— 13 March 2024

‘Monkey Man’ Isn’t Just A John Wick-Style Action Flick — It’s Dev Patel’s 007 Audition Tape

— 13 March 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Chances are, this won’t be the first Monkey Man review you’ve encountered online. But hopefully, it’ll be the last.

Even before we previewed Monkey Man, there were early signs of potential.

Dev Patel’s directorial debut — which he has also written, produced, and starred in as the protagonist simply dubbed “Kid” — was originally destined straight for Netflix. But once it was screened by Jordan Peele, the filmmaker of Get Out, Us, and Nope fame decided this deserved a theatrical release and acquired it via his Monkeypaw Productions banner.

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So was the action flick hailed as “John Wick in Mumbai” worth the hype?

Short answer: yes. And remarkably, it’s managed to distinguish itself from the comparison beyond the meta wisecrack about the Keanu Reeves franchise including within the dialogue and hypnotic setting alone.

With Monkey Man, Dev Patel has cast himself in a completely different light, one that had been unexplored within the context of his acting career. As the underground fight club journeyman and monkey god Hanuman incarnate on the reckless warpath to avenge his dead mother, there are glimpses of Bruce Lee, the simmering rage of Choi Min-sik in Oldboy, along with the gritty resourcefulness and feigned swagger of everybody’s favourite MI6 intelligence officer, James Bond.

In fact, it wouldn’t exactly be a stretch to call this an informal audition tape to be the next dutiful custodian of the coveted 007 mantle.

Patel’s bone-breaking commitment to the choreography is to be commended. From a broken foot and hand to a torn shoulder and eye infection from crawling around a real-life bathroom, his sacrifice translates brilliantly to the onscreen end product. No holds barred takes on a whole new definition, despite the countless years of John Wick we’ve endured at this stage of the culture.

Now that isn’t to say it wasn’t without any flaws: the revenge tale is one we’ve seen time and time again (though why reinvent the wheel?), often executed unevenly with rather thin and downright two-dimensional characterisations of its key players — including Patel’s singularly-motivated Kid himself; the cartoonish South African fight club promoter Tiger (Sharlto Copley), hammy accent and all; the villainous madame Queenie (Ashwini Kalsekar); as well as flimsy love interest and high-class escort Sita (Sobhita Dhulipala).

The same could be said about the reductive nature of the social commentary regarding India’s well-documented class warfare and political corruption. But let’s be clear… you don’t go to McDonald’s for the salad. And as an ultra-violent thriller from a first-time director who has matched his evident passion for action cinema with a talent for capturing challengingly frenetic — sequences where more experienced filmmakers would and have failed — we see this as an absolute triumph.

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We’ve known Dev Patel as a promising dramatic thespian for well over a decade now. His future as a director, however, could very well be even brighter at this rate.

We eagerly await whatever project the Skins alum decides to take on next.

Monkey Man officially premieres here in Australia on April 4th, 2024 — check out the official plot synopsis below and the trailer above.

Monkey Man (2024)

Rotten Tomatoes Score
R18+ 1 hour 53 minutes
Genre: Action Thriller
Actors: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sobhita Dhulipala, Sikandar Kher, Vipin Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar
Directed by: Dev Patel

Kid, an anonymous young man working in an underground fight club, sets out to exact revenge against a group of corrupt leaders, who are responsible for his mother’s death and also taking advantage of the poor and powerless people.

Now that you’ve read our Monkey Man review, check out everything else coming to Netflix Australia.

If it’s feature-length entertainment you’re after, check out the best movies on Netflix Australia right now.  

If episodic entertainment is more your style, check out the best shows on Netflix Australia instead. 

And if you’re looking to add to your streaming stack, take a look at our round-up on the best streaming services in Australia

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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