In the late September of 2003, Universal Pictures brought director Peter Berg's action comedy The Rundown to American cinema screens. Although the film underperformed slightly at the box office, it received generally positive critical
reviews, and was released in the United States with a PG-13 rating.
The film was later submitted to the BBFC for theatrical classification, but the subsequent release of the film in Britain was not as straightforward as it was in North American territories, and in this month's edition of Cutting Edge we'll be
examining the two versions of the film that have been released in the UK. At this point, it is worth pointing out that The Rundown was the title that accompanied the film in the United States, but internationally the film was released in
English-speaking countries under the film's working title of Welcome to the Jungle . Both of these titles will be used interchangeably throughout the following discussion of the film.
Cut for a 12A rated UK cinema release
The Rundown was first submitted to the BBFC in its PG-13 form in 2003 and on the face of it, it appears that the submitting company, Columbia Tristar Films, did not request a specific rating, since the BBFC passed the film uncut with a 15 on
February 2nd 2004, noting that the film contained:
Moderate action violence.
However, Columbia Tristar elected to opt for a lower rating immediately after this decision was taken, and the film was resubmitted with a request for a 12A rating. Naturally, cuts had to be made, and following the removal of 91 seconds' worth of
material, The Rundown was classified 12A under its international title of Welcome to the Jungle two days later on February 26th 2004, with the BBFC once again noting that the film contained:
M\oderate action violence.
Curiously, the BBFC's annual report for 2003 does not mention their classification of the 12A version, although it does make reference to their passing the film uncut with a 15 rating along with a vague reference to films being generally cut for
a 12A classification:
A rare example of a film submitted last year that met the criteria of the old-style action movie was The Rundown, which sought to make a new old-style action hero of the wrestler known as The Rock. It was not, however, so violent as to require
BBFC intervention at the '15' rating level. It did suggest that there is plenty of potential still for new Schwarzeneggers and Van Dammes. In the meantime, it is evident that violence has, if anything, been toned down in order to achieve the
more profitable American 'PG-13' rating or the UK '12A' rating.
Given the nature of The Rundown, the cuts for 12A were rather extensive, with various cuts made in five of the film's six reels.
Cut Scenes: Reel 1 nightclub fight
The first change occurs during a fight early in the film in reel 1, where Beck (played by The Rock) fights a group of men in a nightclub. In the uncut version, Beck knees one of the men twice in the face, but the BBFC objected, stating:
During fight sequence in nightclub, remove brief shot of Beck delivering knee blow to assailant's face.
Cut Scenes: Reel 2 weighing gold
Two more cuts occur in reel 2, the first of which concerns the brief lashing of one of Hatcher's miners. As the miner tries to escape with a handful of gold, he is whipped across the back of his hand. For the UK version, the BBFC stipulated:
During mining town scene, remove big close-up shot of man's lacerated knuckles after being lashed.
Cut Scenes: Reel 2 bar fight
The second cut in reel 2 occurs when Beck first confronts Travis (played by Seann William Scott), and the pair briefly tussle in a bar. Travis tried to fend off Beck by head-butting him, but he only manages to briefly stun himself instead.
For the UK version, the BBFC stated:
During confrontation between Travis and Beck in bar room, remove shot of Travis headbutting Beck.
Further cuts were made to the bar scene, when Hatcher (played by Christopher Walken) arrives at the bar with his right-hand man Harvey and a group of henchmen who proceed to fight with Beck. Beck eventually gets the upper hand, shoving a gun
into Harvey's mouth before kicking him across the room. However, the BBFC cuts required for the UK cinema version stated:
Remove all close-up shots of pistol being forced into and held in thug's mouth. In same sequence, remove final, two-footed chest kick to thug.
These cuts are particularly jarring in the cut version, especially with regards to the chest kick at the climax of the fight, with Harvey suddenly seen to be flying across the room with no visible impact against his chest.
Cut Scenes: Reel 3 rebel camp fight
Beck is later involved in a lengthy fight with some local rebels in the film's third reel. The majority of the film's cuts occur in this sequence alone, with almost 60 seconds of footage having been removed. For the 12A version, the BBFC
During fight sequence in rebel encampment between Beck and various rebel assailants, remove sight of assailant running up Beck's body and delivering chest kick. Also reduce sequence of kicks.
Continuing from above scene, the following sequence in which Beck and assailants are struck with lit or unlit wooden staves and Beck is attacked by assailant with knife must be removed entirely.
