Jungle Queen (2009)
Hi all, Nate here. As I type this it's been a few weeks since Nepal was smacked with Shiva's Hammer, and while we've already moved on from the story here in America (you guys! Kim Kardashian's ass was on E!News last night ZOMG!), it's still a daily cover on the BBC. As I see how bad the cities are, I got to wondering if Nepal had a movie industry, and if so, did they ever make crappy, low-budget b-movies about stay-at-home dad apes, dangerous gangs, and kung fu chicks in Tarzan bikinis. I think you know the answer to that...
First off, no, this movie has no subtitles (that aren't Hindi), and, no, I don't speak Nepali, so, no, I don't have a clue what's actually going on half the time. Ok, more like 95% of the time. But that's never stopped me from reviewing a movie before, right? So I'm just going to describe it as I see it, and this will naturally be fraught with danger.
We open with a set-piece action scene (yes!). A truck full of hooligans blows through a roadblock and the cops pursue. It slows down conveniently for a ponytail cop (?) to leap on and climb up on the roof, which is harder than it seems because he's wearing painfully tight leather pants and a silk clubbing shirt borrowed from the prop locker of Night at the Roxbury. Some goons jump up and they and LeatherPantsCop have a karate fight on the roof of the moving truck! Awesome, you say? No so much because the wide shots of the truck show it crawling along at a half-mile an hour at most, even though the frequent insert shots of the tires suggest it's going 85 in fifth gear. Wow, roads in Nepal suck, potholed ruins with no lines or signs, no fun to drive there.
Too slow for safety harnesses.
Nepali gay porn?
Off now to some gangster dudes outside on a patio, discussing what just happened and swearing revenge. They are sitting around a card table on plastic lawn chairs like you can buy for 7 bucks at Walmart. Looking back, virtually none of this movie is filmed indoors, not even for scenes that would logically call for interiors shots. They couldn't afford to rent a house for the afternoon? Could they not afford any lighting rigs for interior shots and had to film everything outdoors in sunlight? Do you have to have expensive permits to film indoors in Nepal? Nothing would surprise me in this movie.
Not a very successful gang...
Since, in the final analysis, we spend more screen time with these ruffians than any other characters in the whole movie, here they are with their back-projected solo shots...
No, I don't know any names.
Now to the the Nepali Army HQ (I guess), where LeatherPantsCop is reporting in. I know it's the HQ because they have a gas station map of Nepal scotch-taped to the wall behind them and there's a elementary school globe front and center on the desk. Hey, they have the exact same plastic lawn chairs as the goons! Man, this movie's budget must have been tiny. Is the General talking directly to the camera? Why? What could he possibly be saying that would require a fourth wall break? No other character in the movie does this, btw.
Love the blue bed sheet.
LeatherPantsCop and that globe.
Now we meet LeatherPantsCop's girlfriend (wife?), who is kinda chubs but pretty cute. They seem to be in mushy love and we see lots of snuggly cozy stuff, Nepali censors must be a lot more lax than those in India. I notice here that this entire movie is filled with crazy amounts of insert close-up shots of faces doing various expressions, just randomly inserted without any sense of continuity or pace. Film editing was lacking here, but I don't think anyone in the audience cared.
Just 9 minutes in and LeatherPantsCop starts to sing?????? This is a musical? Or is this just your typical Bollywood-style rip-off with some songs? Yes. What we get is a music video shot in a field full of grazing cows with 23 outfit changes between cuts. Now they're singing by the murkiest, most algae infested swimming pool I've ever seen and there's a Kenny G saxophone solo. Now she's wearing low-rise skinny jeans like she's an Alabama sorority pledge from 2004. Is that really a velour fuchsia Adidas track suit he's wearing? Why is he suddenly standing on that piece of driftwood singing like he's Billy Ray Cyrus? During the chorus they ride an elephant across a river and then run through a goat pasture, ok. Then she's in a sari and they're in a canoe? Did she just grab her own boobs? Did he just sniff her bellybutton? What the hell, movie? And now they're singling while holding a baby? Is that their baby? Who is that baby? I have no response for any this, I just want it to end. And it does, seven minutes later (are all Nepali songs this long?).
Strike a pose.
Uh, stop that.
