Monkey Man: Bruce Lee as a model… What was the physical preparation to become this new John Wick?

On the occasion of the release of “Monkey Man”, here are five things to know about this film in the tradition of John Wick, directed and performed by Dev Patel.

What is it about ? In India, a young man is released from prison. He finds himself in a world where the greed of business leaders reigns and, conversely, the erosion of spiritual values.

Dev Patel fighter

A black belt in taekwondo since he was 16, Dev Patel has continued to train to be in impeccable physical shape for Monkey Man. Combat coordinator Brahim Chab says: “Dev is one of the most diligent filmmakers I’ve ever worked with. He came to practice with me and the stunt team every morning and again in the afternoon. He followed the choreography that I created for the film but also brought his own suggestions that always made sense to me in order to connect the fights to the story.”

Musculature-wise, Dev Patel sought to get as close as possible to Bruce Lee. An objective which necessarily had to involve a strict diet, in parallel with physical training (mainly based on body weights, elastic strength training bands and of course multiple repetitions of choreographies): “I ate salmon, sweet potato and lettuce three times a day, every day of the week, for nine months”.

A long-standing project

Dev Patel spent about eight years of his life, between two projects, refining the script for Monkey Man: “It’s about taking one of the oldest legends in Indian mythology and putting a modern spin on it, so I hope it will allow this story to be known on an international level and why not create a whole new superhero epic, something totally original. It’s a film that vibrates with energy, soul and heart, with insane action scenes.

Universal Studios

Dev Patel

Revisiting a legend

Monkey Man is inspired by the legend of the Hindu deity Hanuman, a symbol of wisdom, strength, courage, devotion and self-discipline. The legend of the divine monkey dates back to between 1500 and 1200 BCE and first appears in a verse of the Rig Veda, a collection of ancient hymns considered one of the four canonical Hindu texts.

As depicted in the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata (Great India) and Ramayana (The Legend of Ram), Hanuman the Monkey God is the patron of wrestlers and appears as a symbol of freedom. Physically invincible, but deeply human, he warns his supporters against the “precarious nature of unbridled power”.

According to legend, Hanuman broke his jaw when he fell from the sky after trying to catch the sun as a child. Beloved by his disciples and followers, Hanuman has since connected to the Divine by putting himself at the service of the people.

Monkey Man brings this legend into the modern world, where a broken young man, Kid, becomes a powerful weapon and the destroying angel of vengeance against powerful and corrupt leaders who oppress the very people they are meant to serve. The film is set in the fictional Indian town of Yatana, a Sanskrit word that can mean struggle or effort, but also revenge.

Originally streaming

Monkey Man was originally planned to be released on Netflix, but once filming was completed, Dev Patel and his fellow producers sought partners to take the film to the next level via a theatrical release. Win Rosenfeld and Ian Cooper, from Jordan Peele’s production team at Monkeypaw, quickly came forward. Cooper explains:

“When Monkey Man changed direction in its theatrical distribution, we heard about it and got a first look at it. We immediately fell in love with the story and worked to move the film forward. We took it to Universal, who took care of it throughout the post-production process, right up to the final stretch for release.”

Batam, Indonesia

The film’s shooting mainly took place in Batam, Indonesia. Dev Patel remembers: “My team was wonderful and sweated it out there. It was a crazy, action-packed adventure – blood, sweat, tears, broken bones, literally, for this revenge film based about spirituality and faith The action takes place in a modernized India, and we chose one of the oldest myths it has to give it a whole new resonance.

“We took something ancient and made it something never seen before. The film vibrates with energy, soul and culture, and some of the craziest action scenes.”

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