Monkey Man

Cert - 18, Run-time - 2 hours 1 minutes, Director - Dev Patel

An anonymous fighter (Dev Patel) seeks revenge on the officials who attacked his childhood village and murdered his mother.

With his directorial debut, Dev Patel further solidifies himself as one of the best British talents currently working. It's clear that the images have been in the writer-director-producer-lead's head for a long time and they come through via a lens coated in sweat and grease - a mixture of both the heat and actions unfolding on screen. The action, particularly during tracking shots, is intense, earning the film its 18 rating as Patel's anonymous fighter - taking part in illegal matches set up by Sharlto Copley - seeks revenge on the officials who attacked his childhood village and murdered his mother.

Set in India, there are hints of Bollywood action to the fights which unfold, mixed with the brutality of Gareth Evans' The Raid films, with Monkey Man also having been shot in Indonesia and featuring a gasp-inducing kitchen fight. Meanwhile, there's an air of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy to the sequences dedicated to 'Kid's' growth and increase in strength. Yet, Monkey Man feels like a unique product of its own full of individual personality, including dashes of infrequent natural humour. Halfway through as Patel's on-screen venture takes his character back to his roots it dawned on me that I was watching something truly extraordinary; one of the best action films I've seen in a long, long time. Not just because of the bloody sequences, with a number of very effective shots, but because of how the story is followed. A fairly traditional revenge-thriller arc is given a jolt of personality thanks to the world that it's set in, the way in which we feel just how long Kid has been building up anger in need of revenge - while those responsible for his years-long loss are frequently seen campaigning on TV.

Originally a Netflix production, before the studio was worried about the film's reception in India, after seeing the film Jordan Peele came on board as producer under his Monkeypaw Productions label and convinced Universal to distribute. With the impact that it has, and just how lived in everything feels, Monkey Man flourishes on the big screen. With plenty to get lost in visually, it adds further depth and impact to the narrative and where the characters go, and particularly the themes that are being dealt with.

Yet, the stylish nature of the action sequences, and the messy brutality featured in them, is what makes this a real big-screen feast. From the crowd cheering on 'Monkey Man' as he develops in the ring to a crowd of henchmen pouring out of an elevator in the flawless flow of the escalating third act, something done with a knowing grin, there's plenty to enjoy. All are held in the same believable world which brings so much to the proceedings and has forming in Patel's mind for a long time. And what a punch it has after all this time!

Jamie Skinner, Five Stars