Monkey Man Isn’t John Wick — But It Could Be Just as Big an Action Franchise

As Monkey Man redefines the revenge thriller, audiences are already hungry for a sequel.

Dev Patel in Monkey Man
Universal Pictures

Monkey Man is not “the next John Wick” — at least, not in terms of subject matter. But the former, from writer/director/producer/star Dev Patel, shares some connective tissue with Keanu Reeves’ neon-drenched revenge saga. Both were inspired by the work of Gareth Evans (The Raid) and Bruce Lee, among others. Both were warmly received by audiences craving a return to the ultraviolent stylings of the genre. And just as John Wick went on to sire an unlikely franchise, it’s possible that Monkey Man will follow a similar trajectory.

Patel wanted to bring “a little bit of culture” to the traditional revenge fable, infusing it with Indian folklore and politics to update an older story. He’s also aware of the mounting expectations for a potential sequel — but he might not be ready to return to the ring just yet.

“I’m trying not to get ahead of myself,” Patel told Variety at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. “I know this sounds like a cliché, but just to … birth this little thing, it’s been a huge undertaking. This is all a dream come true.”

It may be a while before Dev Patel returns for the Monkey Man sequel: “just to … birth this little thing, it’s been a huge undertaking.”

Universal Pictures

Dev Patel has been vocal about the long road to getting Monkey Man off the ground. “I broke my hand in the first big action scene, broke some toes, tore a shoulder, eye infections, bruises,” the filmmaker said. Those were just a few of many setbacks: “everyday we faced absolute catastrophe,” Patel also explained in an AMA on Reddit. From securing financing to withstanding pandemic delays, the Monkey Man shoot was definitely grueling — but the success it’s already courted could make up for the ordeal of production.

In just one weekend in theaters, Monkey Man recouped its $10 million budget. It’s well on its way to raking in a major profit, and if all goes well, audiences will be on the look-out for a follow-up. Patel and his team could also get a significantly larger budget for a sequel, one that could make production a whole lot smoother.

Monkey Man brings fresh blood to the revenge thriller, and potential sequels could only expand the potential of the genre.

Universal Pictures

Patel’s reservations aside, the Monkey Man cast is at least down to return. Pitobash, who co-stars in the film, is notably “optimistic there will be a sequel.” The Indian actor shared his thoughts with Variety at the Monkey Man premiere, citing audience’s love for the film as a positive sign. “Everybody in whatever screenings we had, whether it's SXSW or some test screening — people are excited.”

Perhaps that excitement will be enough to convince Patel to return. There’s certainly an appetite for more culturally-specific action films. Monkey Man also serves as a reminder of all that Patel is capable of — not just as a performer, but as a force behind the camera. Many would love to see him return as “Kid,” and (safely) engage in some more bonkers hand-to-hand combat. There’s every chance that Monkey Man could be the next big action franchise, with subsequent installments expanding the world in fresh ways and cementing Patel as a voice to watch. Time will tell, but its biggest hurdles have already more or less been cleared: it’s only up from here.

Monkey Man is now playing in theaters.

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