As a result of the cuts, the fight is rather short, undetailed and nonsensical in places in the cut version. For example, Beck is seen falling to the ground at one point, even though we have not seen him struck, and the music flows unevenly
A few examples of the many cut shots
Cut Scenes: Reel 5 taking on Hatcher's men
Further cuts were made by the BBFC in reel 5 of the film, as Beck and Travis mount an attack on Hatcher's men. The first affected sequence features Beck striking various enemies with shotguns, but the BBFC objected, stating:
Remove sight of Beck wielding two shotguns and striking soldier on either side of head with the butt of each weapon. In same sequence, remove sight of soldier being struck full in the face with shotgun butt and remove medium close-up shot of
Beck striking another soldier in face with shotgun butt.
Cut Scenes: Reel 5 store fight
The next change occurs a few moments later when Travis fights another enemy in a store. After grabbing the enemy's head, Travis puts his thumbs into the man's eyes, but the BBFC would not allow it:
In scene featuring Travis fighting scruffy thug inside store, remove close-up shot of Travis' thumbs pressing into opponent's eyeballs.
Cut Scenes: Reel 5 gun fight
The next affected scene in the UK cinema version concerns the sequence that shows Hatcher's men firing upon Beck and Travis as they take cover. In a stylistically-shot scene, the camera zooms in on various enemies unloading at the heroes,
with shots of bullets whizzing at the camera and cases ejecting in slow motion from enemy rifles. A large amount of very small cuts were made for the 12A version, with the BBFC demanding:
Remove all close-up shots which appear to glamorise weapons and intensify the violence by focusing on weapon barrels, muzzles, magazines, ammunition, ammo being ejected from weapon breeches and weapons being pointed directly to camera.
The edits that were made were numerous, but the material amounts to only a few seconds of film in total, with some cuts removing mere frames from the action. However, the stylistic effect intended by director Peter Berg is hugely diluted in
the cut version.
Cut Scenes: Reel 6 whip fight
The final changes made to the film occur in reel 6, as Beck faces off against the last of Hatcher's men in a brutal fight that involves the use of whips and guns. For the UK cinema release, the BBFC demanded:
During final fight sequence in which Beck is confronted by three thugs armed with bullwhips, reduce intensity and brutalising elements of the fight by removing sight of Beck being struck by lash, Beck receiving high kick, Beck receiving
swing kick to head, Beck being lashed around the neck and, finally, long shot of Beck grabbing thug's leg, bending and then breaking it (to include removal of sound of breaking bones).
Uncut for a 15 rated UK DVD release
Sometime after The Rundown was released into UK theatres under the title of Welcome to the Jungle with a 12A rating, the film was resubmitted for a DVD classification later in 2004. That year, the BBFC had introduced its "Different Versions
At Different Categories" policy, which legally allowed an uncut version of a film to be released with a higher rating if a previously-censored version had been released with a lower rating. Columbia Tristar submitted the original uncut
version of the film to the BBFC and it was passed uncut with a 15 rating on April 13th 2004 for:
Strong action violence.
In the UK, the film was marketed on DVD as the Director's Extended Version; even though it was not a director's cut and simply the uncut international version of the film that had been released in countries such as the United States.
The film was uncut on Region 2 and Region 4 DVD
Contemporary reports indicated that the initial UK DVD release contained a faulty 5.1 audio track, which lacked a dedicated subwoofer channel, and it is not known if the disc was repressed or recalled following this revelation. The Australian
Region 4 DVD (which was also encoded for Region 2 playback) was unaffected by this issue.
Cut for a 15 rated UK Blu-ray release
Welcome to the Jungle was later released on Blu-ray in the United Kingdom in 2008, and the film once again sported a 15 rating. However, what the packaging does not indicate is that the version of the film contained on the disc is the cut 12A
cinema version -- despite the fact that this version of the film has not been officially classified for a home video release. Therefore, the UK Blu-ray release should be avoided by fans of the film seeking an uncut version. Instead, British
buyers can import the American Blu-ray disc which is fully uncut and Region Free, and will play on all UK Blu-ray players without restriction.
Cutting Edge Video Episode 26: The Rundown/Welcome to the Jungle
All articles are original works compiled by Gavin Salkeld, with occasional help from a small team of researchers. Particular thanks are due to the BBFC for their diligent and helpful explanations of their interventions.