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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Monkey Man"


Let’s be clear here:  Dev Patel is NOT playing around.  Well, more specifically his character is NOT playing around in Patel’s latest film which also he co-wrote and happens to be his feature-directing debut in Monkey Man.

 

His character never really has a name outside of “Bobby,” but honestly that is not that big of a deal in this film.  He is a man who is on a mission to avenge the death of his mother that he had to witness as a child as his village burned to the ground due to a group of corrupt police led by Rana (Sikandar Kher).  Earning money as a masked underground fighter to a shady promoter (Sharlto Copley), he finds his opportunity to start his elaborate plan when he works his way into a job at a hotel with Queenie (Ashwini Kalsekar) as his boss.  This hotel is the hotbed for illegal activity on every level, and as “Bobby” starts the path that he believes will give him peace, he finds there may be a lot more than he bargained for.

 

Patel himself got a black belt in Tae Kwan Do when he was 16, so I am sure he was stoked to be able to use his skills in a film like this.  Striking an amazing balance of story and violence, this film carries a level of suspense that I have not seen (much less felt) in a LONG time.  Playing out like a graphic novel (I actually needed to double-check and make sure this wasn’t adapted from one), this script takes the “slow burn” approach to revealing its protagonist’s motivations succeeds on a level that so many other action films just cannot.  Normally, I would complain about a story that unfolds at the crawling pace that this one does, but Patel and co-writers Paul Angunawela and John Collee put together a story that gives each and every detail to the larger narrative in a way that forced me to be patient all the way through.  Believe me when I type this, the ride is MORE than worth it.

 

The action sequences are done in a way that feels organic and gritty, even using GoPros and iPhones due to budget constraints (and that actually works in its favor).  There are not the normal “quick cut” sequences that has become common in the current age with Patel choosing to let the fantastic fight choreography of veteran stuntman Brahim Chab.  Patel’s love for the films of Bruce Lee, Korea, and Bollywood is fully on display here, and it’s FANTASTIC.

 

I will definitely be seeing Monkey Man at least once more during its theatrical run if for no other reason that this is the type of film that needs to be witnessed with a large group of people.  Sure, it’s still good enough to be watched on one’s own, but the cheers for some of the coolest fights put on film in quite some time alone is more than worth it.  And pace yourself: you don’t want to leave your seat at all.

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