Verdict: Vidyut Jammwal delivers on the action while becoming the ultimate protector of elephants.
Known for Hollywood films like The Mask and Eraser, director Chuck Russell makes his debut in Bollywood with Junglee. This action-packed film aims not only to entertain but also to spread the message of the importance of protecting the majestic elephants who are ruthlessly hunted for ivory.
What’s Junglee About:
Raj (Vidyut Jammwal) returns home to his father’s elephant conservation sanctuary for his mother’s tenth death anniversary. A journalist named Meera (Asha Bhat), who wants to interview his father about his work with elephants, follows him along. Raj has become a veterinarian in the big city and has changed since he left, but the moment he returns, he is instantly reminded of his happy childhood days playing with his best friends, Shankara (Pooja Sawant) and Dev (Akshay Oberoi), and his best animal friend, Bhola the elephant. Even though everyone is happy that he’s back, all is not well in this scenic sanctuary as it’s running out of funds. Additionally, Dev’s father (Makarand Deshpande) has become an alcoholic, and poachers are hunting elephants for their tusks. Raj now has to face the deadliest poacher (Atul Kulkarni) of them all to protect everyone he loves.
The masterfully choreographed action scenes are the highlight of Junglee and they’re carried out expertly on the broad shoulders of Vidyut Jammwal. These scenes even manage to add a bit of comedic effect when it comes to Jammwal fighting off hordes of bad guys who keep underestimating his skills even when he uses everything from his fists to furniture to beat them one by one. However, Atul Kulkarni, who plays the villain in the film, proves to be a worthy opponent for him because he’s just as passionate about hunting the animals that the other is determined to protect.
The cinematography by Mark Irwin is also praise-worthy as the film shows many beautiful shots of the jungle and the elephants, at times even coming close to what you’d see in a nature documentary. Junglee has been filmed with real elephants instead of CGI, which makes it even more special when you see them interacting with humans. They even manage to steal the show by being some of the best parts of a scene. There are also a few other adorable animals in Junglee who get their small moments to shine.
But most importantly, Junglee successfully delivers the dangers that poachers present by showcasing the emotional connections between the pack of elephants and the human characters in the film. There are barely any Bollywood films that spark a conversation about conservation and Junglee fills this gap with its goal of presenting these issues to a wider audience.
What Could’ve Been Better:
There are a few dialogues in the film that feel a bit forced and some scenes will require you to stretch your suspension of disbelief a bit further. There are also some emotional moments that don’t quite land, but the action makes up for the rest.
Why You Should Watch:
If you love action films, Junglee is a must-watch. It has some energetic martial arts sequences that showcase Vidyut Jammwal’s skills at their very best. The almost two-hour-long film is also entertaining till the very end, concluding with the whole cast dancing to a fun song that’s about elephants.