Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Dev Patel.

Starring Dev Patel, Sikander Kher, Vipin Sharma.

Action, US and India, 121 minutes, certificate 18.


Released in cinemas in the UK 5th April by Universal


One of the more surprising pieces of film news in recent months was that actor Dev Patel had made his directorial debut with an Indian martial arts movie for Netflix, only for the streaming service to drop it, supposedly for fear that the films portrayal of right-wing government figures could offend an Indian audience. Enter Jordan Peele, who, impressed after a viewing, uses his own production company Monkeypaw Productions with the help of Universal to bring the film to a cinema audience.


This roundabout series of events seems fortuitous and to Patel’s benefit. Right from the off it is apparent that even with his first film, Patel has a vision and style immediately suited to the big screen and avoids the curse of several Netflix films that vanish into obscurity a week after their release. Ostensibly a tale of revenge showing the long burning desire of Kid, an underground fighter making a living from taking a dive in his monkey mask. Flashbacks to a massacre at a village provide his motivation to infiltrate and take down an organisation involving human traffickers, corrupt cops and an even more corrupt political figure who could sway the next election.


While his past filmography may not suggest action star/director Patel takes to the genre in both roles like a duck to water. His style and handling of the action recalls the likes of Gareth Evans while fans of Hong Kong and Korean action cinema will no doubt recognise the number of nods paid throughout. Also layered throughout the blistering action is a socially conscious thread that pays particular attention to the injustices that are often meted out to Indian lower classes, particularly the country's transgender community.


It is a surprise to see such an issue looked at in a film such as this and one that proves that Patel has more on his mind than a simple smash ‘em up action movie. Despite his ambitions however straight up action fans may find that the film does suffer mild pacing issues in its second half on its way to a full-blooded showdown between Kid and his enemies. At the same time however Patel’s fresh spin on the usual tropes is always interesting with its fresh perspective and even manages to drop in often hallucinatory visuals that freshen up the usual hero’s journey storyline that we have seen many times before.


Despite the small niggle with the pacing, it is a treat to see a debut director at least attempt something new with such a well-worn genre. His handling of the action scenes alone, both as director and performer, prove that Patel more than knows what he is doing and whatever he attempts in the future will be worth keeping an eye out for. While maybe not a slam dunk success, the films mixture of ambition, social perspective, and slick action marks it out as one of the more interesting action films to come along in some time.


Iain MacLeod.


This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.


FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.

© 2000 - 2024

Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans