Kid looking determined at the camera behind a purple veil

Monkey Man

April 23, 2024
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John Wick, this is not, but it does a damn good job of trying to live up to that film’s standards, and I’m here for it.

Set years after our main protagonist, Kid (Dev Patel), witnesses his small Indian village burn to the ground along with his mother and childhood innocence, Monkey Man follows Kid as he makes his winding journey towards exacting vengeance against the ones responsible for his tragic past. Inspired by the heroic Hindu monkey deity Hanuman, Kid pushes his body and mind to their limits as an underground boxer, earning money to survive but also using the experience to fine-tune his fighting skills in the hopes that when Kid eventually does find his enemies, he’ll be ready to repay the favor in a brutal and particularly bloody way. Finally getting the opportunity to do just that after he takes a job as a kitchen cleaner at a local brothel, Kid must wait for the right moment to exact his revenge — a plan that becomes more and more dangerous the closer he comes to seeing it through.

Marking Dev Patel’s first time behind the camera as a director, Monkey Man certainly doesn’t feel like a first try, as the overall filmmaking is a few notches above what I expected. From some great cinematography and style to a refreshing Indian-inspired production design to a banger of a soundtrack right down to a tone that’s as brutal as it is funny at times, Monkey Man is at its best when focusing on its satisfyingly brutal John Wick-esque fight scenes, ones that elevate this film in a way that action fans will love. Anchored by a vengeful Dev Patel whose dedication to his role shows off his physical and emotional chops, this film, on a base level, is doing all the right things despite my having a few issues with it along the way.

Though I have nothing to complain about from an action perspective, Monkey Man does suffer from an oddly structured plot that tries to piecemeal its backstory in a way that keeps things a mystery but ends up holding too much back for too long a time, resulting in a narrative that’s serviceable for what it’s trying to accomplish yet doesn’t end up being the driving force this film really needed it to be. Throw in the fact that most of the action doesn’t happen until the third act, leading to more than a few slow and stagnant scenes than I would have liked, and Monkey Man’s missteps, while not ones that ruin the experience, add up significantly by the end of the movie, making its flaws tolerable but still noticeable.

So while Monkey Man isn’t as big a success across the board as it might have tried to be, it’s still a stellar directorial debut for Dev Patel and proves, if nothing else, that he can shoot a proper action scene that gets the blood pumping while doing justice to Indian culture and heritage in a way that can be easily appreciated and understood by people who might not know much about it. It would be unnecessary for this one to get a sequel, but I’m all for this kind of film in general, so for that, Monkey Man gets a thumbs up from me.

John Wick, this is not, but it does a damn good job of trying to live up to that film's standards, and I’m here for it. Set years after our main protagonist, Kid (Dev Patel), witnesses his small Indian village burn to the ground along with his mother and childhood innocence, Monkey Man follows Kid as he makes his winding journey towards exacting vengeance against the ones responsible for his tragic past. Inspired by the heroic Hindu monkey deity Hanuman, Kid pushes his body and mind to their limits as an underground boxer, earning money to survive but also using the experience to fine-tune his fighting skills in the hopes that when Kid eventually does find his enemies, he'll be ready to repay the favor in a brutal and particularly bloody way. Finally getting the opportunity to do just that after he takes a job as a kitchen cleaner at a local brothel, Kid must wait for the right moment to exact his revenge — a plan that becomes more and more dangerous the closer he comes to seeing it through. Marking Dev Patel’s first time behind the camera as a director, Monkey Man certainly doesn’t feel like a first try, as the overall filmmaking is a few notches above what I expected. From some great cinematography and style to a refreshing Indian-inspired production design to a banger of a soundtrack right down to a tone that’s as brutal as it is funny at times, Monkey Man is at its best when focusing on its satisfyingly brutal John Wick-esque fight scenes, ones that elevate this film in a way that action fans will love. Anchored by a vengeful Dev Patel whose dedication to his role shows off his physical and emotional chops, this film, on a base level, is doing all the right things despite my having a few issues with it along the way. Though I have nothing to complain about from an action perspective, Monkey Man does suffer from an oddly structured plot that tries to piecemeal its backstory in a way that keeps things a mystery but ends up holding too much back for too long a time, resulting in a narrative that’s serviceable for what it’s trying to accomplish yet doesn't end up being the driving force this film really needed it to be. Throw in the fact that most of the action doesn’t happen until the third act, leading to more than a few slow and stagnant scenes than I would have liked, and Monkey Man’s missteps, while not ones that ruin the experience, add up significantly by the end of the movie, making its flaws tolerable but still noticeable. So while Monkey Man isn’t as big a success across the board as it might have tried to be, it’s still a stellar directorial debut for Dev Patel and proves, if nothing else, that he can shoot a proper action scene that gets the blood pumping while doing justice to Indian culture and heritage in…

7.4

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Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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