Rundown (The) AKA Welcome To The Jungle
R4 - Australia - Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (21st July 2004).
The Film

Buddy movies are not a new concept, Hollywood has been making them for a long time now, from Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in those great adventures they had in the Laurel and Hardy series of films to more recent buddy film team-ups such as Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold in the Beverly Hills Cop series, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon and of course Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films and now we have a new addition to the buddy film genre thanks to actor-turned-director Peter Berg with Welcome to the Jungle (or as it's otherwise known as The Rundown) with American Pie's Seann William Scott and the biggest thing in wrestling, the most electrifying man in sports entertainment The Rock or just Dwayne Johnson to his friends.
The Rock plays Beck an aspiring chef that dreams of opening a small restaurant one day but lives out each day under the hand of mob boss Billy Walker (William Lucking) working as a retrieval expert, Beck wants out of the business once and for all and decides to take one last job. Once completed Billy will grant Beck his freedom from the retrieval business. All he has to do is go to El Dorado, Brazil and bring Billy's son Travis (Sean William Scott) back to L.A. This tasks proves easier said than done, as Beck has to deal with Declan (Ewan Bremner) a crazy pilot, the iron-fisted slave driver Hatcher (played to over-the-top perfection by Christopher Walken), a bunch of pygmy warriors and a relentless jungle.
Having landed in El Dorado and just after having struck a deal with Hatcher, Beck finds Travis in a local bar attended by a local woman Mariana (Rosario Dawson). He secures his catch but Hatcher and his men get wind of a rumour that Travis has located a sacred and valuable artefact and decides to go against the accord he agreed upon with Beck and will not allow Travis to leave Brazil until he has the location of the treasure.
This new development does not sit well with Beck. Having confronted and beaten Hatcher's men, Beck and Travis make their way back to the airstrip and hopefully out of the godforsaken jungle, but when Travis causes their car to careen off the site of a cliff, he and Beck are stuck in the jungle and must find their way out before Hatcher's men find them first.
After having seen the rather awful Scorpion King, I was hoping that The Rock was just a fad that would die away within a year, He didn't really strike me as the kind of person that could carry an entire movie, I was wrong, he can with a little help from the very funny Seann William Scott. You see, buddy films are an interesting breed of genre, because you can have an outrageous plot, over the top characters and ridiculous situations that ask the audience to suspend their disbelief longer than most films ask you to, which sometimes is a hard sell but one thing and one thing only can save a buddy film from just being a lame over the top flop, good casting. If the chemistry is right and the actors are having fun with their characters to the point that it literally draws you into the film, that's when the audience is ready to accept a hell of a lot. And this film, I'm happy to report does exactly that, almost all of the funniest moments of the film are shared between these two and to add to the excitement the action set pieces are thrilling to watch, especially the pygmy fight sequence and the final showdown with Hatcher, when you have Jackie Chan's fight choreographer Andy Cheng on your side then you can expect some great fight sequences. This combination almost makes you forget the paper-thin plot, but if you're in for a fun ride with lots of laughs, great characters and a lot of cool action then Welcome to the Jungle will deliver exactly that. This film is certainly recommended.

Video

The film is presented in its correct theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and is anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The Transfer is relatively sharp and well rendered for this DVD release, colours and vibrant, note that the transfer features a lot of background grain, but rest assured that this is not a direct problem with the transfer itself, but a result of the grade of film used, this was done to achieve a certain look that the director was after so the grain is intended.

Audio

This film includes a choice of three Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks, they are in English, Hungarian and Czech. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English soundtrack. As this is a film packed with action the surround mix utilizes every speaker, your system will be put through a rigorous test throughout this film. The surround elements are well separated from the dialogue, to the sound effects and music, everything is mixed in a well-balanced manner so that nothing seems out of place. Overall this is a very immersive surround track.
The film also includes subtitles in Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, English, English for the hard of hearing, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian and Swedish.

Extras

Lets start with the first extra on the disc, an audio commentary by director Peter Berg and the star of the show The Rock. I was really looking forward to this track, hoping to hear about how these two got together for the film and perhaps let us in on how they approached certain scenes, but this was far from an informative commentary, the two just chatter away as if friends meeting for a coffee, they tell a few jokes and make comments on some scenes with the occasional silent gaps, the commentary was amusing at times but there is nothing here worth repeated listening.

The second commentary features producers Marc Abraham and Kevin Misher, this track is only slightly better than the first in the sense that the two producers let us in on the origins of the production and their involvement. This track includes some very nice informative bits, but doesn't go into too much detail.

Once you've had a chance to listen to the audio commentaries the next extras on the menu are the featurettes, of which there are six. The first entitled "Rumble in the Jungle" running at just over ten and a half minutes, this is your standard EPK style featurette, a rather amusing featurette that focuses on behind-the-scenes material and interviews with the actors to give you general information on the making of the film.

The next featurette is "The Amazon, Hawaii Style" running at just under five and a half minutes, this featurette follows the film crew's shoot in Hawaii as the double for a Brazilian rainforest and we discover why they didn't shoot in Brazil.

The third featurette "Appetite for Destruction" runs at nearly eight and a half minutes focuses on the stunts, mainly the wire choreographed fight sequences, the bus explosion, the toppling of the water tower in the main town and the bull stampede at the end.

