Welcome To The Jungle

Welcome To The Jungle

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Every time a big man kicks a bigger man in the face, showbiz reporters ask, "Is he the next Arnie?" Half way through Peter Berg's movie, in which The Rock sports executive suits rather than pre-Passion leisure wear, you find yourself thinking, "Thank God, he's not Vin Diesel."

Welcome To The Jungle is a Diesel vehicle, superior in every way to xXx, but definitely in the same lights out, punch 'em up category. The venue is the Brazilian rain forest, where Christopher Walken, who, ever since winning an Oscar for playing a nutter from 'Nam in The Deer Hunter, specialises in off-centre meglomaniacs, controls a vast area of open-cast mining, worked by native Indians in slave labour conditions.

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The Rock, an ex-wrestler of some note, who has a proper name - as does Diesel, apparently - but prefers not to use it, is a considerable improvement as an actor to the cage-load of tough guys that preceded him. He plays Beck, a gentle giant, who operates as a debt collector for a shady LA restaurateur. He's only doing the job, in order to make enough dosh to open a small place of his own. Reminiscent of Steven Seagal in Under Siege, he is - wait for it - a chef.

He is sent to Brazil to bring back Travis (Seann William Scott, resurrecting his role from Bulletproof Monk), the shady restauranteur's son, who is either a student of archeology, or a rich runaway with an irresponsible attitude. Before achieving this difficult task, he has to fight rebels in the forest, as well as Walken's private army, not to mention vicious monkeys with teeth like the American Werewolf In London.

There is a girl (Rosario Dawson), who works behind the bar at the local drinking hole, while moonlighting as a jungle fighter, and an ancient artifact, hidden in the mountains, that will fetch millions in the auction houses of the West, the whereabouts of which Travis claims to know. A bearded Ewan Bremner pops up as comic relief, wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes, despite speaking with an Irish accent.

The plot may be a pot-pourri of action cliches, but the film has a healthy sense of humour and an easy way with itself. The Rock is a big man with bigger prospects. If he has the ambition, he could steal the crown. He's taller than Jackie Chan, has a shorter name than Schwarzenegger and conducts himself with infinite grace, compared to Diesel.

And he does it without guns.

Reviewed on: 25 Mar 2004
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The Rock goes to Brazil to bring Seann William Scott back from the rainforest.
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Director: Peter Berg

Writer: R J Stewart, James Vandebilt

Starring: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries, William Lucking

Year: 2003

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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