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Film / The Jungle Book (1994)

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The Jungle Book (or Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book) is a 1994 film directed by Stephen Sommers, loosely based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and starring Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli.

A Walt Disney Pictures film, it includes several shout-outs to Disney's 1967 animated film version, including an orangutan nicknamed "King Louie".

Followed by two prequels with none of the same cast, Disney's The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story, and The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, which was made by the same producers of the 1994 version but without Disney's involvement. There was also a computer game released in 1996 which was done in Full Motion Video, which utilized clips from the movie as well.

Not to be confused with Jungle Book, the 1942 film starring Sabu as Mowgli, or with the live-action/CGI adaptation of the Disney animated movie that was released in April 2016.


The Jungle Book provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Shere Khan is the Big Bad of the original novel, as well as in Disney's adaptations, but here, he is merely the ruthless enforcer of jungle law who accepts Mowgli once they meet face to face.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Kaa is portrayed as a dragonlike monster who King Louie uses to protect the treasure from thieves. King Louie, who also is affected by it, sent Kaa out to kill Mowgli before Mowgli used a knife on the snake. Although King Louie and Kaa are indiscriminate, as they also dealt with Boone much later in the movie.
  • Age Lift: Baloo in other versions is much older than Mowgli and one of his mentors. This version he is much younger, as a child Mowgli meets him as a bear cub.
  • Agony of the Feet: Mowgli is being chased by some angry soldiers and runs across a bed of hot coals. Despite being barefoot, he doesn't seem to notice it. When the soldiers try to follow, they burn their feet despite wearing boots.
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  • Alas, Poor Villain: Wilkins, while a Jerkass and a Dirty Coward, is easily the least evil out of the human villains. It's apparent that he sides with Boone and the others only out of greed and peer pressure rather than genuine malice. During the journey to the lost city, Wilkins is killed by Shere Khan without a chance to redeem himself.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The international release of the movie has Two Different Worlds by Kenny Loggins.
  • Anti-Villain: Shere Khan. He's a ruthless killer and even described as "the Devil" by Buldeo, but he kills only to preserve the law of the jungle. In the end, he even accepts Mowgli in the jungle and makes him the new keeper of the jungle law.
  • Ax-Crazy: Harley and Tabaqui, and by the film's finale, Boone as well.
  • Berserk Button: Shere Khan doesn't take kindly to those who kill animals for pleasure rather than food.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Wilkins screams at the jungle animals to be quiet.
  • Butt-Monkey: Wilkins is constantly on the receiving end — being told to shut up by others or tormented, especially by Harley in one scene.
  • Canon Foreigner: Geoffrey Brydon, Katherine Anne "Kitty" Brydon, Dr. Julius Plumford, and William "Billy" Boone.
  • Chekhov's Gun: There are two of them in this movie.
    • When they were kids, Kitty has given Mowgli her mother's bracelet as a gift before they were seperated. Mowgli kept it for the years he was in the jungle and when they've reunited, the adult Kitty recognized the wild man as her childhood friend.
    • The dagger Mowgli grabbed to defend himself from Kaa in the Monkey City. Later, it was taken by Buldeo, which tipped the villains of the lost treasure of the City of Hanuman.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The crotch-kick that Mowgli inflicts on his enemies (Harley in particular) later serves to save Mowgli's life.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Cary Elwes' performance as William Boone is very cartoonish and hammy.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Being raised by animals, Mowgli often uses various tricks, like biting or kicking someone in the "sweets".
  • The Comically Serious: Dr. Plumford.
  • Composite Character:
    • Another Tabaqui example, like the Animated Adaptation, Shere Khan's jackal lackey is absent, though the name is given to Boone's guide. Curiously a more accurate rendition of the novel's Tabaqui also appears in Mowgli's Story however.
    • Kaa's role as the guardian of the treasure in the temple is that of White Hood, a white cobra from the book.
    • Mowgli's father is named Nathoo, which is the same name as Messua's deceased son in The Jungle Book. In fact, Nathoo was also killed by a tiger in the book (presumably Shere Khan).
