I really enjoy Roddy Piper as an action star. The man had screen presence, charisma, an could turn any clunky role in to a bonafide winner. The 1995 cheapie “Jungle Ground” is a two pronged vehicle for Piper, acting as his own custom tailored “Escape from New York” and “Die Hard.” It’s Piper as an average cop stuck behind enemy lines in a lawless gang warzone who has to fight his way out and save his wife. He even gets to shoot down a criminal declaring “Hi Ho, Silver.” Too bad “Yippee Ki Yay, Motherfucker” was taken.
Piper is Lt. Jake Cornell a worn out officer who is hassled by an old superior to take part in a bust of a local gang that are suspected of dealing drugs. Cornell decides to go on the bust before he finally calls it quits, but things don’t quite go as planned. After the failed meeting, Cornell’s group are slaughtered, except for him. Thanks to his quick foot work and fighting skills, Jake flees for his life and finds himself in the ghettos of Jungle Ground, where criminals rule. For a film with such a sketchy premise, “Jungle Ground” is played with a straight face and manages to be a fun and exciting bit of survival action, with Piper holding his own.
Much of the world of Jungle Ground revolves around colorful but deadly villains, and Cornell has to battle them and avoid their sick games. There’s even a rollerskating pyromaniac with an obsession for game shows. Director Don Allan manages to prevent the film from feeling monotonous by keeping Piper on the run, while introducing certain sub-plots that could decide his fate. Cornell’s wife is kidnapped by the gang and held as leverage for him, while the two major gangs of the land are at war over a pact involving drugs and locals.
Though Cornell knows who the traitor is, he has to figure out a way to flee to his own city before dawn, and evade the forces. Director Allan is able to derive some real tension and suspense, along with plenty of memorable fight scenes and shoot outs. There are even added unusual moments including Piper’s hooker sidekick’s attempts to steal a gun from her while she’s having sex, and a thug’s attempts to suffocate Piper’s wife with duct tape. For an actioner made in the mid-nineties, “Jungleground” has a very mid-eighties punk feel, and it works as an entertaining and fast paced Roddy Piper vehicle.