“MONKEY MAN” Review | A Knockout Debut Filled With Soul and Fury

Dev Patel crashes onto the scene as a director with the vengeance-fueled masterpiece, Monkey Man. Patel not only steps behind the camera for the first time in his feature-length directorial debut, but also takes the lead role, showcasing a whole new dimension to his talents.

The film follows a nameless drifter (Patel) who scrapes by in a brutal underground fight club, donning a monkey mask to become the enigmatic “Monkey Man.” Years of suppressed rage simmer beneath the surface, fueled by a dark past. When a chance encounter grants him access to the city’s elite, the Monkey Man unleashes a fury unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

But Monkey Man is more than just a bone-crunching brawl. Patel weaves a complex narrative that transcends the typical revenge story. As the Monkey Man delves deeper into the opulent world of the wealthy elite, we discover the source of his trauma – a potent social commentary on power, corruption, and the cyclical nature of violence.

This societal critique is further amplified by the film’s surprising spiritual undercurrent. The Monkey Man finds himself drawn to a community of transgender people who offer him not just fighting skills, but also a path to harness his rage and channel it into something more meaningful. This unexpected injection of spirituality adds a layer of depth and emotional resonance that elevates the film.

monkey man

Patel’s direction is nothing short of phenomenal. The fight choreography is balletic in its brutality, showcasing a raw, visceral style, unlike the clean-cut action sequences we’re used to. The camera swoops and dives, placing you right in the heart of the chaos, while still maintaining a clarity that allows you to appreciate the intricate fight moves.

As an actor, Patel embodies the raw pain and determination of the Monkey Man. He’s both ferocious and vulnerable, a man consumed by a desire for justice but haunted by his past. The supporting cast is equally impressive, with Sharone Meir’s cinematography painting a neon-drenched underworld that both repels and enthralls.

Patel isn’t the only one delivering a knockout performance. Sharlto Copley brings his signature manic energy to the role of Tiger, the sadistic emcee of the underground fight club. The film also features a breakout performance from Pitobash as Alphonso, a reluctant ally who becomes entangled in the Monkey Man’s quest. The supporting cast, comprised of both established and rising stars, adds layers of complexity and humanity to the film’s world, making “Monkey Man” more than just a one-man show.

Monkey Man is a genre-bending triumph. It’s a blistering revenge story, a social critique disguised as a fight flick, and a surprisingly profound exploration of healing. Patel’s directorial debut is a knockout, filled with enough action to satisfy even the most jaded thrill-seeker, but with a soul that lingers long after the credits roll. This is a film that demands to be seen, a must-watch for anyone who craves something fresh, something exhilarating, something unforgettable.

About Monkey Man

Synopsis: 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.

Director: Dev Patel

Writers: Dev Patel, Paul Angunawela, John Collee

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Adithi Kalkunte, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ashwini Kalsekar, Makrand Deshpande

Rating: R

Runtime: 2h 1m

Releases: April 5, 2024

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