The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo
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The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo is a 1997 American adventure film starring Jamie Williams as Mowgli, with Roddy McDowall and Billy Campbell in supporting roles. It is a live action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (not based on The Second Jungle Book, as its title would suggest). The film was adapted for the screen by Bayard Johnson and Matthew Horton.
|The Second Jungle Book:|
Mowgli & Baloo
|Directed by||Duncan McLachlan|
|Produced by||Raju Patel|
|Written by||Bayard Johnson|
|Based on||The Jungle Book|
by Rudyard Kipling
|Music by||John Scott|
|Edited by||Marcus Manton|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|May 16, 1997|
Mowgli is a 10-year-old boy who has been raised deep in the jungle of India by his animal friends: the wolf pack, Baloo the bear, and Bagheera the panther. Mowgli also has enemies in the jungle: Shere Khan, the vicious tiger who killed the boy's father; and the Bandar-log, monkeys that are hated by all other animals of the jungle.
The movie opens with Mowgli being spotted by two monkeys who have been sent to kidnap him so that he can “teach them the ways of man.” They chase Mowgli through the jungle before finally catching him. As Mowgli lies helplessly on the ground, Baloo, Bagheera, and the wolf pack arrive to rescue him.
The next morning, Mowgli wakes up and goes hunting with the wolf pack. While hunting, he is spotted by Shere Khan. To escape, Mowgli runs and jumps into the nearby river and is quickly swept away by the swift current. Downstream, he is able to grab a vine and climb out of the water onto a bridge, where he finds railroad tracks.
Mowgli follows the tracks until he sees a train coming towards him. Having never seen a train before, Mowgli growls and snarls while standing directly in its path. When the conductor sees him, he successfully stops the train, but unintentionally traps the boy under the lead car. Also never having seen other humans, Mowgli growls and snarls at the passengers who come to see what has happened. An American circus scout named Harrison, takes a look at Mowgli and thinks of bringing the wild boy to the circus in America. Harrison, the conductor, and several other men on the train, wrestle Mowgli out from under the lead car and carry him into the luggage car as the terrified boy desperately growls and kicks to free himself from the mens’ grip.
Once inside the train, Mowgli’s captors attempt to tie him up with ropes but are unable to fully secure him before he escapes to the passenger cars. Mowgli pulls one of his captors with a rope that is partially tied around his bare chest until it falls off, completely freeing him. He eventually climbs onto the roof of the moving train with a passenger’s pet monkey, Timo. Harrison sees the boy escaping and follows him to the roof, followed shortly by Chuchandra, Timo’s owner. Mowgli then jumps off the moving train with Timo and escapes into the jungle.
Mowgli brings Timo to his home with the wolf pack. Viewing Timo as a member of the hated Bandar-log, Mowgli’s wolf brothers chase the monkey away. Upset with his pack, the boy runs away to find his new monkey friend with Baloo’s help.
Meanwhile, to help catch Mowgli, Harrison seeks out the help of a local, wealthy jungle guide named Buldeo, who believes the boy is his nephew and the only obstacle to inheriting his family’s estate. Buldeo, secretly wanting Mowgli dead, then hires Karait, a snake charmer posing as a professional tracker, to kill the boy. The three men set out on their quest and eventually meet Chuchandra deep in the jungle.
Mowgli and Baloo’s search for Timo leads them to an old abandoned city, the home of the Bandar-log. The monkeys successfully trap Baloo in the city’s dungeon but not Mowgli. The man cub escapes and runs to a tree outside the city, but not before being spotted by his four adult hunters. Mowgli, unaware of the men’s presence, climbs the tree and takes an afternoon nap.
Once Mowgli falls asleep, Karait sends his python, Kaa, up the tree. The snake wraps around the sleeping boy’s waist and begins tightening its grip until Mowgli wakes up. The four men rush to the bottom of the tree and unravel a giant net. Mowgli slowly pulls away from the snake but soon finds himself dangling from the tree by only one foot that Kaa continues to grip. At Karait’s command, the snake loosens its hold on Mowgli’s foot and the boy falls into the net. The men wrestle the boy as he kicks and growls, desperately trying to escape. They eventually wrap the boy tightly in the net, but not before Buldeo recognizes him without a doubt as his long-lost nephew. Still trying to squirm free from the tightly wrapped net, Harrison force-feeds Mowgli some of his whiskey to sedate him. The boy finally relaxes and even falls asleep again before he is carried to the men’s campsite.
The men unwrap the sleeping child from the net and examine his face, body, and bare chest for signs of his health. Questions of how he survived, what he ate, and what happened to Timo, reign as Mowgli starts to wake up. When the boy fully awakes, Harrison ties Mowgli’s right bare foot to a tree using a rope. Mowgli curiously tugs on the rope, but sees a chance to escape as Harrison walks away. The boy tries to run but slams hard into the ground when he reaches the end of his leash. Harrison tries to calm the now frightened boy by finally explaining what he plans to do with him. Harrison explains to Mowgli that he is planning to make a fortune by exploiting him in an American circus where he will be famous as the “Wolf Boy,” with different acts that involve (among other things) climbing into a pen full of lions. Meanwhile, Karait begins setting up a cage that is to be used to hold any other potential circus acts that Harrison may find before his and Mowgli’s departure for America.
