Welcome To The Jungle (Blu-ray Review)

Welcome-To-The-JungleAction icon of the 80s and 90s, Jean-Claude Van Damme take his first roundhouse kick at comedy in Universal’s Welcome To The Jungle.  The film also stars Adam Brody, Rob Huebel, Megan Boone and Dennish Haysbert.  This film debuted at the Newport Beach Film Festival last year and has been currently making a limited theatrical run and been available via Video OnDemand for the last month.  It’s coming to Blu-ray very soon, and I’ve got your review covered right here.  Owner of Why So Blu?, Brian White is a big JCVD fan, so I hope he finds I honor the man appropriately with this review.  And, noteworthy, this is the site’s 2nd JCVD movie review in the last month.  As always, if you like the film or are interested, click the Amazon link at the bottom to pre-order and secure yourself a copy come release day!

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Chris is a weak little office worker who has just had one of his better ideas stolen by a former coworker and also lacks too much confidence to ask out the HR girl he has a crush on.  His office goes to a remote jungle on a team building exercise, led by ex-marine and team building coach Storm Rothchild.  When out on one of their early expeditions, the pilot is found dead Storm is later mauled by a tiger leaving the group helpless.  Most of the group ends up drugged by Phil, leading them to form a crazy tribe while Chris and the other 3 undrugged try and figure a way off of the island before things get even crazier.

Jean-Claude Van Damme takes his first foray into comedy with this little lower budget film, and needless to say he nails it.  The movies greatest strengths come when Van Damme is a part of the film.  It’s not bad without him, but the man commands the screen and sells his part better than the rest.  Maybe because we’ve not see him steep this far into the funny business that makes it new and fresh, but I loved every second JCVD was in frame and spouting of some incredibly funny lines with such sincerity and conviction.  The man knew exactly what to bring and how to bring it.

The rest of the film is this zany little comedy that actually manages to build some major stakes.  If you’re buying into what the film is selling, by the time we get to the 3rd act, things go from being quite funny to getting very real.  Its not super dark or anything, its just I must have found myself pretty invested in these characters to be really concerned with their fate.  The film was also demonstrating that it wasn’t afraid to “go there” or get pretty wacky, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

If you’re a fan of good comedy on television, then this film is kind of an all-star cast of people you tend to enjoy and like taking on bigger roles than they might normally have in bigger projects.  I was happy to see Eric Edelstein, someone who shows up as smaller roles on comedy shows and the like, get a pretty sizeable supporting role in this one.  Longtime fave Rob Huebel gets to exercise his chops, essentially playing the films villain.  The role allows him to just unleash his crazy.  Kristen Schaal also gets some time in the spotlight and brings her normal set of Kristen Schaal-type of comedy bits to the table.

Welcome To The Jungle was a solid little comedy that for me was mostly made good upon the screentime of Jean-Claude Van Damme.  The man just commanded his moments and sold every bit of his comedy perfectly.  There’d be a temptation by most actors with his background to maybe go a bit goofy, but the guy plays it straight and it works.  The movie lags a little when he takes a break for a while, but once he shows back up, the movie itself picks back up as well.  This is a decent enough middle of the road comedy that I did find myself having some fun with.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1

Clarity/Detail: The setting of the film provides for one gorgeous looking picture.  Detail is high, be it cracks on mud on skin or the leaves of the jungle.  The film is well lit (even in nighttime scenes) and you can pretty much discern fabrics on clothing and rust spots on a shelter found later.

Depth:  Every person and object is wonderfully well round and 3 dimensional.  There’s a good sense of scope in further shots on the jungle.

Black Levels:  This film’s blacks are quite rich and well represented.  Dark scenes still provide plenty of detail and do not hide or create less a sharp picture.

Color Reproduction:  From dull to bold, this image looks terrific.  The brown mud and the luscious greens on display are fantastic throughout the film

Flesh Tones:  Skin is consistent and heavily detailed.  You can make out facial wrinkles, blemishes, stubble and even little specs of mud present.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not encounter any in my viewing.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1 (Castilian & Latin), Thai DTS 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Swedish, Thai

Dynamics: The effect and such were good and clear.

Low Frequency Extension: At times the subwoofer was a little too much, mostly overdoing it early on with the score of the film.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Plenty of ambient noise and score.  If someone was yelling offscreen the track made full use of the rear speakers.

Dialogue Reproduction: Here’s the weakest link of the 5.1 track.  There were times where the dialogue kind of melded in with the score.  Also, I found instances of it peaking as well.  Some of the vocals between characters had inconsistent volumes and characteristics at times as well.  For about 75% of the feature, its fine, but noticeable instances do occur.

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This release comes with a digital copy of the film.  This looks like a skimpy amount of extras, but one of them is significant in length.

Behind The Scenes (HD, 59:13) – This is an hours length of on-set footage and cast interviews, as well as a couple make-up tests and rehearsals.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 1:25) – Its actually on one scene and just some walking and talking.

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I found Welcome To The Jungle to be a nice little “passing time” comedy.  I wasn’t expecting it to be insanely good or some well kept secret, but it made due on being an enjoyable passing of time for an hour and a half.  Its got some decent production value too.  This film is rated really low on some rating sites, I’ve noticed, but I think it’s much better than those scores will tell you.  It comes with a beautiful video presentation and a solid, but troubled at times, audio track.  There’s an hour long featurette with interviews and on-set footage that is a bit of an overload, but its there.  If you want to see Jean-Claude Van Damme punch into some different material than you’re used to, do not fear to tread into the jungle!



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Welcome To The Jungle (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Glad you liked this one!

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I really want to see this! JCVD seems to be just so self-aware that it makes it all that more enjoyable. He knows what’s up.