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Monkey Man Review: Patel's Sweet Directorial Debut with Intense Action

Monkey Man marks Dev Patel's first directorial debut. Apart from playing the main character, the British-born actor is also the life of the film as a scriptwriter with Get Out and Us's Jordan Peele as producer.

It shows mesmerizing and beautifully choreographed action from start to finish in an emotional story that covers various issues, from religion, politics, and gender to social class in India.

Action movie with culture preferences

Kid (Dev Patel) grew up in the slums of India and earns a living by fighting in a monkey mask in an underground arena. He looks for a way to rise to a higher social class by entering a bar owned by Queenie (Ashwini Kalsekar), filled with influential people. He becomes close to one of the workers there, Sita (Sobhita Dhulipala).

Monkey Man review

Thanks to Alphonso's (Pitobash) help, Kid worked as a barmaid until he was finally assigned to serve VIP customers in a designated area. The motive behind his persistence in entering the upper class is to avenge the death of his mother, who was killed by Tiger (Sharlto Copley).

Anyone who has seen the Monkey Man trailer might think that this film was inspired by John Wick (2014). It also adds homage and innuendo to Reeve's most packed action. Despite a similar theme of revenge, it displays a different vibe of bloody action that builds more layers than all of Wick's franchise.

Not only does it present a story of revenge, but this film also combines various elements that make the story richer, including the Hanuman mythology, which is the foundation of the film's narrative.

Patel performed phenomenally. He gives the character who is strong on the outside but fragile on the inside with a whole meaning about loss and the struggle to survive. The audience is brought to know Kid (Patel), who wants revenge for the death of his mother at a slow pace in the first few minutes. Patel explores the tragic loss and its relation to social struggle and government corruption in the first half until the gore and intense action kicked in.

Dev Patel on Monkey Man

Cinematography, action choreography, and camerawork are presented with style. *chef's kiss*. The choice of contrasting the color grading inputs another layer of perspective, emphasizing the dark impression but pleasing to the eye.

Sweet directorial debut

Nothing is perfect. Some parts and choreography still need to be polished, including the editing, which feels 'ruptured.' However, since this is his first directorial debut, Patel proves he has what it takes to be a promising director in the future.

Patel answered the challenge by giving the audience both good action and social commentary about minority oppression, the politicization of religion, and the apparent social inequality in India. The result? Complex and dense high-tense action from start to finish.

Monkey Man review

The comparison between the rich and poor social classes in this film is vaguely reminiscent of Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Patel's first ever film.

The story is neatly constructed. It was built slowly to cultivate curiosity and interest in the main character. The audience delved into the feelings and trauma the main character experienced. It supported the revenge in a well-structured build-up until the middle of the story.

Initially taking place in India, the shooting was sadly halted due to COVID-19 constraints. Patel and his team moved the shooting location to Batam, Indonesia

Monkey Man brings a new flavor; an action-packed revenge movie wrapped in mythology conveys issues that are hot in India and almost throughout the world regarding corruption, oppressed communities, authoritarianism, and pseudo-nationalism.

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