Monkey Man: Out for Justice

In his directorial debut, Dev Patel stars as Kid, a man making a living losing fights in an underground fight club under the alias ‘Monkey Man’. Kid suffers trauma from his childhood, having watched his mother die at the hands of a police chief, Rana Singh. Now an adult, he plots his revenge on the people who killed his mother, scheming his way into working at a ‘gentleman’s club’ called Kings where he has access to Singh, as well as other high-profile politicians and law makers.

This action flick follows Kid as he works up to the police chief – and the influential religious guru behind him, Baba Shakti – including bathroom fights, car/rickshaw chases, and commentary on political/religious violence. In fact, the name Monkey Man comes from the tales of Hanuman that Kid was told by his mother as a child, and when Kid finds himself having to lay low, he is trained in an Ardhanarishvara temple by its transgender community. Both these groups of people, his mother’s, and those in the Ardhanarishvara temple, have been targeted by Shakti’s movement which opposes theirs in ideology and has more national influence.

MONKEY MAN, directed by Dev Patel

Monkey Man is different from anything I’ve seen, mostly thanks to Patel bringing Indian actors and storytelling to a mainstream audience that doesn’t see them in this light. I’m not a big action fan, but I was excited to see this film to support Patel, and the risks it takes to make stories on this scale that are not the formulaic ‘machine processed’ films that we’ve become accustomed to over the last few years.

Plus, everyone loves a good revenge movie.

Sikandar Kher is Rana in MONKEY MAN, directed by Dev Patel

We want to follow the underdog util they’re able to confront the person/force that has caused them so much pain and get them to feel what it’s been like. That, I think, shows us a little bit of who we are- we recognize that the experience of watching a parent die is an unjust one, especially at the hands of people who have more power. This experience makes us okay with anything that the grieving person needs to do to make it right, even if we would not ordinarily agree with violence. Through the tropes attached to the action genre, Monkey Man reminds us of the damage done when a difference in ideology turns physical and violent, and the cyclical nature that can take- a kid who watched his parent die grows up to kill the people who did it, but who also have people who love them and will be looking to avenge them, and on and on.

With Monkey Man, Patel makes a statement and shows that he has more to offer than he has been previously allowed to display.

Monkey Man is in theatres on Friday, April 5th, 2024.

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