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I Bet You Didn’t See… Jungle

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Directed by: Greg McLean

Screenplay by: Justin Monjo

Based on: “Jungle” by Yossi Ghinsberg

Starring: Dan Radcliffe, Alex Russell, Thomas Kretschmann, Joel Jackson

Released: August 3rd, 2017

My Rating: 7/10

Contains Spoilers!!!

Jungle is an adaptation of the true story of Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg who, in the 1980’s, went on a trip to South America to see the Bolivian Amazon jungle. Along with two friends Marcus and Kevin, he finds a European guide, Karl, who claims to know of remote tribes very few people have seen. He convinces Yossi and his friends that he can guide them there. Soon, after seeing a tribe that the guide knows, the run into trouble within the jungle. After an accident within some rapids on the river, Yossi and the group are separated. The rest of the film shows how Yossi must try and survive the rain, humidity, hunger, and parasitic bugs.

I don’t want to ruin the ending, but I think you can guess it. However, there are a few things I won’t reveal.

The main thing I want to rant on about with this film is Daniel Radcliffe. Since Harry Potter finished in 2011, Radcliffe has tended to veer towards more independent and riskier films in terms of the box office. His name is what will sell films (hence why yours truly watched ‘Jungle’), and he has enough royalties from the Harry Potter franchise that he can pick and choose his scripts at will. Films like ‘Guns Akimbo’, ‘Swiss Army Man’, and ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend’ are entertainingly silly films but do stretch Radcliffe’s more comedic acting skills. ‘The Woman in Black’, ‘Escape from Pretoria’, and ‘Horns’ are far darker, more intense films. The latter three also highlight a talent for accents that Dan has, which ‘Jungle’ can be added to. In ‘The Woman in Black’ he keeps his English accent, ‘Horns’ has him putting on a very good American accent (his partner is American, and he splits his time between New York and London), ‘Escape from Pretoria’ is based in South Africa and Radcliffe’s Bush accent is superb, while in ‘Jungle’ his Israeli-American accent is different again and is very good.

Radcliffe went through big physical changes for the film

The film itself is a well-shot, slick running narrative. A lot of it was shot in Colombia and, as Producer describes in a promo clip for the film’s Premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival found on Screen Australia’s website, Radcliffe went through big physical changes for the film. He lost a lot of weight for the scenes within the jungle and really pushed himself. I think what I found to enjoy about this film is that while the cinematic exploits of this picture aren’t the revolutionary or ground-breaking, I felt its purpose was simply to tell a compelling story and using a well-known actor like Radcliffe who puts so much commitment into the role to sell itself. You also get a bit more out of it when you learn of the issues you get when you film in an actual jungle… flash flooding, changing river levels and remote access were issues overcome with the help of local crews and the Colombian film industry, who had started to build their profile around that time.

If you like Daniel Radcliffe, see this film. He has become one of those actors who cannot hide who he is but can transform himself into his characters and you forget that this is “the boy that lived”.

Ghinsberg and Radcliffe - that's a bit of a spoiler... sorry!

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