With Dwayne Johnson’s big-budget Jungle Cruise due out from Disney in a month or so, The Asylum was sure to be ready with their own cash in. And sure enough, here comes Jungle Run starring Richard Grieco and a bunch of people you’ve probably never heard of before fighting creatures rendered with questionable CGI.
Lebecq (Wade Hunt Williams, An Encounter with the Messiah, God Where Are You?) captain’s a charter boat in Brazil. Like all jungle boat captains, he drinks heavily and leaves everything to his crew Sark (Benjamin Bernard, Messiah) and Teese (Christian DeJesus). Despite offering private charters he’s managed to charter his boat out to both Amanda (Alyson Gorske, 616 Wilford Lane, Battle Star Wars) and Vera (Jamie Petitto, Geek USA).
Amanda and her brother Scott (Jack Pearson, Shark Season) are searching for their missing father Nathan (Richard Grieco, Minutes to Midnight, Attack of the Unknown). Vera runs the company that sent him into the jungle. Neither are happy to see each other. But that hostility is nothing compared to what they get from the local wildlife who work together to try and kill them. Could it have something to do with the strange artifact that got dug up in the prologue? Would The Asylum have spent money on it if it didn’t?
Jungle Run was written by Marc Gottlieb whose previous credits include Aquarium of the Dead and, one of the few Asylum films I like, Triassic World. The film is director Noah Luke’s first feature although he has considerable experience in the camera department on films ranging from Badlands of Kain to Asteroid-a-Geddon and Glenn Danzig’s upcoming Death Rider in the House of Vampires.
I have to admit, they’ve actually done a pretty good job. Being from The Asylum, Jungle Run has a lot more talk than action, but it’s kept interesting and not blatantly expository. There’s even the occasional gem like Lebecq’s gruff “Men die. Legends do not.” when talking about the jungle deity that may be responsible for what’s going on.
The animal attacks range from venomous dart frogs that look good individually but in groups resemble solid coloured hopping Easter eggs to kamikaze piranha that leap out of the water after their prey and are willing to die to sabotage the boat’s engine and try to chew through the boat’s hull.
Once they’re off the river and in the jungle there’s crocodiles, giant snakes, spiders and hostile tribes to deal with. As well as Curupira, a pissed-off Jungle God. Jungle Run had me thinking of movies like Curucu, Beast of the Amazon and The Flame Barrier that I would stay up to all hours watching on TV as a kid. That includes the kind of science that has giant Venus Flytraps growing in the Amazon Basin when the plant is only found in the Carolinas.
And just as those films had some pretty primitive effects, the CGI in Jungle Run is acceptable at best and frequently below even that low standard. . The scenes of Amanda fighting the giant snakes are particularly bad as is an attempt to simply insert the boat into footage of the Amazon.
Yesterday I had good things to say for Scott Jeffrey’s Hatched. Today I’m giving a thumbs up to something from The Asylum. That may be a sign of an impending apocalypse, or maybe I’m mellowing in my old age. If I start praising Rene Perez’s films head for the bunkers just to be safe.
Jungle Run is available to stream or buy on, appropriately enough, Amazon as well as other digital platforms. You can check The Asylum’s Facebook page for details.