‘Monkey Man’ Review: Dev Patel’s savage revenge

Photo- SAT/NN.

MELBOURNE, 2 April 2024: I sat through two hours of ‘Monkey Man’ with  Pop Corn and a bottle of beer at the Village Cinemas, Jam Factory, with a pre-release audience around. A girl nearby kept trying to escape the movie’s rather savage violence, by covering her eyes with her hands. Dev Patel’s ‘Monkey Man’ is a violent, ferocious and blood-curdling revenge tale, like the recent Indian box office success Animal.

Dev Patel is Indian-origin Guju from Britain, born to Indian parents from Africa. His Hindu upbringing, laced with his debut ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ image lingers along with mythological memories of ‘Hanuman’, and the action ambience of John Wick and Bruce Lee.

The story based in a fictional Indian town “Yatana’ with corruption, political intrigues, slums, and what not, sees Dev Patel on a mission to take revenge for his mother’s death at the hands of a policeman because she refuses to bend to his advances. As a child he is a witness to this brutal happening. He fights boxing bouts wearing a monkey mask and later works in an elite club. The violence escalates. It crosses all limits. At one point a man’s throat is pierced with a knife and Dev pushes the knife further holding it in his mouth. Splashed blood with close ups shots. Think of brutal violence and it is there.

The movie was to be shot in Indian locations in 2020, but the pandemic stopped it. Later the shooting took place in Indonesia. Many scenes give a feel of Mumbai. Initially, it was only to stream on Netflix, but Universal Pictures came in for a theatrical release scheduled on April 5, 2024.

Technically the film is superb and slick. At times the big screen keeps moving fast (fight scenes and sound effects) with no pause. The use of Hindi songs as background music gives a cross feeling. How will Indian audiences react to the socio-political (its election time there) mentions remains to be seen. Though, not sure if it has been cleared by the Indian censors.

There is so much violence in the present day world  involving countries, communities, faiths, families, groups, individuals, rich vs poor, … It is endless. Maybe, Monkey Man is a reflection of what we are.

Monkey Man, is rated R (In Australia, R 18+ material is restricted to adults as it contains content that is considered high in impact for viewers. This includes content that may be offensive to sections of the adult community). How R works in an OTT platform could be anybody’s guess.

The movie is directed and co-written by Dev Patel (with Paul Angunawela and John Collee). It stars Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalunte, Makarande Deshpande…

Two & half stars out of five.

Releasing in Australia on April 5, 2024.

 

By Neeraj Nanda

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