Immediately after that, LeatherPantsCop and his ladyfriend are walking through the woods with a baby. As a parent the first thing I notice is that they have no diaper bag and she has no purse. Do Nepali women not carry purses? Suddently they are attacked by those gangsters from before with the plastic chairs! LeatherPantsCop is a karate master but so is everyone else in the nation, it seems, and it's a rough fight (I wouldn't want to invade Nepal). The fight is kinda awesome in a cheap way with “Kung Fu Thwack!” sounds foley'd in for every glancing glow or solid hit. Not that there are many solid hits, clearly the stuntmen are trying really, really hard not to hurt the main actor or his pretty face. Hey editor, just speed up the film for a few milliseconds right at the point of impact, it makes it seem like those weak wavey punches are actually hurting.
I block your foot with my foot!
Thanks for not running away.
OMG, LeatherPantsCop is in trouble! He's getting the shit beat out of him and now one of the main bad guys (the one who looks like my Uber driver last time I was in Chicago) is trying to rape his girlfriend! He smacks her in the face and knocks her down and drags her about by her foot, that's unnecessarily graphic. Seeing this, LeatherPantsCop digs deep and enters RAGE MODE and rips his shirt off before pushing his Karate Meter up to 11. Now he's leaping around in the trees, defying gravity like he's in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! Ha, you can see the wires in one shot, ohmygod that's terrible. What's this? The Evil Kingpin shows up and draws a gun and straight up murders LeatherPantsCop and his girlfriend??? If that was the intent, why didn't any of his goons bring a gun to start with and save themselves all the bruises and contusions? And wow that's a lot of (fake) blood, they're just covered in it. This is not a family-friendly movie by any means, despite the Bollywoodesque song-and-dance number before.
Not looking good for her.
Oww, that hurts!
Dying holding hands.
Hey, remember the baby? I forgot, too, but there she is, just hanging out on the ground, chewing her fingers, watching her parents get gunned down, no lasting lifelong emotional trauma there. This is how Batman started, you know. Hey, this little gorilla appears and just saunters over and picks up the kid. That is clearly a midget in a suit, a very bad suit. A really, truly bad suit.
Baby Luke does this when he's nervous, too.
Wait, wait, wait, are we really going to do this? Is the ape going to raise the little girl out in the jungle? Boom, fastforward! Now the toddler is like 6-years old and is wearing a bikini bottom made from the fakest looking Dollar Store silk flowers. I don't know her name, but she's clearly Mowgli (Mowglina?) from The Jungle Book. Kipling would so toss his cookies at this movie. Mowglina is trained by her ape dad how to swing on ropes, crawl through the bush, climb trees, and ride elephants, you know, ninja stuff. The little girl is topless, which is kinda weird, we don't have topless girls at that age in any Western movie. So in the winter the ape knits her a leaf parka? Does this mean that LeatherPantsCop and his girlfriend are done with the movie? All that set-up and even a musical number and they're gone? Yes.
Teach me how to vine swing.
I want to ride an elephant!
The kingpin and his goon are back, I guess to find and kill Mowglina, who they somehow know is still alive and being taught to do stuff. The bad guys, unsurprisingly, are dressed exactly like they were two scenes ago, despite that in “movie time” it's 5-6 years later (I'm betting this entire movie was filmed in two weeks tops). They chase her through the woods, unable to catch up even though they are grownass men and she's 3 feet tall. Why is her ape dad thrashing around on the ground now? Is he having a stroke? The goons split up and hunt her, nearly catching her on several occasions, but they never do. This is like the Wraiths and Frodo, hiding under roots by the road, if they would just look down they would see her there.
No, she's not in that tree.
The goons all pull out their guns now (like you need that kind of firepower in this situation). Now they catch her, but she gets away by running through that guy's legs! Comedy gold, I tells ya. The midget in the ape suit with the obvious zipper down the back is really mad now. I don't know what kind of movie I'm watching, first it was a crime drama, then it was a musical, now it's a comedy, now it's The Lovely Bones. The ape flies in on obvious wires to save the kid at the last moment. Did the ape take a bullet on the way out? Did he just die in the girl's arms? Oh, that's not pleasant to watch. Wait, maybe he's alive? Whatever.
Maybe you should split up more?
Time passes and Mowglina has now befriended a little cute howler monkey, they share fruit and he takes rides on her shoulder. Wow, that's harsh, her ape dad is barely cold in the ground and she's already got a new monkey father-substitute? 45 minutes in, this movie feels like an eternity. It's almost 2 hours long, I think I might die before then. Hey, ape dad is alive! My bad, I thought he was dead. I guess he's OK with Mowglina having a new, younger monkey friend. The goons are back (again), this time dressed like Mexican truck drivers, and they are still searching for Mowglina. Why are they putting this much effort into finding this kid? Did I miss something? Are they worried she'll ID them for the murders of her (human) parents? Not likely, she was like 8 months old when that happened. Wait, those aren't the criminal goons, they are the soldiers? Why are they in plainclothes and not in uniform? Is this hunt unsanctioned by the military?
