Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Monkey Man swings high as a combo of action and drama

Academy Award Nominee Dev Patel leaps to the action genre for his directorial debut in “Monkey Man” from Universal Pictures. Oscar Winner Jordan Peele serves as executive producer, while Patel co-writes the screenplay with Paul Angunawela and John Collee. The film takes inspiration from the legend of Hanuman, an icon embodying strength and courage.

Patel stars as Kid, an anonymous young man who eats out a meager living in an underground fight club run by Tiger (Sharlto Copley). Night after night, Kid dons a gorilla mask and is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. After years of suppressed rage, Kid discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city’s sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

“Monkey Man” appears to be inspired by action classics such as “The Raid” and the “John Wick” series. Although I do not claim to be a fan of Patel’s breakthrough film “Slumdog Millionaire,” I must acknowledge his innate screen presence. In his directorial debut, Patel divides the narrative into three distinct parts. The initial segment elucidates the protagonist’s backstory and motivational forces behind his revenge.

The film’s first part is a riveting ride that quickly captures the audience’s attention. However, the pace slows down in the subsequent phase as the focus shifts to the Kid’s training. The training sequences are well-crafted and engrossing, depicting the Kid’s relentless pursuit of vengeance. The viewer is drawn into the Kid’s character and emotionally invested in his journey.

The climactic third installment of the film is a thrilling, action-packed adventure that keeps the audience engaged until the end. The back-to-back action sequences are expertly choreographed and executed, and the viewer is taken on an exhilarating ride that will leave them breathless.

While the slower pace of the training sequences may be necessary for the narrative, action junkies may find themselves checking their watches. Despite this, the film’s more profound exploration of cultural aspects is commendable. However, action genre fans will still crave more excitement and adrenaline-pumping scenes. Overall, the film strikes a good balance between cultural depth and thrilling action.

“Monkey Man” delivers what you would expect in terms of acting, but honestly, no one will see a movie like this for monologues, so it provides just enough good for a one-time watch.

Final Grade: B

“Monkey Man” is in theaters now.

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