The film stars Jason Scott Lee and Lena Headey, and co-stars Cary Elwes, Sam Neill, John Cleese and Jason Flemyng. In this version, the animals do not speak.
Released on December 25, 1994, by Walt Disney Pictures, the film received positive reviews and grossed $43.2 million in theaters against a $30 million budget.
In 1886, during the British Raj in India, Mowgli (Sean Naegeli) is the 5-year-old son of the widowed Nathoo, whose wife died in childbirth. Nathoo works as a tour guide. On one of his tours, he is leading Colonel Geoffrey Brydon (Sam Neill) and his men as well as Brydon's 5-year-old daughter Katherine (Joanna Wolff). That night, the deadly tiger Shere Khan attacks the encampment, intent on killing a trio of soldiers who have been shooting several animals for fun in the jungle earlier, which has enraged him. He kills the first two hunters, but when he tries to kill the third hunter, Buldeo, Nathoo defends Buldeo, who ungratefully leaves him to be mauled to death by the tiger. In the confusion, Mowgli is lost in the jungle with his pet wolf cub, Grey Brother. Brydon and his men believe Mowgli has been killed too. Mowgli is taken by Bagheera, a gentle black panther, to the wolf pack. Mowgli also befriends a bear cub named Baloo.
Twenty years later, Mowgli, now a young man, discovers Monkey City, a legendary ancient city filled with treasure belonging to King Louie the Orangutan, who has his treasure guarded by Kaa the python. Forced to fight for his life, Mowgli succeeds in wounding the snake with a golden dagger that he retrieves from the treasure horde. Winning King Louie's respect, Mowgli keeps the dagger as a trophy.
Elsewhere, Katherine and her father are still stationed in India. She and Mowgli meet again, but neither recognize the other. Katherine is also in a relationship with one of Brydon's soldiers, Captain William Boone. Mowgli enters the village in search of Katherine. Boone and his men manage to capture him and find the golden dagger from Monkey City in his possession. Katherine discovers an old bracelet of her mother's, one she gave to Mowgli when they were children, and instantly realizes who Mowgli is. She and Dr. Julius Plumford (a good friend of Brydon's) decide that they must re-introduce Mowgli to civilization. In doing so, Mowgli and Katherine fall in love, much to Boone's displeasure. Eventually, Boone convinces Mowgli to tell him of Monkey City and the treasure hoard that it holds, but refrains from revealing its location to him upon realizing his lack of respect for the jungle. Boone later proposes to Katherine, and she accepts. Around this time, Mowgli returns to the jungle as he does not feel at home in the village. After Boone's cruel treatment of Mowgli, Katherine realizes she cannot marry Boone, so she decides to go back to England to get away from him.
Meanwhile, Boone and his associates Lieutenant Wilkins and Sergeant Harley team up with Buldeo. The men recruit a jungle guide, Tabaqui, and gather some bandits to capture Mowgli in order to find out where the treasure is. Wilkins and Boone shoot Baloo when he comes to Mowgli's defense, much to Mowgli's distress. Buldeo and the bandits then ambush Katherine and her father (who is shot and wounded in the process). Even though Mowgli, along with Bagheera, Grey Brother, and the rest of the wolves, attack and kill most of the bandits, Buldeo manages to capture Katherine and her father and hands them over to Boone and his men, who plan to use them as blackmail: If Mowgli leads them to the treasure, Katherine and her father shall live. That night, the group learns that Shere Khan has returned to the area and is following them.
The next morning, Harley catches Mowgli escaping with the aid of Bagheera and gives chase, only to fall into quicksand and drown, despite Wilkins' attempts to save him. Mowgli then has an elephant take the injured Brydon back to the village, after promising him to rescue Katherine. As the day progresses, Mowgli kills Tabaqui in self-defense when the latter attacks and tries to murder him. As the group reaches the outside of Monkey City, Wilkins becomes separated from the group and is mauled to death by Shere Khan. Eventually, the remaining group enters Monkey City, where Buldeo inadvertently entombs himself in a trap while trying to shoot Mowgli. Only Mowgli, Katherine, and Boone reach the treasure room, where Mowgli and Boone engage in a fierce fight until Mowgli injures the soldier with another dagger. Mowgli then escapes with Katherine, while Boone begins greedily pocketing treasure, only for Kaa to attack and kill him.