  • Cool Pet: A young Mowgli had a wolf pup that also grew up with him in the jungle.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The villains — Boone and Wilkins both wear beige uniforms and white long-sleeved shirts that indicate their upper-class English background, Harley wears the same beige uniform except for a green shirt that shows his militant side, Buldeo wears purple-and-black clothing just as dark as his past and Tabaqui's crimson tunic only adds to his devilish appearance.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Buldeo. He gets caught in a booby-trapped crypt which begins lowering a stone ceiling and simultaneously filling the crypt with tonnes of sand, weighing Buldeo down and filling the gunshot wound on his leg. Ouch. In agony, he crawls out of the enormous pile of sand and desperately tries to escape but the crypt is sealed shut, trapping him in the tiny narrow space to suffocate. Rated PG.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kitty becomes this towards Boone in the second half of the movie.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: This film pulls no punches in depicting the British colonial mindset regarding India. While the villains are clearly depicted as being outright racist towards Mowgli, calling him a savage and other derogatory names, even the most sympathetic British characters, such as Kitty and Colonel Brydon do have their moments. One prime example of this is that when Kitty tells her father that the strange man is Mowgli, she says it is their duty to help him. While Kitty is portrayed as genuinely wanting to help him, and Brydon openly shows a deep respect towards Mowgli, the use of the term duty indicates that they still have a colonial mindset.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the book, Buldeo is simply chased away as his village is destroyed by the jungle animals (which Mowgli engineered). In this movie, he is buried alive.
  • Death by Childbirth: Brydon had said that both Kitty's and Mowgli's mothers died while bringing them into the world.
  • Death by Materialism: Boone sinks in the water due to being dragged down by all the gold he took from the temple...dragged down by his own greed. He doesn't drown though...Kaa follows him into the water and takes him out instead. Mowgli said it with, "This treasure only brings death".
  • Death Cry Echo: As Wilkins is mauled by Shere Kahn, Boone and Kitty hear his final, agonised scream.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most of the animal characters, while the movie focus more on Mowgli's interaction with other humans.
  • Dirty Coward: Wilkins and Buldeo both qualify.
  • Disney Death: Baloo AGAIN.
  • Disney Villain Death: Tabaqui suffers a pretty violent one by Disney standards. The impact is heard, but thankfully not seen...
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Buldeo allowed Mowgli's father Nathoo to be killed by Shere Khan for being reprimanded: "Would you allow someone to break into your house and steal your food?"
  • The Dragon: Kaa appears to be this to King Louis, who summons him when someone attempts to steal treasure, though even Louis fears him.
  • Dragon Hoard: The treasure vault in the monkeys' lost city is inhabited by a huge python (presumably Kaa) which attacks anyone who attempts to take something from the treasure.
  • The Dreaded: Shere Khan
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: A wise man told young Mowgli in his dream that he would confront Shere Khan without fear and become a "creature of the jungle".
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: "Damn you, Wilkins!" Spoken by Harley when Wilkins fails to save him from drowning in quicksand despite his best efforts.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Tabaqui and Buldeo were surprised by Boone's indifferent attitude towards Harley's death.
  • Evil Brit: Boone and Harley. Somewhat averted with Wilkins.
  • Evil Former Friend: Colonel Brydon regards Buldeo as this.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Louis and Kaa are no kinder to Boone and his men than they are to Mowgli. Even Shere Khan holds Boone and his men in disgust as they shot down Baloo for fun, even mauling one of them (Wilkins) to death.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Everyone:
    • Harley: Drowns in quicksand.
    • Buldeo: Buried alive.
    • Wilkins: Mauled by Shere Khan.
    • Boone: Killed by Kaa.
    • Tabaqui: Skull crushed.
    • Much earlier Nathoo was also mauled by Shere Khan.
  • Fantastic Racism: It's possible Shere Khan hates humans, like his animated counterpart, because they don't respect the jungle law.
  • Five-Man Band: The villains.
    • Big Bad: Boone; the main antagonist.
    • The Dragon: Buldeo; Boone's chief partner in the plan to get the treasure.
    • The Evil Genius: Tabaqui; the jungle guide who knows about its dangers the most.
    • The Brute: Harley; big, stupid and vicious.
    • The Dark Chick: Wilkins; Boone's lackey with a distinct whiney personality.
  • Flat Character: Boone and his men are all one-dimensional characters and their only motivation is to find treasure.
