Monkey Man – REVIEW

Monkey Man - Dev Patel goes all John Wick

Having been through just about everything in the animal kingdom Monkey Man is not the latest Marvel superhero but is actor and now writer-director Dev Patel’s debut feature film in such a capacity inspired by the Hanuman legend, a story told to Patel’s character credited as ‘Kid’ in the first of many flashbacks. But we initially find him now as the Monkey Man of the title and is not some hairy primate whose super powers are rutting in public, searching for fleas and flinging their own shite at passersby. Instead he is a fighter and a brutal one at that because he ekes out an existence wearing a monkey mask and fighting for money in an underground scene promoted by ringmaster Sharlito Copley in another sleazy wild eyed role, who pays his fighters more if they bleed.

But the Kid has bigger things on his mind and wangles a job at a hotel where the city’s powerful and influential hang out and he targets his eyes on corrupt police officer Rana (Sikandar Kher), and Baba Shakti (Makarand Deshpande), a power-hungry guru-cum-politician whose veneer of spiritual wisdom masks a desire to grab land wherever he can. The reason for the Kid’s vengeful mission are revealed in the many flashbacks that would suggest that Patel and his co-writers have based on real life situations in India where appalling inequality, the treatment of women and state sanctioned violence in some distressing scenes involving his on screen mother. It’s something that is rarely if ever seen in western films if indeed even known about and its part of what makes this man on a mission revenge movie different from others in the genre.

Patel’s film leans heavily on a number of influences taking Indian mysticism, sub cultures and of course action films of which The Raid along with the John Wick franchise are writ large and yet there’s an unusual middle act that sees him take refuge in a trans gender community who come into their own by the end

This is Patel’s directing debut and along with his co-writers he has crammed a lot into the film, perhaps too much, and at 135 minutes it is overlong but the action pieces are frenetic, brutal and graphic. Those fight set pieces are well shot and on occasion might have you looking away from the screen but there’s no doubting his flair for choreographing the fists of fury. What works less well are the narrative scenes which at times bog down the proceedings but Monkey Man plays like John Wick meets Bollywood and on that level it works well rising above what could easily have been generic action fare.

related feature : The making of Hotel Mumbai starring Dev Patel

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Jordan Peele and Dev Patel introduce the film….

Here’s the Monkey Man trailer….


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