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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Monkey Man (MA) - 121 minutes

Intense fight and chase scenes are par for the course in this East meets West action thriller.

 

The film was inspired by the legend of Hanuman, a deity in Hinduism, heroic, strong and loving.

 

Kid (Dev Patel) loved his mother Neela (Adithi Kalkunte), who was murdered when he was still young. His memories of her are deep and enduring.

 

All these years later, Kid seeks retribution against the greedy and corrupt officials that were behind his mother’s slaying.

 

In his sights is supposed spiritual leader Baba Shakti (Makarand Deshpande) and corrupt chief of police Rana Singh (Sikandar Kher).

Now, Kid ekes out a meagre living donning a gorilla mask and getting beaten and bloodied in an underground fight club operated by Tiger (Sharlto Copley).

 

To get to Rana, Kid finds additional work as a kitchen hand at a restaurant and club operated by the ruthless Queenie (Ashwini Kalsekar).

 

She provides drugs and prostitutes to wealthy clients, who include Rana.

By prevailing upon one of Queenie’s gophers, Kid gets access to the VIP area. A bloody confrontation with Rana follows.

 

Much more is set to play out before Kid finds his ultimate revenge, after he is trained in mortal combat, which brings mind and body together.

 

Monkey Man has much in common with the ultraviolent John Wick series, although it is not as good.

 

The plot felt very stretched and repetitive. It certainly didn’t sustain its two-hour one-minute running time.

 

At times, I found myself switching off, waiting for elongated scenes to end. So, as a co-writer and first-time director, Dev Patel has been indulgent.

 

He fares better in the acting stakes, at least if you buy into the smoldering volcano persona that his character adopts.

So too Sharlto Copley, who is sleaze personified as the illegal fight promoter.

 

Even though I have been on multiple visits to India – which I thoroughly enjoyed – and I listened closely, I had difficulty understanding several accents in the film.

 

Having said that, notwithstanding that the movie is visceral, the lack of dialogue also concerned me.

 

While the action scenes are well choreographed, I found the constant camera movement and fast editing quite distracting.

 

I got the impression that the filmmakers thought that was the best way to attract a younger audience.

 

Further, much of Monkey Man is obvious (you know relatively early on where it is heading). Nor can I categorically say that the journey is all that worthwhile taking.

 

Mixing the mythical, religious and kick butt actioner was a bridge too far for me.

 

In conclusion then, as much as I didn’t want to, I struggled with the film, which appears to be heavily marketed.

 

It is also worth pointing out that I generally like tense action films.

 

To me Monkey Man it a try hard pic, but one that didn’t come together as well as I would have liked it to.

 

Rated MA, it scores a 6 out of 10.

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