As they escape from Monkey City, Mowgli and Katherine are confronted by Shere Khan. However, Mowgli shows no fear and stands up by roaring back at the tiger, who then accepts him as a creature of the jungle and allows Mowgli and Katherine to leave peacefully. Mowgli and Katherine meet both the Colonel and Baloo, both of whom have recovered from their injuries under Plumford's care. Mowgli becomes the new lord of the jungle and begins a relationship with Katherine.Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli
Sean Naegeli as 5-year-old Mowgli
Lena Headey as Katherine "Kitty" Brydon
Joanna Wolff as 5-year-old Kitty
Cary Elwes as Captain William Boone
Sam Neill as Colonel Geoffrey Brydon
John Cleese as Dr. Julius Plumford
Jason Flemyng as Lt. John Wilkins
Ron Donachie as Sgt. Harley
Stefan Kalipha as Buldeo
Anirudh Agarwal as Tabaqui
Faran Tahir as Nathoo (Mowgli's Father)
Frank Welker as various animal sound effects (uncredited)
Casey as Baloo, a male black bear.
Shadow as Bagheera, a male black leopard.
Shannon as Grey Brother, a female gray wolf.
Lowell as King Louie, a male Bornean orangutan.
Bombay as Shere Khan, a male Bengal tiger.
Kaa is portrayed by both a computer-generated and a real anaconda. Other trained animals were monkeys, elephants, camel, horses, zebu, and wolves. The sounds used for the monkeys were actually those of chimps siamangs and even Frank Welker
Raju Patel, an Indian producer, figured the 100th anniversary of Kipling's "Jungle Book" stories publication should be commemorated with a film adaptation.
Principal photography took place in India (Jodhpur and Bombay) as well as parts of the Southern United States (South Carolina and Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee).
While electronics dominated most of his work during the early '90s, composer Basil Poledouris returned to his symphonic roots for his score to this film. Most European versions of Milan's official CD release include "Two Different Worlds," a pop song performed by Kenny Loggins.
The film was well received, with praise for its performances, action, and visuals, but it was also chided for not staying true to Kipling's work, even though his name remains in the title.
Noted critic Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times shared this sentiment. He said the film "has so little connection to Rudyard Kipling or his classic book that the title is beyond explanation."
He goes on to say that it is a good film, awarding it three stars out of four, but it does not fit its target audience; some "scenes are unsuitable for small children, and the 'PG' rating is laughable."
Brian Lowry of Variety said that, "Technically, Jungle Book is an encyclopedia of wonders, from the dazzling scenery (shot largely in Jodhpur, India), cinematography, costumes and sets, to the animals, who frequently out-emote their two-legged counterparts. Even so, Book may have been more effective had its story stayed on one page." Rita Kempley from The Washington Post was more favorable, stating that "the narrative shifts from romance to adventure the way Cheetah used to hop from foot to foot, but Sommers nevertheless delivers a bully family picture."
The film currently holds a 79% 'fresh' rating at review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, based on 38 reviews with the consensus: "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book may not hew as closely to the book as its title suggests, but it still offers an entertaining live-action take on a story best known in animated form."
The film was nominated for Excellence in Media's 1994 Golden Angel Award for best motion picture.
The film was adapted into a 1996 game, which includes clips from the film, while providing an original story and new characters.
The game follows the player in his/her quest to save the jungle. Soldiers have stolen King Louie's crown and the player must recover it to prevent the jungle from losing its magic. The player is aided by a Scotsman named Ilgwom ("Mowgli" spelled backwards) and his chimpanzee, Lahtee, while also guided by a spirit made from Mowgli's memories.