Monkey Man Review: Dev Patel’s Blood Bathed Thriller

monkey man review

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Dev Patel, an actor turned director has always been known as Jamal from Slumdog Millionaire. Throughout the years, he has consistently surprised audiences with his remarkable performances, as seen in films like The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Monkey Man is no exception. A true cinematic intense action film that showcases Patel’s talent.

Directed by Patel and produced by Jordan Peele, Monkey Man is a Bollywood movie at its core tailor-made for Western audiences, sprinkled with nods to action classics. The film delves into the gritty world of police corruption, a theme deeply ingrained in Indian cinema and society. Just as Hollywood has its fascination with mobster dramas, Bollywood has its own rich history of films exploring the dark underbelly of law enforcement, often intertwined with political extremism or the influence of charismatic yet corrupt religious figures.

Monkey Man Review
Scene from Monkey Man

Patel tells a deep woven tale of Hanuman, the revered deity known for his strength, purity, and association with wrestlers, champions, and fighters. In many households, there’s a tradition of worshipping specific deities — some prefer Ganesh, others Hanuman, and some opt for Mata Rani or Lakshmi. In this story, Hanuman takes the spotlight, representing the divine Vanara, a race of monkey-like beings. Film pays respect to the ancient Ramayana and proudly embraces its Indian roots, with dialogue in Hindi (but don’t worry, subtitles are there).

As we accompany Kid (Patel) on his journey, we see themes of rebirth that are firmly ingrained in South Asian history and mythology. The plot is rich with symbolism, from being a down-and-out boxer who takes beatings for money to going through a transforming process— no spoilers here —to address his prior traumas. Following his spiritual rebirth, Kid sets out on a voyage of self-transformation, attempting to embrace the essence of the actual Monkey Man.

Monkey Man Review
Scene from Monkey Man

John Wick Inspired Action

Patel’s cinematic vision is particularly effective in the film’s action scenes. Although there may be a disagreement regarding how they are presented, these moments are packed with raw and fierce intensity that absolutely resonates. Patel draws inspiration from the John Wick series and Bruce Lee for his innovative and devastating murders, as well as a trio of prolonged action sequences.

Inclusion of Hijra Community

A notable highlight of the film is its portrayal of the Hijra community, showcasing a representation that surpasses what is typically seen in mainstream LGBT+ media. Patel advocate for trans rights, evident in the significant presence of characters from the Hijra community in the film. This community, encompassing various third-gender groups, including transgender individuals, has long faced marginalization and discrimination.

Monkey Man Review
Scene from Monkey Man

Moreover, Kid forms a formidable alliance with the Hijra community, portraying them not just as marginalized individuals, but as powerful warriors in their own right. Patel emphasizes their strength and resilience, challenging societal stereotypes and showcasing them as integral allies in Kid’s journey.

Monkey Man is a strong start for Dev Patel in action movies. Though it has some rough spots, it’s full of energy and originality. Let’s all thank Peele for showing us this masterpiece in theatres. I’m excited to see what he does next.



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