Genre: Action/Thriller
Director: Dev Patel
Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, Makarand Deshpande
Runtime: 2 hrs 1 min
Rating: R21 (Sexual Scenes and Violence)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 4 April 2024

Synopsis: 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.

Movie Review:

Dev Patel is no longer the scrawny and optimistic Jamal Malik we know from Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The breakthrough role for Patel was one that allowed his character to be compassionate and driven by love, despite being born in the slums of Mumbai. Fast forward almost 15 years later, the British actor is helming his directorial debut, and taking on the lead role as a young man filled with rage and revenge. You won’t want to mess around with this guy.

Simply known as Kid, the protagonist of this movie is giving John Wick a good run for his money. After a short introduction about the Hindu monkey god Hanuman told by a mother to her child, we are introduced to Kid, who earns his keep by pulling punches in illegal fight club. He wears a monkey mask and things understandably get very bloody. But this is just the beginning with the kind of violence you will be experiencing in this 121 minute action drama.

After a ingeniously edited pickpocketing sequence, we see Kid getting a job in a big company  a kitchen assistant. This establishment is into shady dealings like providing drugs and prostitutes to rich people, so you know things are going to turn ugly. Soon, we understand why Kid wants to get himself employed at the company, and see him executing a revenge plan which, of course, involves more violence and blood. Things are only going to get bonkier from here.

After Kid gets seriously hurt in a brawl, there is a substantial segment of the movie dedicated to his healing experience in a temple managed by a community of hijra, a group of transgender people who, in South Asian context, face social stigma and discrimination due to their gender identity. This portion of the movie allows you to catch your breath, and there is a standout sequence where Kid trains with a sack of rice while the hijra cheer him on. And there is also a weird but somewhat enlightening scene with Patel tears his singlet, his chest rips open, and we as viewers are guided by a flash of bright light into his body where we learn about his painful past. The unique approach of featuring a flashback will make you sit up and pay full attention.

After starring in heartwarming comedies like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and its 2015 sequel, serious dramas like Lion (2016) and Hotel Mumbai (2018), as well as the artistically ambitious The Green Knight (2021), Patel has proven that he can be a brooding action hero as well. While he isn’t buff and doesn’t have the build of your usual Hollywood action movie star, Patel has a lean figure and impresses with his nimbleness and agility. Watching him fight off the antagonists in various locations like a kitchen, a tight corridor, a brothel and a lavish dining event hall makes you want cheer the man on, although you can only imagine the pain and injuries sustained from all those punches and kicks. Oh, objects are freely used to pierce through human skin too, so get your stomach ready for that.

Movie Rating:

(Dev Patel directs and stars in this gutsy action flick, and he oozes charisma as a brooding and rage-filled protagonist) 

Review by John Li

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