We all saw the trailer for Monkey Man recently and it looked good. A revenge story, set in the slums of India. It’s now on streaming, so here is my review.

In a nutshell: Not perfect, but a damn good action movie.

Monkey Man stars Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Adithi Kalhunte, Sobhita Dhulipala and Ashwini Kalsekar. Patel is making his directorial debut and he has written, alongside Paul Angunawela and John Collee.

The Story

The story for Monkey Man is:

An anonymous young man unleashes a campaign of vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless.

I will keep things as spoiler-free as I can, apart from something, near the end.

We meet Kid (Patel) in an underground “fight club”, where he’s known as Monkey Man. Each night, fights are put on, usually by men in masks, and bets are made. Kid is trying to make enough money to get out of there. He is tough as Monkey Man, he can take a beating and can kick ass.

He needs to find a way into an exclusive VIP club. The rich and powerful frequent the club and there are people there that Kid wants to find. He plans a scam to meet Queenie, who owns the club, and he’s in.

Inside are politicians, police and other high-ranking officials. Kid is after a handful of them, in particular, Rana, the chief of police. Through flashbacks, we learn why Kid is on a mission for revenge.

That’s all I’m going to say about the story of Monkey Man. What I will say though is that the story is good, and the flashback unfolds at the right pace, giving you more of an insight as to why revenge means so much to Kid.

Directorial Debut

Patel does a very good job at the direction and with his acting. His acting is the best I’ve ever seen him do and boy does he do action well. I would have never put Petal down as an action star, but that’s all changed now.

Monkey Man is brutal, right up there with John Wick and The Raid. You feel every punch and kick and there are a few “Holy Shit” moments that made me wince. I think the action was better handled in movies like Wick and The Raid, but that’s not taking anything away from what Patel does here.

When he gets a chance to meet one of his targets, there’s a slow and gradual build-up and it puts you on the edge of your seat. There’s a fight in a bathroom that made me think of the one in one of the Mission Impossible movies. The one where Henry Cavill cocks his arms. The fight in Monkey Man was more brutal.

Very good, but…

Monkey Man is a great action movie, but it has its faults. I’m still a 90-minute man, so the run time of 2 hours could have been trimmed and still made the movie work.

It is also a little too stylised. There are lots of intimate shots of Petal, close up to his eye, seeing his fear and, although great shots, started to get a little tiresome after a while. Shots like this can be overused and I found that the case. It’s a minor nitpick though.

There is a whole section of him “rebuilding himself”, like with any movie like this. I found it’s a little cliché, as he learns to punch to the rhythm of a drum. The whole section felt a little too long. Speak of which.

The Message

*spoilers ahead – you have been warned*

Kid takes a bullet at one point and finds himself in a temple, which is holy ground even to the police. There is a wise sage who gets him back on his feet, but there is also a group of other “misfits to society”, these include some trans people and members of the LGBT.

I got the impression that India is very old school and people cannot be openly members of the LGBT community. They all hide in the temple, where Kid does his recovery, and helps him take on the oppressive police.

I was fine with this until the final battle. Kid is going back to the club to kill everyone there, a tough mission for a lone soldier. It turns out that most of the other members of the temple are ex-police/military and join him and kick everyone’s ass. I had to roll my eyes at this.

*end of spoilers*



Monkey Man is a great movie. I sat and watched the whole thing, never once picking up my phone or checking the time. The story is solid, the cast is excellent, and Petal has made a great movie. It’s brutal, it made me cry and it’s a very engaging story.

I don’t know if it will go down in the annals of history as one of the best action movies of all time, but it’s certainly one of the best this year. It will probably stay in my Top Five for 2024.

Monkey Man is streaming on Amazon in the US for rental at the moment and you should check it out.


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