Monkey Man – Review

Worth seeing: as a dark, frenetic revenge thriller that introduces the West to eastern culture while complicating an otherwise simple story
Director:Dev Patel
Featuring:Dev Patel, Adithi Kalkunte, Ashwini Kalsekar, Makarand Deshpande, Pitobash, Sharlto Copley, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Vipin Sharma
Length:121 minutes
Country:Canada, India, Singapore, US
Released:5th April 2024


In a big Indian city, where wealth sits side-by-side with poverty, and corruption keeps it that way, a down-on-his-luck young man, calling himself Bobby (Dev Patel), makes ends meet as a bare-knuckle fighter.

He’s haunted by the death of his mother, many years earlier, when his village was burnt to the ground by religious and police leaders who are still ruling the roost.

Determined to bring the perpetrators to justice, he gets a job in a seedy night-club – where high-earners are set up with high-end hookers. The police chief who killed his mother, Rana Singh (Sikandar Kher) is among the clientele.

But Bobby’s fighting skills aren’t quite enough to bring Rana down at the first time of asking – so he’s forced to go into hiding to plot his next move.


Dev Patel returns to the mean streets where most of us first discovered him in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire – but this time, as well as being centre screen, he’s also at the heart of the project behind the scenes – directing a screenplay he’s co-written, based on a story inspired by his grandfather.

It’s a relentlessly violent revenge thriller, every bit as frenetic as Slumdog Millionaire itself, with fight scenes – in and out of the ring – interspersed with chases, with a few moments of introspection to allow him – and us – to catch a breath.

It’s clearly a passion project for the actor-turned-director – but as can often be the case in such circumstances, it will mean more to him than to us.

And because he has a better understanding of the source material than us, it doesn’t all make it to the screen, making it sometimes confusing – who’s that and why are they doing that? I thought he was done – what’s he doing now?

Some of the flashbacks aren’t too helpful in unravelling what turns out to be an unexpectedly complex narrative for the genre; these sort of things are usually as simple as A does something bad to B, B catches A, B gets revenge.

But you do get a good sense of the sex club subculture and it introduces western audiences to places, characters and lifestyles they would never otherwise meet.

It’s tense and often exciting but ultimately, it’s not as satisfying as it should be.