Welcome to the Jungle
June 17, 2004
Starring: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries, William Lucking, Ernie Reyes Jr., Stuart F. Wilson, Dennis Keiffer, Garrett Warren, Toby Holguin, Paul Power, Stephen Bishop, Chuck Norman, ,
When a film changes titles from its production, to its release, you don’t think too much about it. Working titles are common, it happens. However, when a film changes title from its American release to its UK release, that’s a bad sign. It means the film has gained such a bad reputation that they’re trying to distance it from its performance in America.
Hellbound, The Rundown, and now Welcome to the Jungle finally hit the UK some considerable time after its American release, and then disappeared in much less time than it took to actually watch the film. Now it’s the turn of the DVD release, also titled Welcome to the Jungle. I guess we can be thankful they didn’t change the title again.
So why did this film do so badly? It has The Rock, Christopher Walken and Seann William Scott; surely a decent cast for an action film? Well, the problem lies, as it so often does, with the film itself. You see; it’s nothing more than a feature length episode of the A-Team. A corrupt and shady gangster hires the Rock (A-Team) to travel to Brazil and bring back his son. In Brazil, the A-Team discovers that the whole region is being run by a tyrannical diamond minor who uses the whole village as slave labour. The chief bad guy spends the whole film shouting at his men, being tyrannical and riding around in his jeep with his henchmen. We’re even treated to classic A-Team camera shots where the camera is held next to the car wheel as it drives along, and is also placed in the road so that the vehicles can drive over it.
Where was Mr. T?
One of the (many) worst aspects of this film was the all too frequent inclusion of a comedy sidekick. Now, you’d think William Scott was comedy enough, but no, for some reason an incomprehensible Scottish pilot was written in. At least I think he was Scottish, because Ewen Bremner, who brought the character to annoying life, was born in Edinburgh, but his accent was quite absurd. It sounded more Irish at times, and was certainly difficult to understand. Now I realise that many Americans have difficulty understanding the Scottish twang, Trainspotting showed that, but I’m from the UK and have no problems with it. Bremner was just talking gibberish. Perhaps his dialogue was so bad that he deliberately made it incomprehensible so as to save his blushes?
Christopher Walken seems to be making a living these days spoofing performances from Christopher Walken, and this film is no exception. His tooth fairy story is a classic, even if it does confirm that his serious days are behind him.
The general plot revolves around Rock trying to bring William Scott home to his father to face the music for some extra marital deed, and William Scott trying to find a priceless artefact. They team together ‘Romancing the Stone’ style to find the artefact, save the village and defeat the bad guy. Hardly ground breaking stuff, but then what did you expect?
While this film may not have been great, and let’s face it – it wasn’t, it did feature one of the most significant cinematic moments of our era. No kidding, it did. At the start of the film, The Rock enters a nightclub to get some money from a footballer, and as he enters he’s passed by the great man himself; Schwarzenegger. Arnie tells Rock to “have fun” as they pass each other. This of course isn’t just some cheap cameo, oh no. This is Arnie giving his endorsement of Rock’s ability to become the next big action star. This is a passing of the torch from Arnie to Rock, a great and significant moment indeed. Schwarzenegger has gone, Rock is here.
Of course The Rock needs a film to define his status, an iconic role that he can be remembered for if he’s to become the star that Arnie clearly believes he will be. A Terminator type role if you will. Welcome to the Jungle is not it.
What made Arnie so great, was that he seemed to know what projects were worth working on, and what directors were up to scratch. While Arnie started off with James Cameron and Terminator, and went onto movies like Running Man and Predator, Rock churns out garbage like this, and Walking Tall. Rock seriously needs to choose his next projects carefully, Hollywood won’t tolerate too many mistakes, and once you’ve fallen into the –Movie bracket (as Welcome to the Jungle looks to be) it’s ever so hard to break back out.
He’s done better than Hulk Hogan, that’s for sure, as Welcome to the Jungle is no Suburban Commando, but it’s no Terminator either. Too many more like this, and Rock will find himself back on ‘The Rock’s show, SmackDown!’, with his brief flirtation with Hollywood nothing more than a fleeting memory.
Of course with a film this bland, you’d expect some decent features to make it a worthwhile purchase no?
Sadly what we’re presented with is the usual mixture of 5-minute featurettes and some deleted scenes that should stay deleted.
The first featurette deals with the fictional (at least, I hope it was fictional) on set romance between Rock and a baboon. Yes, that’s correct. Rock and a baboon. This is about as funny as a Christmas special of French and Saunders, but thankfully not as long.
There’s a short featurette on the building of the set in the middle of the Californian desert, and features many people telling us how great it looks despite the evidence to the contrary.
The best moment comes with the featurette on Christopher Walken. The man clearly knows he’s making crap, and doesn’t mind saying it – of course his mocking of the director during one scene fell completely on deaf ears, as the guy had no idea that Walken was taking the piss. I feel reassured that Walken knew the project was a poor one, but still he accepted it.
Finally the deleted scenes show just how bad and poorly paced the film could have been, with the alternate ending being a thing of pure terror. As William Scott and Rock get in their truck and drive off, Scott tells Rock of a huge diamond in some faraway jungle that could make them rich, suggesting the obvious sequel. I guess they watched the final cut and thought no way would they have the balls to add this scene and suggest a sequel for this film.