A short time later, Harrison and Buldeo leave the campsite for a nearby stream to wash off, leaving Chuchandra and Karait to watch Mowgli. Shere Khan soon arrives, scaring off the two adult men, leaving only he and the boy, who is still tied to a tree. In the fight that ensues, the rope around Mowgli’s foot snaps, and the boy runs free into the jungle. Harrison runs back to the campsite to see what has happened, while Buldeo stays behind in case Mowgli runs by. Mowgli unknowingly stops near Buldeo, giving his captor an opportunity to kidnap him once again. Buldeo swiftly throws a blanket over Mowgli’s head and forcefully slams him to the ground, jumping on top of him. He rips the blanket from the boy’s face and explains to him that his secret agenda all along has been to murder him. As Mowgli hopelessly snarls and squirms trying to free himself, Buldeo pulls out his knife and taunts the boy before getting ready to strike. Just as Buldeo raises his weapon, Harrison runs by and stops him.
The two men carry Mowgli back to the campsite and, instead of tying him to a tree again, decide to lock him in the cage. Harrison slams the door behind the boy, and Karait ties it shut. As Harrison walks away, Buldeo walks up to Mowgli’s cage and reminds Karait that he was hired to have Kaa kill the boy. Now knowing that his only living relative wants him dead, Mowgli howls for his friends to come rescue him, despite Buldeo harshly yelling at him to “shut up.” Baloo, who has now escaped his dungeon, follows Mowgli’s voice and arrives at the campsite at early dawn. Baloo cracks one of the bars of the bamboo cage, waking up Chuchandra in the process, and quickly runs away. In the chaos that ensues, Mowgli is able to squeeze through the gap in the cage and follows shortly behind.
Mowgli and Baloo set out on their original journey to find Timo in the abandoned city. The four men, not knowing where Mowgli went, choose to go to the same city, as that is where they found him the day before. Mowgli and Baloo soon get separated again, as the boy is able to fit into tight spaces that the bear cannot. Mowgli eventually finds Timo but soon realizes that his search has led him to an underground temple filled with deadly, poisonous cobras. As Harrison climbs to the top of the temple, he spots his “Wolf Boy” in serious danger through the partially shattered windows that once served as the roof. He calls out to the boy, who knows the danger he is in. Mowgli looks up and sees Harrison, who has already tied the last of his rope to the roof. The rope dangles just above the ground, as Harrison begs the boy to climb up. The very hesitant man cub reluctantly agrees, as he knows that his only chance at survival is to climb up to the man who wants to capture him.
As Mowgli reaches the top of the rope, Buldeo arrives and slams Harrison with the butt of his rifle, briefly knocking him unconscious. Buldeo then turns to the boy, as he dangles from the roof, needing help to climb out onto solid ground. Buldeo pulls out his knife and slowly saws through the rope as Mowgli helplessly barks like a monkey at his uncle. Mowgli falls to the bottom of the temple landing hard directly on his back. Buldeo mocks the boy once again as Mowgli comes face-to-face with a striking cobra. Harrison awakes and confronts Buldeo before he can see if the boy has been bitten. A knife fight ensues as Harrison tries desperately to defend his new circus act. Harrison is badly injured in the moments that follow, and Buldeo returns to see if Mowgli is dead. Upon finding the boy alive and walking around, Buldeo pulls out his rifle and aims directly at the child, who can only whimper for his life. Just before pulling the trigger, Buldeo hears a roar behind him and turns around to see that Mowgli’s friends Bagheera and Baloo have come to his rescue. Buldeo runs away and finds the first hiding spot he can, inside a cannon that rests on the roof of another building. The Bandar-log soon find him and fire him out of the cannon into the deep of the jungle where he hangs from a tree as Shere Khan is nearby.
Harrison, who is able to slowly limp back to the roof, finds Karait. The snake charmer has Kaa attached to the roof and slithering down to the bottom. The snake wraps itself around Mowgli, who again reluctantly accepts help from his captors. As the snake wraps around Mowgli’s bare chest and arms, Kaa pulls the boy to safety on the roof. Harrison grabs the boy and carefully sets him on the ground next to himself. He begs Mowgli to come with him and explains that he has changed his mind about taking him to the circus. Instead, he wants to take Mowgli to his home in America and raise him, teach him how to walk and speak, and give him a normal life. Mowgli considers the offer for a short time but ultimately decides to return to the wolf pack in the jungle. Soon after, Chuchandra walks up and finds Timo safe with Mowgli and Harrison. Together, Karait, Chuchandra, and Harrison watch Mowgli run with the wolves back into the deep of the Indian jungle.
The film ultimately received negative reviews from critics.
Meanwhile, Jamie Williams has been widely praised for his performance. His smooth skin and messy hair, body language, and large repertoire of animal noises, made him believable in a very difficult role that never allowed him to speak. For his performance, Jamie Williams went on to win the “Most Promising Young Male Newcomer” award in 1996, at age ten.
- The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo (1997) - Box Office Mojo
- "Are Films Using Names in Vain?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
- Barnes, Mike (2016-02-12). "Bayard Johnson, 'Tarzan and the Lost City' Screenwriter, Dies at 63". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-03-05.