Monkey Man Ends Its 10 Year Journey To The Big Screen, Dev Patel Details His Passion Project

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

Passion projects by directors often take circuitous routes to be made, and Dev Patel’s Monkey Man is no exception. The action film is something Patel has been trying to get made for a decade, and it’s worth celebrating that the movie is finally done and coming to theaters. It’s a film that had to overcome industry expectations, a global pandemic, and personal injuries to make it to theaters. 

A Passion Project

Dev Patel isn’t just the director of Monkey Man but also the writer and lead actor, highlighting how much of a personal project the movie was for him. The actor and director, best known as the star of Slumdog Millionaire, has always wanted to star in an action movie but recognized that he would have to make that opportunity for himself. By directing and writing his own action vehicle, Patel was able to make his action-hero dreams come true. 

However, Patel’s particular passions, outside of his love for Bruce Lee movies, are also on display in the passion project. He studied Taekwondo when he was young, medaling in martial arts competitions, giving the martial arts focus of Monkey Man a personal touch. His passion for Hindu mythology, particularly the story of Hanuman, the monkey-faced deity, is also on display in the movie’s imagery. 

Classic Quest For Revenge

Monkey Man follows a protagonist named Kid on a quest for revenge against his mother’s killers. Kid earns a living by getting beat up while wearing a monkey mask in an underground fighting ring but becomes a proper action hero when he discovers the identity of his mother’s killers. It’s a classic setup for an action movie, with its use of Hindu symbolism and marital arts focus giving it a distinct flair. 

A Long Journey To Theaters

It took years for the movie to begin production, with Monkey Man finally getting greenlit in 2018 and filming beginning in 2020. Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic created more shooting delays; among the numerous problems caused by the pandemic, every movie made at that time experienced. Patel also experienced several on-set injuries, including a broken hand, broken toes, and an eye infection, which further delayed shooting. 

Saved By Jordan Peele

Even once Monkey Man was made, it continued to run into hurdles. The film was dropped by its studio, making a theatrical release unlikely. Jordan Peele, of Get Out and Key and Peele fame, picked the film up after seeing an early cut and made its theatrical release possible, salvaging Patel’s passion project. 

Under Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, Monkey Man will get a full theatrical release through Universal Pictures. That gives Patel’s passion project the respect and prestige it deserves, saving it from the straight-to-streaming stigma that often causes critics and audiences to write a movie off. Patel jokingly compared Peele’s intervention to Richard Gere giving Julia Roberts his credit card in Pretty Woman, allowing her to shop at the store she’d previously been kicked out of. 

Now In Theaters

Monkey Man isn’t just Dev Patel stepping into the world of action movies, it’s the culmination of a passion project he’s spent ten years getting made despite numerous obstacles. In an era dominated by pre-existing universes and IP, it stands out as a personal, original story crafted by a single writer/director/actor. Monkey Man will finally be in theaters on April 5, 2024.

Source: Entertainment Weekly