Stanley owes Pepper, Jonathan Majors (“White Boy Rick”, “Da 5 Bloods”), a lot of money and Pepper is not the sort of man you want to owe money to.
Lion is a bareknuckle fighter and Pepper offers them both a way out of their predicament, enter Jungleland, a no-holds barred fight with $100,000 top prize.
All Stanley and Lion must do, mainly Stanley as he’s the overbearing brother, is take Sky, Englishwoman Jessica Barden (“Mindhorn”, “The Lobster”), somewhere first. Pepper insists, Stanley does not have much choice.
However, Sky isn’t who Pepper says she is and where the boys are taking her means she’ll most likely be killed, but if they don’t, they’ll be killed.
Lion was on course to be a great boxer, but lost his license after Stanley tried to bribe a referee. Now, he fights on his brothers’ instance, he’d sooner setup a dry cleaners.
Stanley ends up in the clutches of Yates, the man who wants Sky for himself, and it is up to Lion to rescue him, which he does, violently. This may have been ok, except that, whilst fleeing, Stanley drops his ID, of course.
This will come to bite him, badly, later and tee’s things up for a Rocky-esq comeback fight, stirring music and brotherly love scene.
If I sound cynical, it’s because I am. From the start Jungleland feels off. It’s slow, the three main protagonists are all British but playing American’s and it’s all set in America.
“It’s just acting”, yeah, I know, and that’s usually my argument, but we seem to be getting upset about everything these days and this does feel particularly odd, I mean, it’s not as if there’s a shortage of American actors.
That’s not to say Hunnam, O’Connell and Barden are bad, far from it, O’Connell is great in particular, it still just feels odd.
Then there’s the story which isn’t anything new; overbearing brother, woman arrives and the scene and upsets the apple cart, big brother gets a chance at redemption. Meh. Seen it all before and, whilst this is well acted, it doesn’t bring anything new.
There is a fabulous cameo from John Cullum as Yates. Fans of Northern Exposure will know Cullum as Holling Vincoeur, the bar owner, and here he plays a villain in that old man menacing way Hollywood seems to think villains go as they get older.
Jungleland could have been great, should have been great, but, despite some fine performances, a rousing soundtrack and it being all nicely put together, the story is all too familiar.