Monkey Man

Raise your hand if you had Dev Patel on your bingo card as the next action movie star. Didn’t think so. Now, raise your hand if you also had him directing an action movie starring himself as an action hero. I didn't either.

Well, he does both (actually, he also co-writes, and co-produces alongside Jordan Peele) in Monkey Man, the bare-knuckles action thriller which was originally intended for Netflix before being dropped, supposedly due to the film’s uncomfortable political undertones. It’s that very discomfort that makes the film what it is. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s also a whole hell of a lot of fun.

"it’s uncomfortable, but it’s also a whole hell of a lot of fun"

In a world rife with revenge fantasies, Monkey Man emerges as a rare gem that artfully blends unbridled vengeance with a pointed critique of social inequities in India. Directed by Dev Patel, known for his dynamic performances in front of the camera, the film marks a striking directorial debut, showcasing an adept handling of the complex narrative and powerful action sequences.

Patel’s film is a revenge-driven action thriller wrapped tightly around both the raw energy of Indian mythology and the pervasive impact of social classification. The story follows “Kid” (Patel), a character whose trajectory from rags to vengeance-fueled rogue, echoes the tale of Hanuman, the revered Monkey God. This parallel extends beyond metaphor by injecting the narrative with a texture of mythical struggle against the injustices of a deeply ingrained caste system.

Via flashbacks, we learn that Kid grew up in the very bottom of the caste system in a fictional Indian city. After his mother was killed and family uprooted from their destroyed village, Kid worked and scrapped his way up the system with hopes of eventually avenging his mother’s death.

After years of suppressed rage, he begins fighting in an underground boxing ring while wearing a monkey mask to conceal his identity. He soon 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 and his family.

The action sequences are where Monkey Man truly stands out, especially considering Patel's novice status as a director. These scenes are viciously enthralling—both uber-violent and gritty in the same breath. The martial arts choreography on hand is a visual feast comparable to an elaborate dance of fury and focus which contributes significantly to the emotional depth that runs beneath the fight for justice. Sharone Meir’s brilliant cinematography toggles between the austere backdrop of Kid's childhood and his present-day vendetta, while crafting an energetic tapestry that draws viewers deep into Kid's troubled psyche.Monkey Man

While the kinetic camerawork occasionally succumbs to an overzealous shakiness during the heat of conflict, this raw approach manages to amplify the primal rage and desperation that fuel Kid's quest. Though probably intentional to hide the flaws, it certainly works. What’s most impressive is how the movie, albeit steeped in an overtly bleak tone, humanizes its central figure by transforming an archetypal character into a flesh-and-blood crusader battling a corrupt society. Patel is an unquestioned badass, albeit an unexpected one. Count us in for the coming onslaught of Monkey Man sequels and spin-offs down the road.

Monkey Man grips the audience with a story that's as emotionally charged as it is electrifying. Patel never shies away from paralleling iconic action flicks such as John Wick, Old Boy, or any of the hundreds of Korean martial arts films, yet does so with a keen awareness of his artistic voice. The result is a film that reverberates with authenticity and ambition—qualities that will particularly enamor martial arts enthusiasts and action aficionados alike.

Through deft storytelling and a strong directorial hand, Dev Patel has delivered an experience that not only thrills and excites but also provokes thought and empathy. Monkey Man is more than a cinematic spectacle; it is a visceral odyssey into the heart of darkness, and against all odds, a beacon of triumphant spirit.

4/5 stars


Monkey Man

4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital 4K

Home Video Distributor: Universal Studios
Available on Blu-ray
- June 25, 2024
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English SDH, French; Forced subtitles
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1; Audio descriptive
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A

Universal goes all in with its 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital 4K edition of Monkey Man.

With a great transfer and plenty of bonus material to please the film'a fans, this Collector's Edition gets a strong recommendation for 4K UHD and action movie enthusiasts.


Nothing to complain about. In fact, grunge never looked as good as it does here. The 2160p 2.39:1 picture comes with an HEVC codec and HDR10 standard

Black. Black is the predominant color throughout and it is deep and dark, beautifully contrasting the film's vibrant color palette of purples, blues, greens, and neon oranges. Despite its dark interiors and exteriors, everything holds up nicely with few flaws. It is beautifully handled with sharp details in foreground elements.

This is a dirty film. From the filthy streets of its Southeast Asia setting to the film's grimy subject matter, a nice cleansing shower after viewing will most certainly be in order. Cinematographer Sharone Meir's camera work becomes a major star of the film and Universal's handling of the transfer is exactly what the UHD format was made for.


Monkey Man's Dolby Atmos track is where it's at with a beautifully realized, very active sound stage throughout the film. Every corner of the room finds action as knocks, screams, punches, and kicks immerse us in a 360-degree arena. The perfect film for a surround sound home theater. Enjoy!

Fast forward to the 38-minute mark for a stirring, echo-y rendition of Grace Slick's Somebody to Love vocals. It is mesmerizing.


I suppose the included bonus material qualifies as "Collector's Edition," but who knows any more what those qualifications are? We get more than an hour of alternate endings and beginnings, deleted scenes, and EPK features as well as a feature commentary with many of the film's primaries.


  • Feature Commentary with Director/Actor/Writer/Producer Dev Patel, Producers Jomon Thomas and Sam Sahni, and Co- Producer Raghuvir Joshi

Special Features:

  • Alternate Opening (03:58)
  • Alternate Ending (02:45)
  • A Labor of Love (08:44)
  • Monkey Man of Action (08:35)
  • Fateful Encounters (07:21)
  • Roots Exposed (03:02)

4k rating divider

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details

Monkey Man

MPAA Rating: R.
121 mins
: Dev Patel
Paul Angunawela; John Collee; Dev Patel
Dev Patel; Sharlto Copley; Pitobash
: Action | Thriller
One small ember can burn down everything.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You like John Wick? I have the same gun from the movie!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 5, 2024
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 25, 2024
Synopsis: An anonymous young man unleashes a campaign of vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless.


Monkey Man