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Monkey Man better be the start of Dev Patel’s action star era

Finally, a chance for Patel to flaunt his Taekwondo black belt

Pete Volk (he/they) is Polygon’s Senior Curation Editor, with a particular love for action and martial arts movies.

I’ve been waiting years for Dev Patel’s action star moment, and it’s finally on its way. The trailer for Monkey Man, the directorial debut for the Slumdog Millionaire and Green Knight star, dropped Friday, and promises an action-packed story of class struggle in India.

Patel stars as an ex-felon recently out of jail who joins an underground fight ring wearing a monkey mask. The trailer promises class conflict, brutal fight scenes, and big set pieces — if you, like me, hope Patel gets to play James Bond some day, this seems like one hell of an audition.

In addition to directing and starring in the movie, Monkey Man is based on an original story by Patel, collaborating with Paul Angunawela and John Collee (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) on the screenplay. The fight choreography comes via industry veteran Brahim Chab, known for his work in the direct-to-video action space (Ninja: Shadow of a Tear) and in Bollywood (Ganapath, Ek Tha Tiger). Intriguingly, the movie is also co-produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions. The movie was initially set up for a Netflix-only release, but Peele reportedly loved the movie so much he helped broker a deal with Universal for a theatrical release.

A fun fact about Patel, and part of the reason why this project is such a great fit: He has a black belt in Taekwondo, and competed regularly in international tournaments as a teenager, even earning a bronze medal in the 2004 Action International Martial Arts Association World Championships. He hasn’t had many opportunities to show off those skills as an actor (to be fair, his dramatic skills are so stellar he hasn’t really needed to), but it’s high time he’s entering his action star arc, and it’s extra cool that he’s the one behind the camera for this one.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be playing this banger from the trailer on repeat until the movie comes out.

Monkey Man is coming to theaters April 5.

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