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Monkey Man movie review & film summary (2024)

March 13, 2024 - Movies

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Inspired by the legend of Hanuman, “Monkey Man” stars Patel as an unnamed fighter named ‘Kid’ in the credits. In the ring, he wears a gorilla mask and fights for money from a sleazy promoter played by Sharlto Copley. He is beaten most nights of the week, getting extra cash if he bleeds. With his deeply scarred hands and silent countenance, the Kid may not look like the strongest guy in the room, but Patel uses those incredibly expressive eyes early to convey drive. This young man has a goal. Nothing will stop him.

Through an act of thievery, the kid gets a job working at an exclusive club that attracts the most important power players in the city, including political leaders and the chief of police (Sikandar Kher) who destroyed his life. Faces in the supporting cast start to recur like a beautiful club worker (Sobhita Dhulipala) and a reluctant ally of sorts who gets caught up in the plan (Pitobash), but this is Patel’s movie. His character—in present or flashback—is in nearly every scene as we chart his ascendance from ordinary guy to killing machine.

On that last note, those coming to “Monkey Man” looking for non-stop action may be a little surprised by its structure. It’s basically a lengthy set-up followed by a lengthy action sequence, and then repeat. Other than the fight scenes and a lot of training, there are really only two action sequences in “Monkey Man,” but they’re worth the build-up. Patel has taken action templates from around the world and infused them with an insane brutality not often seen in films with a Hollywood studio logo. “Monkey Man” is bloody and intense. Bones break, blood spurts, and you feel the connection in ways you don’t often in action lately—even the good stuff has gone more “highly-choreographed” like “John Wick” or “Mission: Impossible.” While the choreography here is still phenomenal, there’s a sweaty, improvised quality to it that adds to its kinetic thrust. It’s impossible to look away or know what’s coming next. And credit to editors David Jancso & Tim Murrell and cinematographer Sharone Meir, who keeps his camera loose and fluid, almost like another fighter in the room.

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