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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, the live-action/CGI adaptation of the Disney animated movie that was released in April 2016, or the Warner Brothers 2018 reboot Mowgli.

The Jungle Book provides examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: Unlike Bagheera and the wolfpack, who maul numerous Mooks to death without hesitation, Baloo in this adaptation appears completely docile around humans and animals alike, never doing anything more than roar (this gets him easily shot by the villain and severely wounded).
  • Adaptational Heroism: Shere Khan is the 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: A little zigzagged with Kaa, as he is portrayed as a dragonlike monster who King Louie uses to protect the treasure from thieves. Same with King Louie, who also is affected by it, sending Kaa out to kill Mowgli before Mowgli uses a knife on the snake. However, they willingly helped Mowgli in dealing with Boone much later in the movie.
    • Played straight with Buldeo. In the original novel, Buldeo was just an arrogant hunter who plays off the villagers' superstition to turn against Mowgli for his own ambitions. Here, he became a wanted outlaw for provoking Shere Khan to murder Mowgli's father and two British soldiers, and is more sadistic and willing in his intents to help Boone and the others find the treasure in the jungle ruins, even if it means murdering several of Brydon's loyal soldiers and taking Brydon and Kitty hostage.
  • 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 and feels no pain, causing several villagers to applaud for him. When the soldiers try to follow, they burn their feet despite wearing boots.
  • 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 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.
    • Even King Louie and Kaa could be counted for a minor reason as they rightfully took down Boone for all the trouble he caused to Mowgli, Kitty and their loved ones.
  • 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.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Bagheera is a gentle panther who saves the young Mowgli and brings him and Grey Brother to the wolf pack, who are more than willing to take in both Mowgli and Grey Brother as their own. However, both Bagheera and the wolves won't hesitate to maul Boone's bandits to death as they tried to threaten Mowgli and his friends.
  • Big Bad: One would expect it would be either Shere Khan (due to his mistrust towards humankind for their sense of killing for sport and fun) or Buldeo (as his previous actions is what caused Mowgli to be separated from civilization for a long time). However, that role ends up being passed down to Captain William Boone, who is a much bigger threat to Mowgli as he intends to coerce the latter into leading to the treasure palace hidden in the jungle by threatening his loved ones. Boone also kept Buldeo hidden away from the authorities; he even gloated that he would kill Shere Khan for his skin.
  • Canon Foreigner: Geoffrey Brydon, Katherine Anne "Kitty" Brydon, Dr. Julius Plumford, William "Billy" Boone, John Wilkins and Sergeant Harley.
  • 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 separated. 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.
  • 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 ruthless jungle 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).
  • 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 order to save his adoptive parents). In this movie, he is buried alive inside a tomb in revenge for the death of Mowgli's father.
  • Death by Childbirth: Brydon had said that both Kitty's and Mowgli's mothers died while bringing them into the world.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Kaa. King Louie, despite being able to summon him, is somewhat unnerved by his presence; and Mowgli, despite having beaten him once, is not keen on having a rematch.
  • Durable Death Trap: The booby-trapped crypt in the lost city has held up pretty well, despite being thousands of years old.
  • Engineered Heroics: Shortly after Mowgli and Kitty met for the first time as adults, Kitty crossed paths with Baloo. Prompting Mowgli to try to "rescue" her by getting in a wrestling match. When Kitty meets Baloo again when Mowgli formally introduced him, she asked if it was the bear he tried to save her from.
  • Evil Brit: Boone and Harley. Somewhat averted with Wilkins.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Louie 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:
    • Nathoo, Sergeant Clairborne and an unnamed sentry: Mauled to death by Shere Khan.
    • Several of Brydon's soldiers: Killed by bandits sent by Boone.
    • Several of Boone's bandits: Mauled to death by Bagheera and the wolves.
    • Harley: Drowned in quicksand.
    • Tabaqui: Pushed off a cliff by Mowgli.
    • Wilkins: Mauled to death by Shere Khan.
    • Buldeo: Buried alive inside a tomb.
    • Boone: Devoured by Kaa.
  • Fantastic Racism: It's possible Shere Khan hates humans, like his animated counterpart, because they don't respect the jungle law due to their desire of killing animals for sport and fun. However, he will spare the humans who do respect the law and only attack those who violate the law.
  • Flat Character: Boone and his men are all one-dimensional characters and their only motivation is to find treasure.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: The movie is called El Libro de la Selva: La Aventura Continúa (The Jungle Book: The Adventure Continues) in Hispanic countries. It seems it was added to give the impression it's a sequel of sorts to the original animated movie despite them having zero continuity with each other.
  • For Want Of A Nail: The film's opening has three examples of this trope, and all of them are connected to Buldeo.
    • Had Buldeo and those two British sentries not killed some animals for the heck of it, Shere Khan never would have attacked the garrison.
    • Had Nathoo stepped aside and allowed Shere Khan to kill Buldeo, Shere Khan would have considered the matter settled and departed without causing any further damage.
    • Conversely, Buldeo could have prevented the rest of the movie from happening if he had simply shot the tiger when Nathoo gave him the chance (and encouragement) to do so, instead of running away like a coward.
  • Groin Attack: Harley suffered a kick in his "sweets" from Mowgli, twice. Later used against 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.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Was promoted as Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book to indicate it was not a straight live-action remake of the well-known animated film, though it also 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.
  • Kubrick Stare: Despite being a snake, Kaa seems to do this in closeups of his face before he strikes.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Mowgli dubbing the lead orangutan "King Louis" after earlier seeing a portrait of the French king wearing a similar crown.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Once again, King Louie is an orangutan, which are not native to India. Kaa is the worst offender here as he's played by an anaconda (a snake from South America) rather than being an Indian or reticulated python. There are also Ring-Tailed Lemurs.
  • Missing Mom: Mowgli and Kitty's mothers died in childbirth.
  • Montage: Kitty and Plumford reintroducing Mowgli into civilization.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • No Name Given: Unlike the other animals who are either named by Mowgli or already have names (like Shere Khan), Kaa is never named by anyone on-screen.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite playing an Indian character, Stefan Kalipha maintains his Trinidad accent.
    • Also, at 5 years old, Mowgli (an Indian boy) and Kitty (an English girl) both speak with blatantly American accents.
  • Punch Catch: During their first scuffle in the film, the much stronger Mowgli does this to Boone.
  • 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, Boone 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Vague Age: It's never specified exactly how many years it's been since Mowgli became stranded in the jungle at the age of five.note 
  • What Is Evil?: Upon being given a tour inside Boone's room where Boone shows him the weapons that he use to kill animals, Mowgli admits that he doesn't understand why some men want to kill for sport and the meaning of "enemy" and "hate". Boone is a little annoyed when he tries to explain it. It's only when Mowgli sees the heads and skins of the animals that Boone has killed over the past years, that he finally gets the point as he considers Boone to be despicable for his acts of killing to satisfy his desire for sport.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Colonel Brydon, with elephants, who constantly cause him trouble throughout the film.
  • 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 Nathoo 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. Also, Shere Khan only killed Nathoo because Nathoo stopped him from killing his real target Buldeo, who returned the favor by running away, leaving Nathoo to die. However, Mowgli does, unknowingly, avenge Nathoo's death years later in the ancient ruins when he indirectly leaves a wounded Buldeo to die; even at the end, Shere Khan openly regrets killing Nathoo after accepting Mowgli as a fellow creature.

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