Justin Beiber would be so jelly.
Yeah, I think he's ok now.
Prop gun doesn't even have a trigger. Ha!
Ok, ok, ok, I see what's going on now. The soldiers are out in the woods hunting the goons, who are hunting Mowglina. So the soldiers are protecting her? Maybe? Why? Because now they're all kung fu fighting the goons in the woods, that's why. Sure. They don't try and arrest anyone, they just pair off and kick and punch at each other for a while before the scene break. Isn't there a more effective way to protect Mowglina than this? Anyway, since I gave you a gallery of the goons before, here are our trendy young commandos...
Uniform standards sure are lax in Nepal.
And time passes again, because now 6-year old Mowglina is like 20-year old Mowglina and jesusfuckingchrist that's an attractive girl. Still in her fake leaf bikini bottoms but now she's added a strapless palm frond bikini top to complete her ensemble. Happy to see that a lifetime in the jungle hasn't affected her skin or hair in any way, she looks like she just stepped out of her condo in Katmandu, took a taxi out to the movie shoot, spent a few minutes in wardrobe and makeup, and popped on screen to say her lines. Man, I hope she's over 18 because otherwise I'm going to hell.
Yeah, she looks at least 18.
Anyway, we now introduce a new character, this one some hardass mercenary type with a headwrap, brooding angry eyes, and mad kung fu skills. We first meet him in a city slum, beating the crap out of some bikers for some reason. This actor clearly has at least some martial arts training, even if all his fights are so slow that everything looks fake and choreographed. So slow, in fact, that it looks like they accidentally put some rehearsal walk-through footage into the final print. Seriously, editors, there's a “Speed up fps” button there for a reason, use it. Since he's rarely without his trendy bandana, we'll call him HeadwrapMercenary from now on.
I could use a Pepsi right now.
Back to the kingpin and his gangster goons, who are mounting yet another expedition into the woods to hunt for Mowglina. I still don't know why. Hey, that's neat, they colored the goons' hair gray, so they are clearly trying to show the passage of time (they've been looking for this girl for pushing 20 years now). The season must be a bit closer to fall now, because the goons are wearing coats and hats, even though the barefoot Mowglina (thankfully) is still just rocking her A-cup bikini.
20 years has been rough on this goon.
The soldiers (plus some RandomGirl who just showed up for no reason) are also in the woods, maybe they will all have a big showdown and kick a lot (yawn). You know, I keep typing “jungle”, but the flora is more akin to South Georgia than what you might think. There's little in the way of ground cover and the trees are fairly short and thin-trunked, and it's really dry and temperate in this season. Nepal is not what I was expecting. Hey, where is 6-year old Mowglina's howler monkey friend? Probably got taken by a cheetah.
Great trees for hammocks!
So the goons spy Mowglina taking a bath (still clothed) and catch her by the riverbank! But she knows Slap Fu and escapes. Seriously, all her fighting moves are variations of “Imma gonna slap yo face!”. And now HeadwrapMercenary shows up and there's more fighting. I swear like 80% of his movie has been lame hand-to-hand fights. So more running, more chasing, more ape wandering around, more smoking hot Mowglina in her sexy bikini, more nameless Nepali guys with prop guns and bad teeth kicking and punching other nameless Nepali guys with Puma t-shirts and polyester sweater vests. I've never wanted any movie to end more than I want Jungle Queen to. Still have 50 minutes left...
Not even you can make this better.
Out in the woods.
In an interlude, the kingpin lights up what has been the first cig all movie, which is actually quite surprising considering the rate of smokers in the subcontinent. I think he's mad/sad because his son was killed by HeadwrapMercenary in the fight by the river? Just guessing. The kingpin's “lair” is just an open concrete slab pavilion with a table and those plastic chairs, it looks like something at a KOA campground. This entire movie might have been filmed in the same three-square mile nature preserve for all the lack of variation in locations. They walk by the same upturned tree stump about 60 times and I know I've seen that fallen log bridge before.
At least he's smoking outdoors.
That stump should get a SAG credit.
