In Egypt, 1290 BC, high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) engages in an affair with Anck-su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez), the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I (Aharon Ipale).
When the Pharaoh discovers their tryst, Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun murder the monarch. Imhotep flees with his fellow Egyptian priests. Seti's guards, the Medjai then enter the room, to see only Ankh-sun-Amun and the dead pharaoh. Anck-su-Namun then kills herself, intending for Imhotep to resurrect her.
After Anck-su-Namun's burial, Imhotep breaks into her crypt and steals her corpse. He and his priests flee across the desert to Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, where they begin the resurrection ceremony. However, they are caught by Seti's guards before the ritual can be completed, and Anck-su-Namun's soul is sent back to the Underworld. For their sacrilege, Imhotep's priests are mummified alive, and Imhotep himself is forced to endure the curse of Hom Dai: his tongue is cut out, and he is buried alive with flesh-eating scarabs.
The ritual forces Imhotep to endure the agony of his wounds for all eternity. He is buried under high security, sealed away in a sarcophagus below a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis, and kept under strict surveillance by several generations of Medjai, for if Imhotep is ever released, the powers that made him immortal will allow him to unleash a wave of destruction and death upon the Earth.
In 1926, Cairo librarian and aspiring Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) is presented with an intricate box and map by her bumbling older brother Jonathan (John Hannah), who says he found it in Thebes.
After the pair discover the map leads to Hamunaptra, Jonathan reveals he actually stole it from an American named Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), who is currently in prison.
Rick tells them that he knows the location of the city because his unit of the French Foreign Legion reached the fabled city, only to be overrun by hostile Bedouins three years ago. He makes a deal with Evelyn to reveal the location of Hamunaptra, in exchange for Evelyn saving Rick from being hanged. And Evelyn closed that deal by promising the jail warden (Omid Djalili) 25% of the treasure worth, rumored to be kept at Hamanuptra.
Rick leads Evelyn and Jonathan's small expedition to the city, where the group encounters a band of American treasure hunters, Burns (Tuc Watkins), Daniels (Corey Johnson) and Henderson (Stephen Dunham), led by the famed British Egyptologist Dr. Allen Chamberlain (Jonathan Hyde) and guided by Beni Gabor (Kevin J. O'Connor), a cowardly former Legion soldier and former comrade of Rick, who had hidden himself in Hamunaptra during the Bedouins' attack.
Shortly after reaching Hamunaptra, both groups are attacked by the Medjai, led by a warrior named Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr). Ardeth warns them of the evil buried in the city, but rather than heed his warning, the two expeditions continue to excavate in separate portions of the city.
Evelyn is looking for the Book of Amun-Ra, a solid gold book supposedly capable of taking life away, but unexpectedly comes across the remains of Imhotep instead.
The team of Americans, meanwhile, discover a box containing the black Book of the Dead, accompanied by canopic jars carrying Anck-su-Namun's preserved organs; Chamberlain takes the Book of the Dead while each of the Americans takes a jar as loot. Before opening the box, Chamberlain reads an engraving saying that any and all who open the box are cursed to mutilation of their flesh if Imhotep is awakened. The men ignore the warnings, but Beni refuses to assist them, and flees.
At night, Evelyn takes the Book of the Dead from the sleeping Chamberlain and reads a page aloud, accidentally awakening Imhotep.
The priest's resurrection awakens the camp and they search the pyramid for the cause of commotion.
Burns is found by Imhotep and his eyes and tongue are taken from him for Imhotep's use.
Although both groups return to Cairo, Imhotep eventually finds them with help from Beni, who bargained with Imhotep in exchange for fortune and his life. Imhotep finishes absorbing Burns and eventually absorbs Chamberlain and Henderson.
Rick, Evelyn, Jonathan, and Daniels head to the museum in search of clues to put Imhotep back to rest, only to find Ardeth speaking with the curator, Terrance Bey, who is also a Medjai. After Evelyn reveals that Imhotep referred to her as Anck-su-Namun at the pyramid, Ardeth and Terrance hypothesize that Imhotep is indeed seeking to resurrect his love once more and has chosen his sacrifice: Evelyn. Evelyn hypothesises that if the Book of the Dead brought Imhotep back to life, the Book of Amun-Ra can kill the high priest once again.
Shortly after discovering the location of the Book, Imhotep, now with an army of brainwashed slaves, corners the group, in the process absorbing Daniels and fully restoring his power. Evelyn agrees to accompany Imhotep if he spares the lives of the rest of the group. Rick reluctantly agrees to do so, only for Imhotep to go back on his word and order his slaves to kill them. Luckily, Ardeth discovers an entrance to the sewers and they escape. Terrance stays behind to hold off the horde of slaves to allow the rest to escape at the cost of his own life.
Imhotep, with Evelyn and Beni in tow, returns to Hamunaptra, pursued by Rick, Jonathan, and Ardeth.
Evelyn is rescued after an intense battle with Imhotep's mummified priests, and she reads from the Book of Amun-Ra. Imhotep becomes mortal, and Rick stabs him, forcing him into the River of Death. Rapidly decaying, Imhotep leaves the world of the living, vowing revenge with the same words he carved into his sarcophogus, Death is only the beginning. While taking his promised treasure from the pyramid, Beni accidentally sets off an ancient booby trap and is trapped by a swarm of flesh-eating scarabs as Hamunaptra begins to collapse into the sand. The heroes escape, although they lose the book of Amun Ra in the process, and ride off into the sunset on a pair of camels laden with treasure that Beni took earlier on.
this movie is my cult movie back in the year 1999. the mix of Rick's machismo and Errol Flynnish attitude, Evie's sweet gumption and daring, Jonathan's comic timing and sheer good luck was the recipe that moves this movie into fan's heart.
Imhotep, the villain was antagonistic enough and though the legend of his power once resurrected was rumored to cause 10 plagues on Egypt, i was like disappointed to see that the plagues were quite limited. for example it is said that his power shall cover the whole Egypt into total darkness, still, the scene at the desert was done during a bright sunny day. and to think that his power only extends (or rather contained) to Egypt only, well, these people should just move out of Egypt. Settle masalah kan?
i much prefer the sequel "the Mummy Returns". that one is pure genius despite the CGI-ish look of the Scorpion King. but then, that's just me :)
4 star for this film, just because i love the chemistry shared by Rick, Evie and Jonathan. these 3 guys win my vote anytime of the day (^^,)v