Monkey Man: everything you need to know about Dev Patel's hard-hitting directorial debut

The Hollywood action movie gets a striking Indian makeover in the forthcoming Monkey Man. This savage blast of mayhem marks Dev Patel's directorial debut as he graduates from the role of Anwar in Skins to ass-kicker extraordinaire.

Patel directs, writes, produces and stars as Kid, an underground boxer plying his trade on the mean streets of Mumbai. He's out for revenge and the results are set to be spectacular. Here's what you need to know about the film ahead of its release this April.

What is the story of Monkey Man?

Kid is a young orphan who is haunted by his mother's savage murder. By night, he plies his trade as a bare-knuckle boxer, wearing a costume in the style of the Hindu god Hanuman. Now, Kid is out for revenge against the officials and criminals who slaughtered his family.


Is Monkey Man directed by Dev Patel?

Yes, Dev Patel helms Monkey Man and it's his feature directorial debut. Monkey Man is a longstanding passion project for Patel who hails from a Gujarati Hindu family, and he's sought to locate action movie tropes in a refreshingly different context. Think John Wick goes to Mumbai and you're close.

Yet the nuances go deeper than that: Monkey Man is embalmed in references to Hindu culture, which resonates at the core of Patel's being. In particular, the image of Hanuman is key.

“Hanuman really captivated me," Patel tells The Hindustan Times. "He has been sort of an emblem for my father and many in my family. If you go to any gym in India, there's Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman and Hanuman.

"What baffled me growing up was this iconography of this super-strong being who could hold mountains in one hand and split his chest open. It reminded me of the iconography of Superman. I was like, this is amazing, I wish the world knew about it. When you go deep into it, he is sort of a guy who has lost faith in himself and had to be reminded of who he was."

Patel adds: “I really wanted to touch on caste system in India, the idea where the poor are at the bottom, slaving away in these kitchens, then you go to the land of the kings and above them, you have God, a man-made god that is polluting and corrupting religion, and then you have heaven.”

This sociological focus fuses with jaw-dropping action sequences that place Patel at the forefront. Unsurprisingly the making of the film was gruelling and Patel even broke his hand at one stage.

“I was thinking, here we go again, production is going to go down. I was on the internet because I couldn’t wear a cast for long because we didn’t have the budget to paint it out,” Patel explained (via The Hollywood Reporter). A screw was then inserted into his hand and the fight choreography had to be altered to accommodate the injury.

“The doctor said, ‘You cannot put any pressure on it. You will ruin your hand,'" Patel recalled. "I said, ‘Got it, copy’ and went straight back into the action scene.” 

Expect a movie that makes you think and pummels your senses throughout. Get a taste of what to expect in the following clip.



Is Jordan Peele involved in Monkey Man?

Yes, Oscar-winning Get Out, Us and Nope filmmaker Jordan Peele is the producer of Monkey Man. When the film was originally set for a streaming release, Peele recognised its potential and negotiated with distributor Universal to get it onto the big screen. Now, that's what you call belief in a project.

“No one has put their soul, energy, mind, body into a film [like] this man," Peele said of Patel. "And he has done it for us to enjoy this film.”

In the following clip, Peele explains why he's so excited about Monkey Man and why you should be too.



How has Monkey Man been received by critics?

Monkey Man has been well-received by critics at this year's SXSW Film Festival. Patel's film received a standing ovation and wowed the crowds with its assured mixture of violent action and cultural commentary. It currently has a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 31 reviews, a strong start from a first-time filmmaker.

Robert Daniels of Screen International writes: "As a star, Patel has rarely been better. And as a director, he grants an intoxicatingly gruesome vision of the kind of gritty vehicles he could steer in the future."

Lovia Gyarkye of The Hollywood Reporter states: "Patel makes a fine hero. The actor is a consistently charming presence whose capabilities have only grown since Skins and his breakthrough role in Slumdog... More than a realization of childhood dreams or a reclamation of cultural traditions, Monkey Man is Patel’s assertion of belonging. It’s an attempt — ambitious, imperfect and sometimes messy — to rummage through the bits of his identity and use the findings to create his own lore."

"Dev Patel’s Monkey Man draws from the ancient lore surrounding Hanuman, a revered figure in Hindu tradition symbolizing intellect, might, valor, fidelity and discipline — much like his character in this film who is the underdog savior of the broken and the displaced," writes Valerie Complex for Deadline Hollywood


When is Monkey Man released at Cineworld?

Monkey Man is released on April 5th and you can book your tickets via the link below. Unlimited members get to watch it in advance during the advance screening on March 30th. Click here to book your tickets.