Anyone expecting a cute and cuddly live-action version of Rudyard Kipling’s book along the lines of the animated classic will be in for a bit of a shock when they behold the rippling bare torso of Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli in this adventure.
As you’ve probably gathered, Mowgli is all grown up now, having been reared by wolves and taught the necessities of life by Baloo the bear, and now he learns about girls when he spots a pretty Englishwoman (Lena Headey) strolling through the jungle on safari. He goes with her to the city, she teaches him manners and why it’s not polite to growl at people, but her nasty soldier boyfriend (Elwes) is lurking in the background, hoping that Mowgli will lead him to a treasure lost in the jungle.
A luscious interpretation of Kipling’s work, this isn’t much more faithful than the 1967 cartoon, but it boasts exotic locations, adventure and an impressive mix of animatronic and real animals. Lee is more Tarzan than man-cub, perhaps, but it’s an enjoyable adventure that owes much to Raiders of the Lost Ark in its climactic scenes (which are a bit intense for young viewers) as Mowgli dodges traps, quicksand and other dangers to save the girl. A missable prequel of sorts, The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, was released in 1997 but isn’t worth searching for.
Is Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is quite graphically violent and scary throughout and not suitable for under 10s.