck or doing the flips. My stunt double, Karine Lemieux, made me look much cooler than I actually am.”

The Mummy

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Film Review, #699, August 2008 cover

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