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Monkey Man
The action scenes are undoubtedly satisfying, but the story ends up being a slow-paced and generic revenge narrative.

Monkey Man

Release Date: April 5, 2024
Runtime: 02:01
Synopsis:
An anonymous young man unleashes a campaign of vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless.

Table of Contents

A man with suppressed rage seeks vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother in . Kid () is a man in the Indian city of Yatana, who ekes out a living getting beat out wearing a gorilla mask in an underground fight club run by Tiger (). Kid is tormented by memories of the death of his mother Neela () at the hands of the corrupt police officer Rana (), working for the sociopathic guru Baba Shakti (). As part of a plan for revenge, Kid gets himself hired by Queenie (), the manager of the King's Club, where the city's elite drink and do drugs while hiring escorts such as Sita (). Taken under the wing of Alphonso (), Kid waits for the right opportunity to strike and get his revenge.

Monkey Man Synopsis

Monkey Man is the directorial debut from Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Lion, The Green Knight), produced by (Get Out). Along with co-writing and directing the film, Patel stars as the anonymous protagonist Kid, who is out of revenge for the death of his mother when he was just a child. After his first attempt at revenge goes awry, Kid receives assistance and training from the mystical third-gender tribe known as the hijra, led by Alpha (). With nothing to lose, Kid storms the King's Club and fights to the top to confront Rana and Baba Shakti.

My Thoughts on Monkey Man

The story of Monkey Man is inspired by the legend of the Hindu deity Hanuman, a symbol of wisdom, strength, courage, devotion and self-discipline. Dev Patel was inspired by films such as John Wick, which receives a namedrop, and The Raid to create a revenge thriller filled with bloody martial arts action. Indeed, Monkey Man builds up to a climatic action set-piece, where Kid, with the help of the hijra, fights his way past the guards of the King's Club to reach the man who killed his mother.

While the action of Monkey Man is undoubtedly satisfying, the film's story ends up being a slow-paced and generic revenge plot. The action grinds to a halt mid-film when Kid has to go into hiding and he is taken in by the transgender tribe of the hijra. Through the heavy use of flashbacks, Kid's tragic backstory is told, which also emphasizes his connection with Hanuman, the monkey-like Hindu deity.

Monkey Man was undoubtedly a passion project for Dev Patel, which he spent nearly a decade developing and shot in 2021, while the COVID-19 pandemic was still at its height. The result was good enough for Patel to use the assistance of Jordon Peele's Monkeypaw Productions to move the film past being a streaming-only release and get put into theatres. This in itself is an accomplishment since apart from Patel and Sharlto Copley, who previously worked together on Neill Blomkamp's Chappie, the predominantly Indian cast of Monkey Man wouldn't be that familiar to Western audiences.

Altogether, Monkey Man is a satisfactory directorial debut for Dev Patel. While the film could have used some editing to trim the slow pacing, the action-packed final act more than makes up for it.

Trailer for Monkey Man

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.