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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 2, 2014 - Edition No 917 

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WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

SYNOPSIS:
Beck, (The Rock) works in the urban jungle of Los Angeles, retreiving anything for anybody - for money. But he has had enough, and wants open a restaurant. His final job is to retrieve a double dealer’s son, Travis (Seann William Scott), from a lingering adventure in Brazil. Once on the ground in the tropical jungles of South America, Beck discovers that not only is Travis quite a handful, but there are others to contend with, including Mariana (Rosario Dawson), a no-nonsense beauty who holds answers to some mysteries with plans of her own, and the obsessive, avaricious Hatcher (Christopher Walken), an unhinged despot who has turned the jungle into his own fortune-making, gold-mining empire. There an invaluable artefacts to consider and the aggressive locals.

Review by Louise Keller:
A rip-roaring action comedy set deep in the exotic Brazilian jungle, Welcome to The Jungle combines the muscle power of The Rock with the comic charm of Seann William Scott. ‘Have fun,’ Arnold Schwarzenegger says to The Rock, in a one-line cameo at the beginning of the film. And fun is exactly what we have, in this rollicking 104 minutes of quips and acrobatic fighting, as Beck does what he does best, retrieving hard-to get goods for his boss.

Life is pretty simple for Beck; he lives in a two-choice world. Things are either done Beck’s way, or Beck’s way with violence. There is no option C. Peter Berg has brought a great sense of adventure to this film (it’s a bit like George of the Jungle meets Indiana Jones), and the Hawaiian locations (doubling as the Amazon rainforests) are spectacular, with stunning aerial shots over forests, precipices and waterfalls. With Johnny Cash’s ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town’ ringing in our ears, Beck sets out on his last mission in a pithy two seater plane that looks as though it may not last the distance.

The adventure has begun; there’s a splendid turn from Christopher Walken as a gold-hungry Panama-hatted capitalist, and the athletic, sultry Rosario Dawson is lovely as the enigmatic Mariana, who sets up the story’s moral code. We understand immediately why Beck is good at his job. With his 6’4” frame of muscle, he knows the drill and in every case, his quarry runs, fights, negotiates, begs. And he doesn’t work with guns. Landing in the middle of a dirt strip in remote Brazil, scattering a herd of cattle, he is quick to find who he is looking for. But soon, Beck and Travis are swinging by their ankles in a jungle trap, being aped by expressive monkeys on heat (‘establish dominance!’), and chased by a hoard of hoodlums with guns. R.J. Stewart has written a terrific screenplay and manages to inventively marry innovation with panache and witty lines throughout.

Humour is intertwined with action in some awesome fighting stunts, in which Andy Cheng (who also worked with The Rock on The Scorpion King) marries acrobatics of the Hong-Kong influenced fighting style tailored for the Brazilian jungle. There are some funny moments when Beck and Travis eat a local, hallucinogenic fruit, and subsequently find themselves paralysed. Watching these two ultra-fit men lying on the ground helpless, unable to move or mouth their words properly brings some laughs, and the gag is repeated to great effect later on. The final showdown comes with the incongruous melee of nerve, a kilted Scotsman playing bagpipes, a charging herd of cattle and a major explosion of muscle power. The resolution satisfies in every way – and there’s a moral. It’s all about honour and keeping your word. So if you’re looking for an energetic hit of good-natured escapism, head for the jungle.




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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (M)

CAST: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries, William Lucking, Ernie Reyes Jr, Stuart F. Wilson

PRODUCER: Marc Abraham, Karen Glasser, Kevin Misher

DIRECTOR: Peter Berg

SCRIPT: R.J. Stewart

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tobias A. Schliessler

EDITOR: Richard Pearson

MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tom Duffield

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2004







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