When I first heard that Ron Perlman had left The Hobbit due to contractual obligations in the light of the film’s troubled production, I pondered just what projects they may be. After all, Perlman has recently cast aspersions on his return to Hellboy’s make-up chair. Just what might he have turned The Hobbit down for?

It turns out that the answer is, in fact, not very much at all. Sure, he might have voiced a character for Tangled and filmed Dominic Sena’s Season of the Witch, but a third project has us scratching our heads. News has reached us that the Scorpion King franchise is returning from obscurity for a third instalment, after The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior managed to pass most people by. Principle photography has begun on the straight-to-DVD feature, as Perlman joins Victor Webster and Billy Zane, with whom he will complete the trilogy.

As The Scorpion King 3 begins, Mathayus has lost his beloved queen and been driven from his former kingdom by a virulent plague. Now, an assassin for hire, Mathayus is dispatched by Horus, the King of Egypt, to protect his ally King Ramusan from imminent attack. In return for his services, he is promised Ramusan’s daughter Silda in marriage, as well as the legendary Eye of the Gods medallion, which imparts supernatural powers to its wearer. But to collect the reward, he will have to first rescue the princess, who is being held captive by Talus, the scheming brother of Horus. Mathayus agrees to the perilous mission, but the evil that lies in wait for him will challenge even his cunning and strength in a staggering test of courage unlike any he has faced before.

A spin-off from the superior (at least to begin with) Mummy franchise, The first Scorpion King movie scraped box office success as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fought a bunch of people with his top off. Originally a prequel, showing the trials and tribulations of The Scorpion King prior to his digital transformation in The Mummy Returns, the series has since suffered from diminishing returns as it quickly lost sight of the big screen.

Directed by Roel Reine, The Scorpion King 3 promises to raise the bar for DVD originals with a combined cast of 400 warriors and elephants. According to Glenn Ross, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Universal Home Entertainment Productions, “The Scorpion King saga, with its compelling characters, engaging storyline and non-stop action, is a perfect complement to Universal’s hugely popular and successful DVD Originals offerings.”

Should you be partial to a trip to your local supermarket’s bargain bin, The Scorpion King 3 is due for release in early 2012. Without the sneaking suspicion that you are treading on hallowed ground, this might even prove more enjoyable than 2008’s lacklustre Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.