By Jennifer Green,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Graphic violence, sex in suspenseful Mexican mystery.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Nature has its own rules. Humans cannot dominate nature and are limited by their own weaknesses.
Positive Role Models
An indigenous man seems to hold more insight and traditional wisdom about the jungle and its creatures than some of the others. A woman takes charge of her own sexual encounters. Other men behave violently, selfishly, and out of greed or unchecked desire. The cast is diverse and multiple languages are spoken.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic violence throughout that includes a man forcing himself on a woman and multiple people being shot and killed, tied up, left for dead, falling from trees, eaten by animals, including ants and a tiger. A couple of scenes involving gun shots show a lot of blood; in one case, blood splatters on a person's face when another is shot. One man cries when his brother is shot and killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Men feel burning desire for a woman and have trouble controlling themselves. The woman initiates sex with one of the men -- we see them kissing and part of his naked bottom from behind. Another man and woman have sex in the jungle, which we also see from behind the man with no intimate body parts exposed. A woman asks her female friend what it feels like to be with a man as she has never been "touched" before.
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"Damn," "hell," "fool," "pee." This film was reviewed in the original Spanish, Mayan, and English with English subtitles.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Men regularly smoke and drink from a glass bottle with a clear liquid in it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tragic Jungle, set in the Mayan jungle, contains graphic violence, some sex, and sexual violence. The story, filmed in Spanish, Mayan, and English and set deep in the jungle on what is today the border between Mexico and Belize, involves suspense as well as allusions to Mayan myth. After being shot and left for dead by one group of men, a woman is captured by another group of men who keep her tied up, eye her lustfully, and use her as bait to attack others. The group's leader insists the men not touch the woman, but then he drags her into the jungle and forces himself on her. Another man treats her more kindly, removing the ropes around her ankles, and she initiates a sexual encounter with him (they kiss and his bare bottom is shown). There's one other sex scene involving two other characters with no intimate body parts shown. Language in the English subtitles includes "hell," "damn," "fool," and "pee." Expect to see people killed close up and in a variety of gory ways. In one case, a shoot-out leaves several men dead. In another, a man is shot and his blood splatters onto a woman's face. Others are left behind to die, fall to their death from trees, or get eaten by animals -- including ants and a tiger. A man cries when his brother is shot and killed. Men regularly smoke and drink from a glass bottle with a clear liquid in it.
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What's the Story?
At the start of TRAGIC JUNGLE, English-speaking Agnes (Indira Rubie Adrewin) and a female companion are escaping British Honduras (today Belize) for Mexico to avoid capture by an English man (Dale Carley) Agnes has apparently rejected and who now wants her dead. Her friend and their guide are killed, and Agnes is left for dead with a gunshot wound to her side. She's found the next day by a man who takes her back to his camp, where a group of men work collecting gum from trees. They hold her hostage, and their desire for her grows by the day, causing tension among them. They make a collective decision concerning their livelihoods and future that will put all of their lives at risk.
Is It Any Good?
The Mayan jungle and the local myth of a femme fatale known as Xtabay give form and meaning to this suspenseful Mexican mystery. Most viewers will have to take to Google to grasp the connections between Xtabay and Agnes in Tragic Jungle (Selva Trágica). But even without fully understanding the myth or the historical and geographical setting, and despite Agnes's lack of spoken lines, there are enough clues to convey that all is not as it appears with the mysterious woman. The actors comprising the excellent, expressive male cast have more to work with, as the true nature of each of them must inevitably rise to the surface in the face of temptation and conflict.
This story is more wretched than tragic, and it unfolds slowly and deliberately. The life of man and woman -- especially here and then -- was indeed nasty, brutish, and short, but the majestic jungle endures. It can't have been easy to shoot this film, but it pays off. The camera is placed at all kinds of interesting angles to capture the lush, disorientating, disconcerting setting. Animals small and large loom, their noises rising and falling on the wind. Crocodiles, tigers, monkeys, ants, and more lurk at every turn. Rain pours down out of nowhere. Fog settles on top of the river, making dawn and dusk indistinguishable. The jungle is a character unto itself, and it may be the most memorable aspect of the movie.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the myth of Xtabay, referenced in Tragic Jungle. Where could you go for more information about her? Can you connect aspects of the mythical character to the portrayal of Agnes in the movie?
One of the indigenous men narrates the film at moments and seems to possess ancient wisdom about the jungle. What were some of his warnings?
Agnes's character has very few spoken lines in the film. How did this affect your understanding or interest in her character?
- On DVD or streaming: June 9, 2021
- Cast: Indira Rubie Andrewin, Gilberto Barraza, Mariano Tun Xool
- Director: Yulene Olaizola
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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