  • Genius Bruiser: Tabaqui. In addition to his knowledge and expertise, he is also suprisingly strong and stealthy, being able to sneak up on his victims, lift a small boulder and overpower Mowgli who is twice his build, despite Tabaqui's greater height.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Dr. Plumford teaching Mowgli about people: "Man, woman, woman. One man. Two women. Lucky man."
  • Groin Attack: Harley suffered a kick in his "sweets" from Mowgli, twice. Later used against Tabaqui.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Tabaqui.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: The film primarily focuses on Mowgli's interaction with other humans, and his romance with Kitty, rather than his relationship with the various animals of the jungle.
  • Humans Kill Wantonly: Mowgli explains that animals only kill to eat or to keep from being eaten. He doesn't understand the concept of killing out of hatred or sport and is not impressed when one of the hunters tries to explain it to him.
  • Hypocrite: Boone doesn't bat so much as an eyelid when Harley is taken by quicksand, however later that day, when Tabaqui is killed, Kitty (making fun of Boone) dismisses the situation as a "shame", whereupon Boone looks at her incredulously - apparently forgetting his lack of remorse earlier. In fact, after Tabaqui dies, it's then that he wants Mowgli dead.note 
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Was promoted as Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, though it bears little in common with the book.
  • Jungle Opera: Played surprisingly straight, considering it was made in 1994.
  • Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: A couple instances of this throughout the film, which is especially confusing since the jungle is in India.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: Said word-for-word by Wilkins, while he complains about trekking through the jungle in one sequence.
  • Karmic Death:
    • In the film's opening, Buldeo's life is saved by Nathoo (Mowgli's father) and rather than return the favor, he leaves Nathoo to die. In the film's climax, Buldeo dies screaming for help that never comes.
    • The same can be said for Boone, whose greed for treasure, along with his desire to kill others for sport, lack of concern over the loss of his men (including Buldeo), and having Kitty to himself, proved to be his downfall as Kaa scares him into a water moat. There, the bag of treasure that he's holding onto drags him down where skeletal remains of Kaa's past victims who sought the treasure as well, a revelation that horrifies Boone before meeting his end at the jaws of Kaa.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Mowgli dubbing the lead orangutan "King Louis" after earlier seeing a portrait of the French king wearing a similar crown.
  • Loves Only Gold: Billy Boone makes it very clear near the end that he loves the treasure more than Kitty.
    Billy: All right, then! Go! Go with your jungle boy! I got what I came for! I don't need you!
  • Manipulative Bastard: Boone tries to propose to Kitty, but she gives a rather vague "I don't know what to say". Later during a Ball, when he sees Mowgli waltzing with Kitty, Boone uses it to his advantage to pull an underhanded move. He approaches Brydon and tells him Kitty accepted his proposal, prompting Brydon to make it a big announcement in front of everyone whilst putting Kitty in an uncomfortable position to accept the engagement.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Once again, King Louie is an orangutan, which are not native to India. Kaa is the worst offender here as he's an anaconda (a snake from South America) rather than being an Indian or reticulated python.
  • Missing Mom: Mowgli and Kitty's mothers died in childbirth.
  • Montage: Kitty and Plumford reintroducing Mowgli into civilization.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jason Scott Lee in a loincloth, ladies?
  • Mythology Gag:
    • "All the bare necessities of life."
    • Buldeo called Mowgli a "man cub".
    • The inclusion of King Louie.
    • Also, Bagheera is the one who leads Mowgli to the wolf pack in both this and Disney's version.
    • The red flowers.
  • Narrator: Kitty's father, Geoffrey Brydon
  • Nature Hero: Mowgli
  • Nice Hat: Once back in civilization, Mowgli takes notice of a portrait of Louis XIV, particularly his crown similar to the one he saw the lead orangutan wearing.
    Mowgli: [to Kitty] If you see him, tell him I know who took his hat.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Shere Khan displays one twice during his attack at the beginning of the film. And he doesn't just bare his teeth threateningly, he looks downright POSSESSED!
    • Kaa, in both of his scenes, appears to scowl menacingly at his victims.
    • Tabaqui's Slasher Smile.
  • Noble Savage: "I AM NOT A MAN! And I am not an animal."
