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Movies & TV

13th Mar 2024

Gritty new action film compared to John Wick getting rave reviews

Simon Kelly

Monkey Man

“The badass factor here is strong.”

A new action film is getting rave reviews being compared to titans of the genre like The Raid and John Wick by viewers.

Debuting at SXSW festival this week, Monkey Man received a rare standing ovation from the audience, which brought director, co-writer and star of the film, Dev Patel, to tears.

It’s the Skins and Slumdog Millionaire star’s directorial debut and from its premise, a very brave first move to make in filmmaking.

Monkey Man focuses on a man named Kid who makes a living by getting routinely pummeled at underground Indian fight clubs while wearing a monkey mask. Kid eventually works up his rage and trauma to unleash revenge on the corrupt elite of the city who take advantage of the powerless and, most importantly, killed his mother.

Monkey Man (Universal)

Sobhita Dhulipala, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, and Sharlto Copley also star in the flick, which is produced by horror extraordinaire Jordan Peele.

Apparently destined for direct-to-streaming on Netflix, Peele saw an early screener of Monkey Man and loved it so much he subsequently rescued it for the big screen release he thought it deserved.

Gritty new action film, Monkey Man, compared to John Wick getting rave reviews

From the trailer alone, it looks like a blood-soaked thrill ride and the reviews trickling out about it seem to back that up, with a very strong 88% on Rotten Tomatoes – particularly impressive for a debut feature.

Labelled a “spectacular revenge thriller”, critics are going wild over the film and comparing it to huge action franchises like John Wick.

However, Patel himself played down comparisons to the Keanu Reeves flicks, saying that the franchise is more of an American touchstone, and his film had many more global cinema influences.

“I love John Wick,” he said at the premiere. “I’m a huge fan of the franchise, but this film is born from my love of so much action cinema expanding from Bruce Lee to Sammo Hung to Jet Lee to Jackie Chan to the Korean cinema and also Bollywood.”

You can check out what some reviewers are saying below:

IndieWire – “It’s a free-for-all of headrush filmmaking… Its lack of grounding wide shots makes the film feel unmoored at times, which inhibits emotional engagement. But the badass factor here is strong.”

AV Club – “It’s a muscular, emotional, ferocious triumph of a movie, and when it’s over, you’ll want to go right back in and watch it all over again.”

Hollywood Reporter – “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.” – “Monkey Man may be an origin story for a future action franchise character, but it feels more to me like an origin story for a future action star and director.”

Monkey Man releases in cinemas on April 5.

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