Jungleland

Movie review by
Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
Jungleland Movie Poster Image
Bare-knuckle boxing drama has violence, language, sex.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Loyalty and courage are shown on occasion. But for the most part, violence, theft, and other criminal behavior are the norm.

Positive Role Models

Stanley wants a better life for him and his brother, Lion. For him this represents money and material goods. He's also willing to cheat, steal, and lie in order to achieve this. However, he cares about Lion and believes in him. Lion generally does what Stanley tells him to do. But he eventually starts to stand up to him, particularly when he feels Stanley is in the wrong. Despite their occasional conflicts, both brothers are fiercely loyal to each other. On the surface, Sky shows little emotion and she manipulates, steals, and lies. However, she also shows a caring side, particularly to Lion. Most supporting characters are deeply unpleasant, violent, and involved in crime.

Violence

Numerous bare-knuckle boxing fights involve repeated punches to the head and upper body, resulting in much blood and people ending up half-unconscious. Blood is shown pouring out of mouths and cuts during the fights, and cuts and bruises are depicted after. A character fights two people at the same time, knocking them both to the ground. Someone is bound and gagged, and then stabbed in the thigh with a knife. In one scene, multiple characters are shot dead -- one is shot at first in the gut leaving a bloody wound, before being shot in the head. Some sparring in the gym. Two characters have a "play" fight. Passing reference to the death of a parent.

Sex

Two sex scenes -- one in an empty store room and another in the restroom of a diner -- both of which are brief and non-graphic. Two characters jump naked into a swimming pool. Character describes how their sperm was used to impregnate someone. Reference to oral sex. A lie is told about someone asking for a "blow job." Characters are seen shirtless and in just their underwear.

Language

There are several uses of the word "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," "a--holes," "d--k," "pr--ks," “c--k," "pissed," "blow job," and "damn." "God" is also used as an exclamation. A character is asked if she is a "pro" and a "hooker."

Consumerism

Character is motivated by money and the desire for material goods. They choose the most lavish hotel suite they can afford and make reference to buying an expensive car.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the main characters smokes cigarettes regularly. Characters drink alcohol. A character has their drink spiked with Xanax causing them to fall to the floor while drinking in a bar. Character prangs a car having drunk alcohol. Brief reference to suspicion that someone is taking drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jungleland is brutal drama about bare-knuckle boxing that contains bloody violence and strong language throughout. Brothers Stanley (Charlie Hunnam) and Lion Kaminski (Jack O'Connell) travel across country so Lion can participate in a no-holds-barred boxing match. Along the way they must deliver Sky (Jessica Barden) to a much-feared gangster. The fight scenes are graphic with punches to the head and body causing much bloodshed. The injuries sustained by Lion include cuts and bruises to the face. Guns are also used on occasion, with characters being shot in the gut and head. A knife is also slammed into someone's thigh. There is strong language throughout including use of "f--k," "motherf----r," and "s--t," as well as sexual language such as "blow job." There are two brief sex scenes, neither of which feature much nudity. Two characters do jump in a pool naked, but the scene is filmed at such a distance that little is seen. A character has their drink spiked by Xanax causing them to pass out on the floor. Stanley smokes on several occasions and he is also shown to be motivated by money and material goods. He also steals and cheats. However, both Stanley and Lion show loyalty toward each other, and Sky too shows a caring side.

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What's the story?

JUNGLELAND finds brothers Stanley (Charlie Hunnam) and Lion Kaminski (Jack O'Connell) with no money and no place to live. When they are given an opportunity for Lion to fight in a bare-knuckle boxing match with large prize money on offer, they make the journey across country to take part in the fight. However, there's a catch. They must deliver a young woman to a feared gangster on the way.

Is it any good?

Jungleland treads such a tried and tested path that ultimately it suffers from being too predictable. From the two underdog blue-collar siblings looking for a final payday, to the gangsters whose pocket they're in, there's nothing we haven't seen before. Yet despite the familiarity, the story -- which essentially takes the form of a road trip -- remains gripping, even if you're fairly sure you know where the final destination will be.

The film is also helped by strong performances across the board from three British actors, who not only manage to nail their U.S. accents, but also provide layered performances that give the film some much needed depth. O'Connell gives a subdued performance as Lion, a man who is also capable of brutal violence. In contrast, Hunnam's Stanley is the animated, happy-go-lucky older brother, whose reckless behavior gets them into increasingly dangerous situations. This includes being forced to ferry the sharp tongued, yet deeply sympathetic Sky -- brilliantly played by Jessica Barden -- from one gangster to another. Get past the cliched storytelling and you'll find a hard-punching -- if not knockout -- drama.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Jungleland. Did it seem realistic to you? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Talk about the strong language in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?

  • How was sex portrayed in the movie? Was it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How would you describe the relationship between Stanley and Lion? Did they seem close? Talk about your own relationships with your brothers or sisters. What do you think makes a good sibling relationship?

Movie details

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