Monkey Man: Dev Patel’s Directorial Debut

by Tara Price

15th March, 2024

Monkey Man: Dev Patel’s Directorial Debut

Monkey Man, an American action thriller, marks the directorial debut of the acclaimed actor, Dev Patel. This film, set to make waves in the movie industry, takes inspiration from many sources, including the infamous action film franchise, John Wick. The film weaves together elements of Indian mythology, urban grime, and the adrenaline-pumping scenes found in underground fight clubs.

Behind the Scenes

The creation of Monkey Man is largely credited to the creative genius of Dev Patel, who not only directed but also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Paul Angunawela and John Collee. This triumvirate showcased their exceptional writing skills, producing an engaging and thrilling narrative filled with tense fight scenes and a gripping revenge theme.

The Inception

The idea for Monkey Man was conceptualised by Dev Patel himself. His intention was to breathe new life into the action genre by merging it with elements of real trauma, genuine pain, and a touch of culture. This approach was designed to distance the film from the often-abused clichés of the action film industry.

The Influence of John Wick

The influence of the John Wick series on Monkey Man is undeniable. However, Patel’s film is not a mere copycat. While it embraces the revenge theme and intense fight scenes reminiscent of John Wick, it also infuses a unique flavour of Indian mythology and urban grime, creating a distinct identity for itself.

Dev Patel’s Role

Dev Patel in Monkey Man (2024)
Dev Patel in Monkey Man (2024)

As the director and co-writer, Dev Patel has played a vital role in shaping Monkey Man. He also stars as the lead character, named ‘Kid’, making his mark as an unlikely action hero. Kid’s character is not your typical invincible combat superstar. Instead, he’s a morose young man with a simmering rage, embarking on a personal odyssey of vengeance.

The Cast

Aside from Dev Patel, the cast of Monkey Man includes Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, and Makarand Deshpande. Each actor brings their own unique talent and persona to the film, contributing to its overall richness and depth.

The Narrative

The narrative of Monkey Man follows Kid, an anonymous young man, eking out a living in an underground fight club. Night after night, he dons a gorilla mask and gets beaten to a pulp by more popular fighters for cash. This grim existence is a result of Kid’s past traumas, primarily the brutal murder of his mother.

The Revenge Theme

The core of the narrative is Kid’s quest for revenge. Driven by the brutal death of his mother at the hands of a corrupt police officer, Kid embarks on a mission to settle the score. The officer, named Rana, is also responsible for the annihilation of Kid’s village, adding fuel to Kid’s desire for retribution.

The Influence of The Ramayan

The narrative is also heavily influenced by the Hindu epic “The Ramayan.” Specifically, it draws parallels with the deity Hanuman, representing strength and courage. This symbolic layer adds an extra dimension to the film, enhancing its cultural richness.

The Action Sequences

One of the standout features of Monkey Man is its intense action sequences. These are not your typical choreographed fight scenes. Instead, they are spontaneous and razor-sharp, with a real-world, hand-held feel. Some scenes feature Kid not only overpowering his adversaries but also getting overpowered himself. This realistic portrayal raises the stakes and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

The Setting

The setting of Monkey Man plays a significant role in amplifying the film’s gritty, raw vibe. The fictional city of Yatana, reminiscent of Mumbai, is portrayed in all its squalor and desperation. The dark, dingy lighting and volatile atmosphere contribute to the film’s overall sense of urban grime.

The Journey to the Big Screen

The journey of Monkey Man to the big screen was an interesting one. Originally backed by Netflix, the film was set to be a streaming exclusive. However, after Jordan Peele, the renowned filmmaker, saw the film, he believed it deserved a theatrical release. Peele acquired the film from Netflix under his production company, Monkeypaw Productions, and engineered a theatrical release with Universal Pictures.

World Premiere and Release Date

Monkey Man had its world premiere at the South by Southwest film festival on March 11, 2024. The film is scheduled to be released in the United States and United Kingdom on April 5, 2024.

Reception and Ratings

The reception of Monkey Man has been largely positive. On the popular review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an impressive rating of 88% based on 26 critic reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film has a score of 69 out of 100, indicating generally favourable reviews.


Monkey Man is a promising action thriller that combines the best elements of the genre with a unique cultural infusion. With Dev Patel at the helm, both behind and in front of the camera, the film is set to leave a lasting impression on audiences and critics alike. Whether it’s the unique narrative, the intense fight scenes, or the gritty portrayal of urban life, Monkey Man is an exciting addition to the action genre.

From the influences of John Wick to the infusion of Indian mythology, the film presents a unique blend of elements that make it stand out. The revenge theme coupled with the characterisation of Kid, played by Dev Patel, makes it not just another action film but a narrative with depth and emotion.

With a star-studded cast, including Sharlto Copley, Paul Angunawela, John Collee, and others, Monkey Man is a testament to the collaborative effort of a talented team. The film’s journey from Netflix to a theatrical release under Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions is a testament to its potential.

As the film is set to hit theatres on April 5, 2024, audiences worldwide are eagerly anticipating this unique action thriller. The positive reception and ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic further heighten the anticipation.

In conclusion, Monkey Man is a film that redefines the action genre, infusing it with a unique cultural element and a compelling narrative. It’s a testament to Dev Patel’s skills as a director, writer, and actor and a must-watch for any action film enthusiast.

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