Dev Patel: Actor and Martial Artist in ‘Monkey Man’

Dev Patel is the director, writer and lead actor in his directorial debut “Monkey Man.”
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures International

Dev Patel got into impeccable shape and trained rigorously for his passion project, the action thriller “Monkey Man,” which the Oscar® nominated actor (“Lion,” ”Slumdog Millionaire”) also wrote and stars in.

“Dev is one of the hardest working filmmakers I ever worked with,” says fight coordinator Brahim Chab (“The Foreigner”). “He would come to practice with me and the stunt team once in the morning and again in the afternoon. He embraced the choreography I created for the film but also brought his own suggestions that always made a lot of sense for me to adjust the fights to the story.”

Dev Patel as Kid in an underground fight club in “Monkey Man”
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures International

Inspired by the legend of the Hindu deity Hanuman, a symbol of wisdom, strength, courage, devotion and self-discipline, “Monkey Man” is an action thriller about one man’s quest for vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless. Patel plays Kid, an anonymous young man who ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. After years of suppressed rage, Kid discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city’s sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/L-Sc3Hzw_a4?si=gFIOLaZR4o3j5cvb

Dev Patel as Kid in an underground fight club in “Monkey Man”
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures International

Besides the legend of Hanuman, cult-favorite action films also inspired “Monkey Man,” including Korean revenge-action (Patel is a big fan of this genre in Korean cinema which, for him, “took the revenge genre to a whole new level”) like “The Man from Nowhere” and “Oldboy,” alongside groundbreaking film series such as “John Wick.”  In fact, some of the producers of “Monkey Man” were also producers for the “John Wick” film series.

“Some of my favorite movies are ‘Man from Nowhere’ and ‘Oldboy,’ also a wonderful film from Indonesia, ‘The Raid,’” says Patel. “We had a number of ‘The Raid’ team working on this. As well as the ‘John Wick’ team, who happen to be producers with Thunder Road. We put all of these in a blender, added some masala from India.”

The epic fight between Patel’s character, Kid, and his mother’s killer, Rana (Sikandar Kher), is a no-holds-barred fight to the death. “The final showdown with Rana was one of my favorites to create,” Chab says. “We got them both ready separately, so that when they meet… there are fireworks. The result we got out of both was beyond anything I imagined. They performed the whole fight by themselves without any doubles or camera tricks. I am certain that this fight will satisfy the audience.”

Dev Patel in action in “Monkey Man”
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures International

Kid’s final battle in Kings Club is a cinematic tour-de-force that is sure to leave audiences breathless. “When we rehearsed the fights with Dev, I realized that Dev was truly not only a gifted actor, but also one hell of a martial artist,” Chab says. “He was able to remember long chunks of choreography and knew how to sell that for the camera. Instead of having smaller cuts we went, at Dev’s suggestion, with longer pieces of choreography.”

Dev Patel and Pitobash in “Monkey Man”
(Photo Credit: Universal Pictures International)

One particular fight in the club elevator is certain to be a favorite with action aficionados. “The limited space in the elevator makes it very claustrophobic,” Chab says, “and I am sure it will be one that the audience will truly enjoy.”

No one was more impressed by the stunts that Dev Patel’s crew fashioned than producer Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us,” “Nope”). “I walked in thinking perhaps the action would be what a first-time director’s action might look like,” Peele says. Instead, he was stunned by it. “The action topped the best action films around. Dev was able to act in these sequences that were so well choreographed, had such fluidity, had so much character to the action. I know that, as an action and a revenge film, this is going to be huge.”

Get ready for insane and intense action from actor Dev Patel’s directorial debut, the action thriller “Monkey Man,” in cinemas May 15.

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