Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is a 1994 Disney film based on the Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and is a live-action reimagining of the 1967 Disney animated film of the same name. The film stars Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli and Cary Elwes as his main adversary. It was directed by Stephen Sommers. The original music score was composed by Basil Poledouris.
1900, In the Victorian period, Mowgli is the five-year-old son of Nathoo, a wilderness guide, with whom he accompanies on a trip in the jungles of their native India and has Grey Brother as a pet wolf cub. Mowgli becomes close friends with a British girl named Katherine Anne "Kitty" Brydon, whose father, Colonel Geoffrey Brydon, commissioned the hunt. When Shere Khan attacks the camp and kills Mowgli's father and one of Colonel Brydon's associates, the boy and the wolf are lost in the confusion and are left to fend for themselves. Bagheera finds them and leads Mowgli to the wolf pack. Mowgli is befriended by the animals of the jungle including Baloo the bear cub, and they develop an unspoken bond as the boy learns to survive. Twenty years later, the Bandar-log steal the bracelet Kitty gave Mowgli. He follows them to the ruins of an overgrown and lost city, deep in the jungle, where he meets King Louie the orangutan, who he follows in to a chamber full of vast treasure. Louie wants to add the bracelet to the treasure, but agrees to give it back if Mowgli fights the great serpent Kaa and wins. Mowgli manages to defeat Kaa with a jeweled dagger he found in the temple. Kaa flees, but he is not killed. Louie returns Mowgli the bracelet, proclaiming the latter a hero.
1919, A little later, Mowgli once again encounters Kitty, who has returned to India with her father and her arrogant and deceitful suitor, Captain William Boone. Kitty and Mowgli recognize each other, and while his powers of speech are rusty, Kitty reintroduces Mowgli to civilization with the help of Dr. Julius Plumford and Mowgli introduces Kitty to his friends in the jungle. However, after spending most of his life in the jungle, Mowgli does not feel at home among the rude and snobbish aristocrats (especially soldiers Sgt. Harley and Lt. Wilkins) who are friends with Kitty's family. He falls in love with Kitty, but he concedes to his rival for her affections, believing that he does not belong in her world.
Meanwhile, Buldeo, one of Boone's men, finds the jewelled dagger Mowgli used against Kaa, and they hatch a plan to get Mowgli to lead them to the treasure in Monkey City. After Mowgli refuses they attempt to capture him but fail thanks to Baloo's intervention. Baloo is shot in the process and Mowgli rushes back to Kitty's home to find Dr. Plumford; however the butler informs him that Kitty and Plumford are going back to England. Mowgli finds Kitty and the others just as Boone's men, led by Buldeo and Tabaqui (a guide leading Boone), ambush and attack them. Geoffrey is shot and wounded, and abducted along with Kitty. Mowgli saves Plumford, and asks him to return the favour by helping Baloo. Mowgli catches up with Boone's men, and agrees to escort them to Monkey City in exchange for Kitty and Geoffrey's safety.
The next morning, while the troupe is still searching for the treasure, all of Boone's men are killed. Eventually only Mowgli, Kitty, Boone and Buldeo make it to Monkey City alive.
As the three enter the ancient ruins, Buldeo attempts to shoot Mowgli and chases him into a crypt, but accidentally sets off a booby trap that buries him alive. In the end, only Mowgli, Kitty and Boone reach the treasure alive. Boone, no longer needing Mowgli, attempts to kill him, but the two fight and Boone loses. Mowgli and Kitty flee the temple, as Boone starts to pocket all the gold he can find. Kaa suddenly appears and scares Boone into falling into the water below them. While Boone is underwater, he notices a few skeletons of people whom Kaa had possibly killed in the past. Boone joins them when he is bitten and killed by Kaa.
Shere Khan confronts Mowgli and Kitty as they exit. Khan still does not trust Mowgli, and the two stare at each other a long time before Khan is stared down and leaves in submission - the fulfillment of a dream Mowgli had in the beginning of the story, where he, already a 'half-tiger' in spirit, would stare Shere Khan eye to eye and become a 'whole tiger', Khan recognising in Mowgli another creature of the jungle. Mowgli and Kitty reunite with their friends and family, including Geoffrey and Baloo, both cured by Plumford. Kitty and Mowgli are now together. They share a passionate kiss by a waterfall.
- Jason Scott Lee - Mowgli
- Cary Elwes - Captain William Boone
- Lena Headey - Katherine "Kitty" Brydon
- Sam Neill - Colonel Geoffrey Brydon
- John Cleese - Dr. Julius Plumford
- Jason Flemyng - Lt. John Wilkins
- Ron Donachie - Sgt. Harley
- Sean Naegeli - Mowgli, age 5
- Joanna Wolff - Kitty Brydon, age 5
- Stefan Kalipha - Buldeo
- Anirudh Agrawal - Tabaqui
- Liza Walker - Alice
- Rachel Robertson - Rose
- Natalie Morse - Margareta
Kaa is portrayed by both a computer-generated and a real anaconda. Other trained animals were monkeys, elephants, camel, horses, zebu, and wolves.
Differences with the Literature
- Mowgli does not wind up in the jungle during infancy, but as a five-year-old.
- Shere Khan is less villainous here: he only hates humans because he believes they're the evil ones, while Khan actually cares about the jungle and its inhabitants.
- Grey Brother is a pet, though he does wind up getting stuck in the jungle with Mowgli, and growing up there.
- Nathoo is Mowgli's father.
- In a related note, had Meshua been included in this film, she would've been Mowgli's grandmother here.
- Baloo is portrayed as a black bear and possibly an orphan like Mowgli, as Baloo first meets Mowgli as a cub and grows up with him.
- Kaa is a pet and henchman of King Louie, he also fills the role of White Hood, however he doesn't seem capable of hypnosis, relying more on brute force.
- Mowgli seems more keen about being clothed in this film.
- The Bandar-Log don't kidnap Mowgli, but one monkey does steal Kitty's necklace, and lures Mowgli into the Cold Lairs with it.
- Kitty is the name of Mowgli's love-interest.
- There is a Tabaqui in this film, but as a human rather than a jackal or hyena (and no jackals or hyenas are seen at all).
- Shere Khan starts respecting Mowgli to the point where he doesn't see the man-cub as an enemy whatsoever (and they never fight either).
- Mowgli doesn't return to humanity, but Kitty decides to live with him in the jungle.
- The scene where a young-Mowgli calms an elephant could be a reference to the related story Toomai of the Elephants.
- Buldeo is included in this film, making this his first Disney appearance since he was canceled from the cartoon one.
- It is presumed Baloo was meant to be an orphaned bear-cub since he was portrayed as one at the same time as Mowgli was young and there's no mother bear at all. This could be based on the spin-off show TaleSpin which was born a few years earlier and has its own orphaned bear-cub: Kit Cloudkicker (who's also the animal equivalent of Mowgli).
- Strangely, there's a scene with ring-tailed lemurs, which like orangutans, aren't found in India (though India was connected to Madagascar in prehistoric times).
- The scene where Mowgli claims a jeweled dagger could be a reference to the story The King's Ankus, only without the giant cobra White Hood, having Kaa in his place instead.
- Shanti isn't in this film, but a different girl named Kitty becomes Mowgli's love-interest here.
- It is unknown if Hathi is in this film, even though elephants are included (though none of them are identified). Same with Raksha, Father Wolf and Akela.
- In complete opposite to Mowgli reintegrating into human-civilization, Kitty decides to live in the jungle with Mowgli, similar to how Jane Porter of the Tarzan stories does the same for Tarzan.