The grind behind Dev Patel’s action scenes in ‘Monkey Man’

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The grind behind Dev Patel’s action scenes in ‘Monkey Man’ 

Dev Patel stars in 'Monkey Man'

Universal Pictures

'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,' fight coordinator Brahim Chab says

MANILA, Philippines – The minds behind Monkey Man said that the action thriller, which hits Philippine theaters on May 15 will remind viewers of classics like Oldboy, John Wick, and The Raid – with a dash of masala.

British actor and fillmmaker Dev Matel makes his directorial debut in Monkey Man, where the Slumdog Millionaire star also plays the titular role.

Dev Patel plays “Kid,” a young man who wears a gorilla mask during his nightly stint at an underground fight club. Kid then hashes out a plan to exact revenge on the people who had destroyed his childhood. 

Monkey Man draws inspiration from the Hindu deity Hanuman as well as cult-favorite revenge action films like Oldboy, The Raid and the John Wick series, according to a Universal Pictures media release, citing Patel.

“Some of my favorite movies are ‘Man from Nowhere’ and ‘Oldboy,’ also a wonderful film from Indonesia, ‘The Raid,’” Patel said in the media release. “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 official trailer released by Universal Pictures flashes back to Kid’s childhood, where he reminisces the story of The White Monkey who steps up to protect the people from those who had brought destruction to their land. Seemingly foreshadowing Kid’s present, it also cuts to scenes of Kid honing his martial arts skills and going head-to-head with his foes.

Patel, who wrote and directed the film, had undergone rigorous training for the film, working closely with fight coordinator Brahim Chab who was all praises for Patel.

Chab said he was highly impressed by Patel’s work ethic, showing up for practice sessions twice a day. He also praised Patel’s ability to perform and even enhance the choreography, making suggestions that integrated well with the story.

“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. 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 with Dev’s suggestion, with longer pieces of choreography,” Chab said. 

The grind behind Dev Patel’s action scenes in ‘Monkey Man’ 

A major highlight is the climactic, no-holds-barred fight to the death between Kid and the villain Rana (Sikandar Kher). Another standout is an action set piece in a cramped elevator, with the tight confined space adding to the choreographic challenge. Chab believes this sequence would be a favorite among action fans.

Producer Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us, and Nope) went in with modest expectations for a first-time director’s action work but was stunned by how well-executed the fight scenes were.

“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,” Peele said. – with reports from Patty Bufi/

‘Monkey Man’ hits Philippine cinemas starting May 15. 

Patty Bufi is a Rappler intern.

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