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Monkey Man: Dev Patel's Brutal Bollywood Action Hybrid

2/8/2024 • 4 min read

(Updated 04/04/2024)Monkey Man | Cinemark

Dev Patel is building bridges between American, Indian, and Indonesian action movies with his first film as a director, MONKEY MAN. The action choreography seen in the first trailer is clearly linked to movies like the JOHN WICK series. The title, however, is a nod to Hanuman, the Hindu monkey deity and companion of Rama — and the movie itself nods to some of Indonesia's hard-hitting action movies of the last decade-plus.

While originally slated for a streaming release, director/producer Jordan Peele helped get MONKEY MAN a spot on Universal's theatrical calendar. Now Dev Patel's movie is set for an April debut. Check out the MONKEY MAN trailer below and we'll explain a lot more about the movie.

When Is the Monkey Man Release Date?

Universal Pictures will release MONKEY MAN in theaters on April 5, 2024.

Watch the Monkey Man Trailer

While there had been some word about the development of this movie, no one really knew anything about it until Jordan Peele tweeted out the trailer. The footage has a propulsive energy and is clearly representative of a movie made with passion — and a suggestion of Dev Patel's rapidly-developing action and filmmaking chops.

What's the Plot of Monkey Man?

Patel's character is a young man who barely scrapes by while working as a human punching bag in a monkey mask at an underground fight club. There, he's regularly beaten down by other fighters. But Patel's character is looking to avenge crimes committed against his village and his family, so he's constantly looking for a way to get closer to the people responsible.

When Patel's character gets a chance to take a job in the restaurant and club owned by a woman connected to the violence in his past, he jumps at the chance. Soon, he is literally climbing the club's hierarchy while planning his revenge.

The story in MONKEY MAN appears to take place in a city like Mumbai, India, even though the story location is ultimately fictional. The movie was filmed in Indonesia. The filming location is also represented in the movie's action style.

Dev Patel Honors Asian Action Movie Classics

You might think that MONKEY MAN would filter an admitted JOHN WICK influence through the movies produced in multiple different Indian filmmaking hubs. But MONKEY MAN doesn't look or feel like a Bollywood or Tollywood movie at all. Instead, the movie's gritty, bloody and messy combat feels like what you'd seen in an Indonesian action movie. MONKEY MAN most strongly suggests the two RAID movies by Gareth Evans, and films by Timo Tjahanto such as HEADSHOT and THE NIGHT COMES FOR US.

The frantic close-up streetwise action of MONKEY MAN also suggests classic Hong Kong action movies, and indeed, Dev Patel has often spoken of his fandom for Hong Kong action stars such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen, — and, of course, Bruce Lee.

Who's in the Cast of Monkey Man?

Writer/producer/director Dev Patel stars as "the Kid," whose life working in an underground fight club disguises his personal mission of revenge against the men who killed his mother. The cast member most recognizable to Western audiences is Sharlto Copley, (MALEFICENT, DISTRICT 9, "Russian Doll"), and there's a rich supporting cast drawn from Bollywood cinema and other regions of Indian movie production.

Sobhita Dhulipala, who made her film debut in 2016, plays her first Hollywood role in MONKEY MAN. The cast also features Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, Sikandar Kher and Makarand Deshpande.


MONKEY MAN opens on April 5.


All images courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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