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The Scorpion King – ITV4

Dwayne Johnson fights an adversary in a burning room

A rip-roaring adventure spin-off from The Mummy films. 4/5 stars

In the ancient Middle East, long before pyramids were built and mummies were made, one man (Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock) stands tall against tyranny.

Playing like an old-style matinee adventure, the non-stop knockabout action is nicely leavened with wisecracks ('There's no greater city than Gomorrah - except maybe Sodom!') and Johnson (then still billed under his wrestling star name The Rock) proved himself to be a charismatic big screen hero. His role here was a spin-off from his Scorpion King supporting turn in The Mummy Returns, only now he's the good guy.

Steven Brand is the warlord he has to battle, Kelly Hi is a sorceress he finds time to woo, Michael Clarke Duncan adds some vital extra muscle, Peter Facinelli is another villain and Bernard Hill supplies the anachronistic gunpowder.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.