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Any movie that cost a heavy $85m to produce and only brought back a mere $47m must have been a stab in the heart for studio execs, but does that really matter when the film is so good?

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Film
Oddly renamed from The Rundown (in the USA) to Welcome to the Jungle in certain parts of the world, not least the UK, I personally think the former was a better title. That aside, and focussing on the movie itself, Welcome to the Jungle is only the third full-length feature to showcase The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), second if you only count film’s he was the main star of. Funny how he has had such a grip over audiences after having only featured in so few pictures, but I guess he is one of those actors who can do that. Aside from a bustling wrestling career, The Rock first showed up in Stephen Sommers (summer) extravaganza The Mummy Returns playing a villain he would later reprise in the spin-off The Scorpion King. Seems very generic so far, but Welcome to the Jungle is not just the best film of his career, but the breakout starring role he deserves.

Mixing themes from Indiana Jones, James Bond and not least Predator, and involving more than enough action/fight scenes to satisfy the barbarians in all of us, this flick really does rule the jungle. The Rock plays semi-active restaurant owner slash retrieval expert Beck. Upon discovering that his mob boss’s son has gone amiss in the Brazilian jungle in search of a gold treasure, Beck must hang up his chef hat and retrieve the rather reckless Travis (Seann William Scott).

Its pure fun for the most part, blending rapid quick-shot humour with full on action set pieces that’s guaranteed to enthral. Dwayne delivers some great one liner’s and practically makes you forget he was ever an entertainment wrestler. In saying this, William Scott, very well known for his Steve Stiffler character from American Pie, also manages to separate himself from those roots, and draws you into this new character that he plays perfectly.

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Flaws that the movie may contain are fairly obvious, even from watching the trailer alone can you decipher what they are. It is a problem most flicks of this nature adhere to: cliché’s. Yes, it is full of them, predictability around every corner and in almost all of the plot devices, twists and turns. But you know I really don’t care. The film is so blindingly entertaining and well paced that any shortcoming it may have can be sidestepped quite easily.

Welcome to the Jungle may have had disappointing numbers at the box office but that really doesn’t matter here, the film delivers far and away too much entertainment to care. Enjoy it and let’s hope Mr. Johnson comes back for more of this sort in the near future.

Video
Presented in a colourful 2.35:1 frame, Welcome to the Jungle offers quite a spark. It is however perhaps too colourful in some scenes. For example, jungle depths can often be unnaturally green, and can often resemble neon lighting. Of course, a great deal of this depends on your screen settings, brightness, contrast etc, but there is no denying some rather questionable colouring throughout this print.

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On a plus note, the fine detail is commendable, so too is the black levels which are mostly strong. You will also enjoy a practically dust, grain and scratch free image, which is a nice bonus and should be expected in a high-budget, modern feature such as this.

Audio
With plenty of bombastic explosions and action aplenty Dolby serves up the goods with style. While only a Dolby 5.1 mix is all that you get, they respect the medium and offer superior separation, clarity and most important of all for a film like this, extraordinarily low sub-bass frequencies.

Directional effects are obvious here, and come though gleaming. Despite all of its loudness, it seemingly doesn’t forget the all important centre channel. Dialogue and centre-directional effects are solid, if a little on the quiet side during the subdued moments of the movie. In all, this is a great audio frenzy and a fine effort from Dolby.

Extras
Menus don’t come much plainer. While easy to navigate they are a little boring I must confess. Still, this disc offers enough features to overlook this rather miniscule blunder.

First up (and very impressively) there are two feature-length commentaries. The first (director and cast commentary) doesn’t really offer much insight into the movie but The Rock and director Peter Berg take the time to have some harmless fun. I doubt I’ll listen to it ever again, but it’s decent for a no-strings-entertainer.  

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The producer’s commentary is without doubt the one to listen to for behind the scenes info. Both Marc Abraham and Kevin Misher really pick apart the movie and give a truly amicable insight. It really doesn’t get as good as this, nor as informative. Without doubt the most lucrative feature on the disc.

Next up is a short feature called ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ that illustrates the main fight/action scenes peppered throughout the movie. Further down the list ‘The Amazon, Hawaii Style’ runs for about five minutes and other than showing you filming locations doesn’t really add up to much. Neither does ‘Appetite for Destruction’ which only runs for several minutes and showcases the film’s explosive traits.

‘The Rundown Uncensored: A Rock-Unemtary’ is a six minute feature staring Kevin Keith (animal trainer) and Kamila the Baboon. Aside from a bit of fun, this featurette doesn’t really do anything.

‘Running down the Town’ is a short piece on the fake town that was built, its uses and the complications of construction etc—nothing too exciting. The same can be said for ‘Walken’s World’, a short titbit with Christopher Walken going through his character’s motions.

Finally, the deleted scenes and trailers are pretty self-explanatory. The deleted scenes offer nothing in the way of solid entertainment and like with many discs that offer the same feature these days, you’ll only ever see it once.

All in all, and aside from the real meat of the extras (the commentaries) the remainder of the disc is basically an hour-length documentary split into several segments. But then again when this disc shines, it does so in a classy, possibly suave way.

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Overall
This is a truly fantastic disc hidden behind somewhat bland cover art and menus. Look beyond that and reap the rewards. The film is excellent the image pristine and the audio deep and satisfying. As for the extras, suffice to say they will keep you busy for quite a while and will no doubt give you all the background information you seek bar surfing the web for trivia sites.

If you’re into action flicks, then I would recommend this movie straight up, and if you’re into well produced DVD’s with top notch features, then I’d equally recommend it. It might not have been the high-profile movie that others were last year but fear not, its great value for money.


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