Monkey Man climbs high with culture and combat

Thu. April 4, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

British actor Dev Patel debuts as a director with the thriller Monkey Man and similar to his previous film Slumdog Millionaire it's set in Mumbai, although this time filmed on a small island in Indonesia. This impressive piece of work must have taken the Oscar nominee countless hours of work to create with being both in front and behind the camera plus writing and producing the project as well. Jordan Peele lent a helping hand to Patel as a co-producer with his Monkeypaw Productions company.

The story has roots in revenge as Patel plays Kid, who is haunted by the past while seeking vengeance surrounding his mother Neela's death. While wearing a gorilla mask, Kid takes out his frustrations by beating opponents in a brutal wrestling ring and hustles on the side in a seedy nightclub.

It is here where he experiences much of the classist society that is common in his culture and suffers abuse. It all becomes the backdrop and catalyst for a battle to the finish in this 122-minute tale.

Gender-fluid shaman Alpha is given great power and respect thanks to performer Vipin Sharma accompanied by smart writing. Pitobash as Alphonso is also a complicated and unusual character added into the mix.

This piece of work has important things to say about the sinister side of society and encourages others to keep fighting for equality. Monkey Man is infused with culture while being wrapped in a fable.

Some may miss the symbolism but audiences will go ape with the sheer violence of it all as this celebration of fisticuffs flies fast and furious. This blood bath is gritty, dark and made for the big screen.

The score by Australian composer Jed Kurzel is fantastic and the heavy beats add to the action sequences.

Many of the fight scenes are choreographed with Bollywood exuberance and finesse. Patel, who is trained in Taekwondo, broke his hand filming the first scene but thankfully didn't lose a finger in the process.

For fans of John Wick, this flick has a scrappy long-haired protagonist wearing a black suit who is seeking revenge for the death of a woman and becomes attached to a dog. Basil Iwanyk of the John Wick franchise was one of the producers, so there is not a copycat clash between the stories.

MM is its own thing and many things set it apart from the genre. Patel's goal was to delve deeper into the character's psyche to give them weight not typically seen in action movies. He succeeded and his accomplishment soars high over the treetops.

Monkey Man is set to battle it out with The First Omen which opens in the same weekend, but the following for this cheeky little devil should smack down all the competition, although “One Monkey Don't Stop No Show,” so you never know.

Monkey Man swings into theaters on April 5, 2024. For more monkey business please visit