We’ve had MMA fighting covered with the recent release of ‘Huracan‘ and now we have Jungleland offering up the joys of bare knuckle fighting most recently seen when a Gemma Collins took issue with a TV producer who refused to let her present a series about Swiss finishing schools. Charlie Hunnam and Jack O Connell play Stan and Lion Kaminski respectively manager and fighter living an almost hand to mouth existence as they squat in an empty house at night and working as a sewing machinist in the day.
It’s Stan who is to blame for their predicament having tried to bribe a referee and losing Lion his boxing licence and now, rather than being a punchy pugilist, he’s sewing socks in a clothing factory. It only gets worse when Stan having loaned money from gangster Pepper (Jonathan Majors) blows it betting on his brothers fight. In hock to Pepper the pair are offered a way out – a £100K prize fight called Jungleland in Reno but in turn they have to drive a young girl Sky (Jessica Barden) and deliver her to mob man Yates. …….effectively becoming people traffickers something which Lion is far from happy about and gradually bonds with a wily Sky.
At its heart Jungleland is a road movie so as the three drive to the prize fight the brotherly bond becomes ever more fractured with Sky taking advantage of how easily he can be influenced to her own ends because the last place she wants is to be delivered into the hands of Yates and it all becomes clear why when they do meet him. Sky is not all she appears and like Lion both are ultimately being used by others for their bodies. It’s a great performance by Jessica Bardem who looks far far younger than her real life age of 28.
Jungleland does have the stereotypical emotional boxer, the trigger hair tempered brother and the girl who comes between the pair of them but there are three impressive performances here. Hunnam has veered between less than successful blockbusters (King Arthur) to great crowd pleasers (The Gentlemen) to dramatic roles and here he’s a dreamer but losing control of his brother. O’Connell’s is much more subdued still looking for the break out star role which ‘Money Monster‘ didn’t deliver on. Jungleland won’t change that and is far more of a performance piece as he begins to push back against his brother whilst falling for Sky whose background is slowly revealed. Running at only 90 minutes there’s enough going on in Jungleland to keep it moving along as the trio encounter all manner of troubles with their predicament really ramping up in the third act resulting in a bittersweet end. This is well worth watching
Here’s the Jungleland trailer…….