13 January 2018



Daniel Radcliffe's had a pretty impressive career since filming wrapped up on the HARRY POTTER franchise, the luckiest and most lucrative idea a struggling single mother-slash-writer ever had or could hope to have.

Every time I myself try to come up with a bazillion dollar franchise-cum-book-idea, all I can think of writing is the story of a young orphaned lad who finds out he's actually a wizard and goes to wizard school, where he makes tons of like-minded friends and battles an evil genius played by Ralph Fiennes.

See how hard it is? See how hard she's made it for the rest of us? Thanks a bunch, J.K. Rowling. I still have a bone to pick with her after my daughter waited a full fifteen years for her letter of admissions to Hogwarts to arrive, and still not a sausage after all this time. That's just cruel.

Anyway, Danny Radcliffe's been in the HAMMER HORROR revival movie, the excellent THE WOMAN IN BLACK, based on the book by Susan Hill, and in the recent film about neo-nazis, IMPERIUM. I believe that when asked what it was like to play a neo-nazi (given that he himself is Jewish, I presume), the Rad replied that it was a good job that he had an okay-shaped head because he was required to shave off all of his hair for the film. That's deep, man, real deep...

JUNGLE is based on the real-life memoirs of Yossi Ghinsberg, a young Israeli man who lost himself accidentally in the Bolivian rainforest for three weeks back in 1981. Apparently he'd longed for the full 'rainforest immersion' experience and got more than he'd bargained for.

He did all right out of it ultimately, though, with several books published on his survival experience, films and documentaries made about him and featuring him and a successful career as a motivational speaker since 2001.

Nando Parrado had a similar post-survival experience. He was the young Uruguayan college student who, in 1972, climbed right out of the Andes Mountains after the plane on which he'd been travelling with his fellow rugby team players crashed in these self-same mountains.

He was accompanied by a friend, Roberto Canessa, but the motivation to stay alive and return to his father, after his beloved mother and sister had perished in the same crash, was very definitely all Nando's own.

Piers Paul Read wrote a best-selling book about the crash and its aftermath and the Hollywood movie, ALIVE: MIRACLE IN THE ANDES, featured Ethan Hawke as Nando. It's a brilliant film and probably the best, most realistic and most terrifying movie depiction of a plane crash ever made. I wonder if Nando and Yossi have ever met. Certainly they'd have heard of each other, both being luminaries of the 'I survived a terrible experience' circuit.

Nando's plane crash was no-one's fault, but Yossi walked into the Bolivian rainforest of his own free will, having been seduced into the idea of finding a lost tribe and maybe even some gold by his guide, a man he'd never met before called Karl Ruchprechter, whose true motivation he never really discovered.

Yossi dragged a couple of his friends down with him, a lovely Swiss teacher called Marcus (how could you pressure a man who wears glasses to go along with your madcap rainforest ideas?) and a privileged-seeming young American would-be photographer, Kevin Gale.

Four men went into the rainforest together. Only two of them were ever seen alive again. All four of them had all the rainforest they could handle and then some as they battled with
lashing rain, lethal rapids, prowling jaguars and a diet of if you don't catch and kill something with your own bare hands or shotgun, then you damn well don't eat. 

Remember that poor monkey? Daniel Radcliffe tore off a bit of his cooked little arm and wolfed it down, the monster! He didn't deserve to have Lady Gaga come to him in a bizarre vision later on in the film after what he did to that monkey...

The film also reminds me of John Boorman's magnificent work THE EMERALD FOREST, in which his son Charley played a boy who was kidnapped by a native Amazonian tribe while his engineer father was working on a giant dam that caused acres of rainforest to be denuded daily. The heartbroken Dad spent years and years looking for his son.

When he eventually finds him, the lad's gone native and catches fish with his hands, clubs women over the head before dragging them off to his cave by their hair and the whole time his backside's hanging out for all the world to see. Because they're a tribe that only wears minimal clothing, see? It's a gorgeous, beautifully-shot film, is this one. You should try and see it if you haven't already done so.

There's some terrific but stomach-churning body-horror in JUNGLE as Yossi shows common sense and immense courage by cutting a disgusting big worm out of his forehead with a knife, the worm having burrowed its way in and started a nice little infection going. That's the thing about going to these jungley parts of the world without being prepared. You can catch all sorts of yucky infections or parasites. What about that killer fish that swims up your pee-stream and into your body? It doesn't bear thinking about it, does that.

We do really feel for Yossi as he tries to make his way out of the rainforest with no previous experience of anything remotely approximating the experience. His frustration when he realises that he's been BLAIR WITCH-ing it round and round in circles for hours on end, only to end up right back where he started, is plain for all to see. See, you should respect the jungle enough to not go wandering around in it on your own when you're a novice, just like you shouldn't go anywhere near the sea if you can't swim or sail properly. 

The scenery is magnificent in JUNGLE also and Daniel Radcliffe gets incredibly mucky in the film. If you equate the level of muckiness with the acting ability, then he does a great job as the backpacker who should have known better but didn't. He gets positively filthy. Two people possibly died because of Yossi's willingness to believe in a vision of a lost Amazonian tribe he'd only just heard of that never existed. Good work, Yossi my man. Good work...

Excellent film, well worth a watch is my verdict. It's out now on digital platforms and on DVD and Blu-Ray courtesy of SIGNATURE ENTERTAINMENT. Here's some handy information on these guys:

Launched in 2011, SIGNATURE FILMS is one of the leading names in UK film distribution. The team combines a wealth of film expertise with a fresh commercial outlook, delivering diverse quality entertainment to a broad audience in cinemas and at home.

SIGNATURE has released over 600 titles into the UK market since its inception, leading the way with innovative, bold ways of releasing and quality productions. SIGNATURE's recent releases include THE EXCEPTION starring Lily James and Christopher Plummer, 6 BELOW starring Josh Hartnett and WAKEFIELD starring Bryan Cranston.

The impressive upcoming slate includes JUNGLE starring Daniel Radcliffe, BEYOND SKYLINE starring Frank Grillo, RENEGADES starring JK Simmons and PIRATES OF SOMALIA starring Evan Peters, Melanie Griffith and Al Pacino.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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