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite playing an Indian character, Stefan Kalipha maintains his Trinidad accent.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Colonel Brydon.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Cary Elwes' accent slips and sounds American at times. Most notable example being this line during his sword fight with Mowgli. Particularly interesting case when you consider that Cary Elwes is genuinely British.
    Boone: What d'you think you have that I don't — huh?!
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Harley. He comes off as racist, snidely calling Mowgli his "little brown brother" twice. Also, Boone mispronounces "Maharajah" as "Maharajee" in one scene, denoting his disregard for Indian culture.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Wilkins. He tries to explain himself to Colonel Brydon on his betrayal, only to be silenced by Boone.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Harley even explicitly states "It's sucking me down!" while struggling.
  • Red String of Fate: Mowgli and Kitty
  • The Remake: Arguably a remake of the 1942 film, which it probably owes more to than to the original book. (Definitely not a remake of the Disney animated film; it started as an independent production before Disney became involved.)
  • Running Gag: The Colonel's curious resentment of elephants.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: When Colonel Brydon scolds Boone, Harley, and Wilkins for their betrayal, Harley just tells him off.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Kaa, you don't want to mess with him.
  • Standard Snippet: The movie really likes "The Blue Danube" as it plays multiple times throughout the film. Particularly used during Mowgli's lessons in civilization.
  • The Stoic: Tabaqui for most of his screen-time is quiet, reserved and mild-mannered despite his occasional Death Glare and somewhat irritable temperament. However, when he attacks and tries to kill Mowgli, he unleashes his bottled-up anger.
  • Super Doc: After Baloo is shot, Mowgli asks Dr. Plumford to heal his wounds. Although Dr. Plumford is a surgeon, he's more of a people doctor than an animal doctor. However he was successful in healing Baloo as shown in the finale.
  • Shout-Out: Soldiers chase Mowgli through a bed of hot coal, just as with Aladdin and the Palace Guards in Aladdin.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Mowgli, in a room filled with stuffed animals, imagines hearing them screaming, with each scream punctuated by a gunshot.
  • Temple of Doom: The Monkey City, a.k.a. the Lost City of Hanuman.
  • Unexplained Recovery: When Mowgli is attacked by Kaa, he manages to grab a dagger and stab Kaa several times. Later, Kaa reappears with no sign of injury.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Buldeo. Mowgli's father Nathoo saves him from Shere Khan and he flees, allowing the tiger to maul him to death. Years later, even when knowing who Mowgli is, Buldeo still tries to kill him.
    • Harley as well. He isn't too thankful that Wilkins at least tried to save him...
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: In this film, Grey Brother is apparently a stray wolf pup that became Mowgli's pet. He and Mowgli were both taken in by the wolf family.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After having his men killed, and defeated by Mowgli in the finale, Boone has undergo one of these. It was cut short by King Louie and Kaa.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Harley. An aggressive, violent and very Scottish man. He even calls Colonel Brydon a "silly wee man".
  • White Man's Burden: As the British colonial mindset is shown very firmly in this film, Kitty says it is their duty to help Mowgli when they realize he has returned. It is portrayed sympathetically, but it also sends a message that it still does have some racist connotations.
  • What Is Evil?: Mowgli doesn't understand the reason to kill other than protection and food. He doesn't know the meaning of "enemy" and "hate". Boone is a little annoyed when he tries to explain it.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Colonel Brydon, with elephants.
  • Work Info Title: Well, it's an adaptation of an actual book.
  • You Are What You Hate: Even though they believe Mowgli to be a "vicious and uncivilized savage", that doesn't stop Boone and Tabaqui from resorting to primitive and barbaric methods in attempts to kill him. Harley, Wilkins and Buldeo at the very least rely on their guns.
  • You Killed My Father: Shere Khan killed Mowgli's father when he was a young child. Subverted that Mowgli doesn't avenge him by killing Shere Khan because he didn't know and wouldn't if he did since killing for vengeance is against the Jungle Law, and in any case, Shere Khan only killed his father because he stopped him from killing his real target, Buldeo... who returned the favor by running away, leaving him to die. Though Mowgli does, unknowingly, avenge him when he indirectly left a wounded Buldeo in the salt trap.

Tropes related to The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story (1998 live-action movie):


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