The next featurette is the very funny "The Rundown Uncensored: A Rock-umentary" this is a cheeky expose on the Rock's relationship with a Baboon co-star Kamila, they expose all the dirty secrets of their on-set love affair. This is bar none the funniest extra on this DVD.

The fifth of the featurettes "Running Down the Town" runs for just over four minutes is a tour of the Brazilian village set by production designer Thomas Duffield, he explains the research involved and the building process of getting the right look. The whole set was actually built on a back lot in California.

The sixth and final featurette on this DVD is the "Walken's World" running in at just over five and a half minutes, This is your general appreciation piece, where everyone gives Walken a pat on the back for being such a great guy and a wonderful performer.

Following the featurettes we get to the 8 deleted scenes and an alternate ending, they are presented as one continuous reel. Running in at just under fourteen minutes, the scenes are presented in non-anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen, they are rather rough and ungraded most probably ported directly from the avid screens. Most of them are actually extended scenes, but they include:

- An extended scene with Beck and his Boss Billy Walker at the beginning of the film.
- An extended scene of Beck with Declan in the airplane.
- An extended scene where Beck beats up on Travis after the Jeep / cliff fall scene.
- A deleted scene showing Mariana travelling through the jungle being chased and captured by Hatcher's men.
- A deleted scene of Hatcher watching through a surveillance camera Mariana being escorted by his armed men.
- Extended scene of the bull stampede, with a few more gun battle bits as well.
- A deleted mud fight with Travis and Hatcher goon Harvey that takes places after the water tower collapse scene.
- An extended scene with Beck and Travis back in L.A. at Billy's place.
- And an alternative extended ending with some additional dialogue spoken by Hatcher.

As stated above these scenes play continuously as a reel, It would have been nice to include some commentary explaining why these scenes where cut out of the film, or even some notes would have sufficed.

Also included is the film's theatrical trailer, plus bonus trailers for "Big Fish", "S.W.A.T.", "Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines" and "Hollywood Homicide".

If you look hard enough there are 17 hidden Easter eggs on this DVD, and below is how to find them all:

1. On the main menu, aim to "Special Features" option. Press left key three times to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see Bill Westenhofer (Visual effects supervisor) talks about 'Hatchet'. (35 seconds). Or direct access Title 11.

2. On the main menu aim to "Special Features" option. Press up-key three times to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see Bill Westenhofer (Visual effects supervisor) talks about 'Beck Vision'. (1 minute 42 seconds). Or direct access Title 10.

3. On the first page of subtitles aim to "Main Menu" option. Press up key once to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see The Rock talks about 'The pee scene'. (53 seconds). Or direct access Title 22.

4. On the first page of subtitles aim to "Main Menu" option. Press left key once and then up key once to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see Rosario Dawson talks about 'Hers and Rocks horoscope is Taurus'. (32 seconds). Or direct access Title 12.

5. On the first page of scene selection aim to main menu symbol option. Press down key once, left key once and then right key once to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see The Rock talks about 'His favourite Walken story'. (1 minute 06 seconds). Direct access Title 24.

6. On the third page of scene selection aim to main menu symbol option. Press down-key three times to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see Rosario Dawson talks about 'Being the only woman'. (59 seconds). Or direct access Title 13.

7. On the third page of scene selection, scroll scene selection list once around and then aim to 11th scene option. Press down key twice to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see Rosario Dawson talks about 'Kissing the Rock on the screen test'. (1 minute 07 seconds). Or direct access Title 14.

8. On the second page of special features, aim to "Walken's World" option. Press right key twice and left-key once to reveal flame symbol. Press enter-key to see Seann William Scott talks about 'Getting in shape'. (25 seconds). Or direct access Title 16.

It has not been confirmed how to get to the remainder of the eggs via the menus, but here they are with direct access details:

9. Seann William Scott talks about 'His production company'. (34 seconds), direct access Title 15.
10. Seann William Scott talks about 'The mooning'. (56 seconds), direct access Title 17.
11. Seann William Scott talks about 'The mud fight'. (47 seconds), direct access Title 18.
12. The Rock talks about 'Director Peter Berg'. (1 minute 28 seconds), direct access Title 19.
13. The Rock talks about 'Arnold's cameo'. (41 seconds), direct access Title 20.
14. The Rock talks about 'Summing down'. (1 minute 01 second), direct access Title 21.
15. The Rock talks about 'Working with the bulls'. (56 seconds, direct access Title 23.
16. The Rock talks about 'His memories of Rosario'. (2 minutes 09 seconds), direct access Title 25.
17. Bill Westenhofer (Visual effects supervisor) talks about 'Whip fight scene'. (1 minute 14 seconds), direct access Title 26

Overall

Welcome to the Jungle is great action adventure buddy comedy, although the plot is rather thin, you'll forget all about it once the action starts. The chemistry between the Rock and Seann William Scott is just amazing and the over the top performance from Christopher Walken is the icing on the cake. This is a very enjoyable film that will please most people looking for a good time.
The DVD presents the film with a great transfer and decent sound, the extras included are a nice touch especially the numerous featurettes, although short they are entertaining to watch. The commentaries where a little disappointing, I felt that the two could have been edited together into one, without really missing out on anything too important, that and the deleted scenes could have benefited with an optional commentary, other than those two minor quibbles this is a great release, I highly recommend this film.

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: A Extras: B- Overall: A-

 


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