Our Review

                Movie:  MONKEY MAN

   Rating:  R, strong bloody violence    throughout, rape, language throughout,           sexual content/nudity and drug use`

                          Length: 2:01

            Release Date: April 5, 2024

Jeanne: Revenge can be the ultimate motivator. In MONKEY MAN, Dev Patel’s directorial debut, in which he also stars, developed the story and co-wrote the screenplay, revenge is the entire reason for his character, Kid’s, existence. Based on the story of Hanuman, the Monkey God, as told to Patel by his grandfather, he has modernized the fable as a “love letter” to his family.


Kid (Patel) has grown up on the streets after the unforgiveable destruction of his childhood village and brutal death of his mother, Neela (Adithi Kalkunte). He earns a meager living by wearing a monkey mask and being pummeled every night in an underground fight club run by Tiger (Sharlto Copley). His fate takes an unlikely turn when he convinces Queenie (Ashwini Kalsekar), the diabolical manager of Kings Club, to give him a job --- any job.


He starts off as a dishwasher and thanks to Alphonso (Pitobash), a gofer at the club, he advances to a cocktail server in the elite lounge. This is all part of Kid’s plan. Two of the most important patrons of Kings Club, Rana (Sikander Kher), the ruthless police chief, and Baba Shakti (Makarand Deshpande), a revered guru who is anything but good, are at the top of Kid’s list for his revenge.


Kid is aided in his quest by Alpha (Vipin Sharma), mother of the mystical third-gender tribe known as the hijra, who have a long spiritual history in Hindu culture. After Kid almost dies, Alpha and the other hijras take him in to heal him and keep him safe. It is during this time that Kid transforms himself into a real fighter, thus enabling himself to complete his mission.

MONKEY MAN is certainly a wild ride. Filmed in Batam, Indonesia, cinematographer Sharone Meir worked with Patel to bring his raw and frenetic screenplay, which Patel co-wrote with Paul Angunawela and John Collee, to life. To write that MONKEY MAN is violent is rather un understatement. But the violence in Patel’s original story seems totally justified.


Patel is a huge fan of action films, particularly the Korean revenge genre, and “wanted to make an anthem for the underdogs”. He has succeeded mightily. The action in MONKEY MAN is virtually non-stop and even though there is a lot of bloody fighting, which I normally detest, I found Patel’s film riveting.


Fight coordinator, Brahim Chab, got Patell into amazing shape for this movie. He also choreographed the fight scenes which are spectacular, especially the one in the elevator at Kings Club and the major battle between Kid and Rana. There were no doubles or camera tricks, just Patel and Kher fighting it out.


And though car chase scenes have become so commonplace, MONKEY MAN features a truly exciting one with a suped up tuk-tuk, an auto rickshaw, owned by Alphonso. As Kid and Alphonso go careening through the streets, the action is heart stopping.


Patel’s performance is a tour-de-force, a feat made even more impressive by the fact he directed. He wrings every emotion out of Kid with little dialogue. And his martial arts skills are dynamic. Besides his fighting sequences, some of Patel’s best moments come in his scenes with Sharma, who is, himself, remarkable. Their chemistry is undeniable --- that of wise sage and committed student.


The entire cast and crew are superb. Though MONKEY MAN is not for every moviegoer, those who love a great action film and don’t mind blood and violence will find Patel’s accomplishment very entertaining.


Opinion: See It Now!

David: MONKEY MAN, starring and directed by Oscar nominee Dev Patel, may be one of the most talked about films of the year. Its extreme violence likely would invite a stronger warning than an “R” rating, but MONKEY MAN is a story about righteous vengeance and the fight between good and evil.


Patel also co-wrote the screenplay with Paul Angunawela and John Collee about the seedy side of India. Actually, the movie was filmed in Indonesia. His character, Kid, is the fall guy in an underground fight club who gets battered nightly in order to make money.


At the boxing venue, Kid wears a full gorilla mask and becomes known as The Beast. The screaming patrons love to bet against him, and the club’s MC, played by Sharlto Copley, eggs the crowd on.


Kid, looking for a real job, manages a menial position at a posh brothel run by the overbearing Queenie (Ashwini Kalsekar). The handsome Patel makes for the classiest dishwasher ever on film with his crisp white dress shirt and blue suspenders. There he makes a friend of Alphonso (Pitobash) who becomes his mentor of sorts. Alphonso manages to get Kid elevated to a waiter where he is immediately ridiculed by a wealthy patron for pouring red wine into a white wine glass.


Things change for Kid as he begins a regimen of training to become a legitimate fighting machine. The sequence with Kid, shirtless, pummeling a heavy bag to hone his boxing skills and witnessed by several gawking women, is priceless. And its physical demands are handled flawlessly by Patel.


However, constantly nagging at Kid are the memories of his murdered mother, Neela (Adithi Kalkunte), at the hands of a cruel police chief, Rana (Sikander Kher). Kid was only about seven or eight when he witnessed the unthinkable horror of his mother’s demise. And now as an adult he lusts for revenge.

MONKEY MAN is a full-on action film with amazing cinematography. It’s not always easy to figure out who’s winning any given fight scene, but it’s all quite exciting. A major car chase features an auto rickshaw called a tuk-tuk, which practically becomes a character of its own.


One aspiration of Patel as director and writer was to address the grievances of the caste system where some underclasses in India to this day are barely considered people. When Kid challenges the powers that be in the fictional city of Yatana, he enlists the aid of oppressed female fighters known as hijras who join him in the film’s biggest fight sequence.


Many movies which contain a lot of violence do so in a gratuitous manner merely to create an atmosphere that is perceived as thrilling. In MONKEY MAN the violence is anything but gratuitous because it serves the noble purpose of a tragically wronged young man to seek vengeance on the perpetrators.


Initially MONKEY MAN was targeted for direct-to- streaming exposure. But Academy Award winner Jordan Peele, who produces with his Monkeypaw team, watched the early film and loved it so much he was instrumental in getting it into movie theaters.


Opinion:  See It Now!