Back to HeadwrapMercenary now. Wait, what, another musical number? This time it's some hunky soldier guy and that RandomGirl who showed up a few scenes ago. I still don't know who she is supposed to be, but maybe a policewoman helping the soldiers find Mowglina? I am making that up, too. So they go down to the river and start singing. The RandomGirl starts it out with a hot purple swimsuit on with a tasteful sari wrap. The soldier (wait, no, no, no, that's HeadwrapMercenary, fuck I can't tell anyone apart here) goes through 17 outfit changes in 3 minutes, like he's got a rack of trendy t-shirts and tight jeans just off-camera. He also raps??? Ohhellno, hiphop rap is not acceptable in this movie. The girl's dance moves are about as sexual as you can imagine and still be PG-13, that's a lot of cleavage and gyrating hips on display. She also changes clothes in-between verses, from frilly sundresses to club wear, with an emphasis on cute shoes and gold buckles. Hey, Mowglina shows up and starts flirting with HeadwrapMercenary? WTF? Maybe that's a dream sequence inside my music video? Maybe the RandomGirl is just imagining how insanely, car-burningly jealous she'll be once they find the much-hotter Mowglina and her boyfriend gets a look at her? I don't know (care) anymore.
One for you, Pam.
Continuity means nothing in a song.
Best dream ever!
Now we have a scene where Mowglina and her ape dad laugh and giggle and make “monkey motions” with their hands while someone tosses an orange housecat at them from off-camera. I swear to god that sentence is real, that actually happened in this movie. Or maybe it's a rabbit, it's unclear. Mowglina and her ape dad sure hug a lot. I'll try not and think about that too much. Oh no, is that a stock footage Bengal tiger? Run, run from the grainy, out-of-focus tiger shot lifted from some nature documentary from the '70s, run!
Damn, that's a bad ape suit.
HeadwrapMercenary eventually runs into Mowglina, and true to my suspicions, he instantly falls in love with her. He tries to communicate with her via ape motions (she doesn't speak human language) but just ends up looking like the most insensitive jerk ever. Mowglina, however, is clearly smitten with the swarthy dude in the K-Mart camo shirt and is feeling things that she herself doesn't understand (but she likes). There's a bit of running time here devoted to HeadwrapMercenary trying, Helen Keller-style, to teach her how to make simple sounds and pantomime kissing and stuff, falling deeper in love along the way. Meanwhile her ape dad seems to be ok with his daughter's choice of future son-in-law.
Great dental plan in the jungle.
So it seems like it's all coming to a head now as we're fully into the last act. Once again, everyone, goons, soldiers, simians, hot jungle chicks, everyone is out in the woods chasing each other. The unpleasantness starts with the RandomGirl catching her boyfriend HeadwrapMercenary and Mowglina out in the woods playing kissykissy and she's hella pissed. She goes right home and takes a knife to his Nickelback albums and throws all his clothes out into the alley before changing her facebook status to “Newly Single”. And now we have what we've all come here for, a chick fight between RandomGirl and Mowglina, presumably over HeadwrapMercenary's penis. These two actresses are really getting into this, like they're really trying to hurt each other, no need to speed up the film when they're actually taking real swings. In the end, HeadwrapMercenary breaks up the fight, breaks up with RandomGirl and calls her a crazy stalker bitch, puts on a slouchy newsboy cap, and immediately pledges his enduring love and affection to Mowglina.
Oh no she didint.
They'll make pretty babies.
Tragedy now as the goons capture her ape dad and string him up in a rope net! Mowglina swings in on a vine to save him! She takes on all the goons, and they fight with sticks and machetes and baseball bats (?) in the bright sun. Mowglina can't speak but she is an expert in Muy Thai kickboxing? Did her ape dad teach her how to fight like a human? Is this how apes fight each other in the wild? Call Jack Hanna. Suddenly all the soldiers show up and it's a battle royale with just so much punching and hitting and stupid ninja poses and anger, I'm very upset by all this violence. 20 solid, unending minutes of this. There are a few inventive moves, however, and Mowglina even bites one guy in the throat, which is cool.
Angry Cat Style!
I hope they did their stretching.
Two of the cops are killed and it looks bad, but here comes HeadwrapMercenary to save the day! Between him and the two girls they defeat the goons in yet another series of poorly-staged karate fights in a suspiciously clear area of the jungle floor. Before every single person had a handgun, but they all stick to hands and feet. None of them are even carrying their guns anymore, their holsters are missing. Did everyone just agree to pile up the guns by a banana tree and “settle this the old fashioned way”? In the end, the kingpin gets kicked in the balls by Mowglina for his trouble and dies. And that's it? No shit? They just hug the ape and walk off the battlefield as the credits roll? Ok, why not?
They do this a lot.
Yes, that's your own blood.
Tell me there was a sequel!
So, that was fun, wasn't it? It was, seriously.
Written in May 2015 by Nathan Decker.
comments powered by Disqus
that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...