Monkey Man Review

Monkey Man starts with the legend of Hanuman being told to Kid, played by Dev Patel, by his mother. We learn about this  icon that embodies strength and courage. Now I have heard of the Monkey King but not of Hanuman. Quick note, they are not the same, and a quick Google search will explain the difference between the two. Hanuman accidentally ate the sun thinking it was a mango and was taught a lesson by the gods. Hanuman represents loyalty and devotion and we see this in Dev Patel’s character.

The movie starts with a brutal fight between Kid wearing a monkey mask in a fight club. The MC for these fights is Tiger, played by Sharito Copley, who sleazes up the screen with the way he treats the staff and his fighters. Kid is basically a punching bag for the bigger fighters and is using the money he makes for his ultimate mission, to get revenge for the death of his mother.

Dev Patel in MONKEY MAN, directed by Dev Patel

Yes, Monkey Man is a revenge film but it is much more than that. Not only do we see the reasons that Kid wants to take down the corrupt police officer, Rana, played by Sikandar Kher, but we also see how he is fighting for those the corrupt police have done wrong. The story is a little bit jumbled in the beginning and kind of goes in a different direction in the middle. It felt like it wanted to talk about a lot of topics but settled back to the main story after a few beats.

After an attempt on Rana, Kid finds himself in a temple with Alpha, played by Vipin Sharma, who is the mother of the third-gender tribe known as the hijra. It is here where Kid finds himself again and prepares for another attempt on Rana and Queenie, played magnificently by Ashwini Kalsekar. Queenie is so brash and foul-mouthed that she would make a sailor blush with her frequent use of curse words. Ashwini, as evil as she is, was one of my favorite characters that I know I was not supposed to like but did anyway.

The final act of the movie is where it all hits the fan. Dev Patel’s direction during these fights is pure genius and masterful. You would not believe that this is his first time directing a movie. You can tell that he is a student of the genre and has studied many Korean revenge-action movies. In the production notes Patel states, “Some of my favorite movies are Man from Nowhere and Oldboy, also a wonderful film from Indonesia, The Raid. We had a number of The Raid team working on this. As well as the John Wick team, who happen to be producers with Thunder Road. We put all of these in a blender, and added some masala from India.”

You can tell from some of the one-shots in this movie that Patel put his heart and soul into the movie. (He did break his hand while filming and continued filming the movie but changing the camera angle on the fight scenes to hide the broken hand) What separates this from other action movies is the brutality of the fights. The fights feel more grounded and visceral and you can feel the pain with each punch that Kid takes. There were a few moments when I was cringing in my seat because of the rawness on the screen, particularly a scene involving a knife in an elevator that made me squeeze my armrest.

MONKEY MAN, directed by Dev Patel

Monkey Man has carved its niche in the action movie genre and is groundbreaking in what it does. Dev Patel is a fantastic actor in his own right and this movie will hopefully land him more action roles. When we talk about representation mattering Monkey Man shows us that while action movies all feel the same, there is more than one way to tell them. We need to share these stories and open our world to all that is out there. Just like Black Panther, and Blue Beetle, Monkey Man will expose a new world to American audiences and hopefully, it will be embraced like those movies that came before it.

Final Thoughts: Dev Patel has made something special with Monkey Man and needs to be seen to be experienced. The movie is a cross between Ong-Bak, The Raid, and RRR, and with a touch of John Wick (mainly in the way he dresses). The movie not only deals with childhood trauma but tackles the disparity between the haves and have-nots, the stealing of land by the rich, and the abuse of transgendered persons in India. Monkey Man not only fights for his mother but he also fights for those that have been stepped on by the upper class. The action is intense, feral, and beautifully shot!

Kid Friendly: This movie would be recommended for children over 15. If they have seen any previously mentioned movies, they will know how violent and bloody this movie will be. The overall theme of family, belonging, and finding your purpose is a great message but the vicious way it tells will not be for everyone.

Violence: The movie is rated R for a reason. While there is a lot of cursing said by one particular person the violence is over the top. Although we do see guns in the movie, they are not the primary weapon of choice and that makes for some interesting ways for Dev’s character to eliminate his opponents.

Oscar® nominee Dev Patel (Lion, Slumdog Millionaire) achieves an astonishing, tour-de-force feature directing debut with an action thriller about one man’s quest for vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless.

Inspired by the legend of Hanuman, an icon embodying strength and courage, Monkey Man stars Patel as Kid, an anonymous young man who ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash.

After years of suppressed rage, Kid discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city’s sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

Packed with thrilling and spectacular fight and chase scenes, Monkey Man is directed by Dev Patel from his original story and his screenplay with Paul Angunawela and John Collee (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).

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