7 best movies like 'Monkey Man' and how to watch them

Monkey Man
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Actor Dev Patel ('Slumdog Millionaire', 'The Green Knight') is back on the big screen with 'Monkey Man' — a brutal action film which he not only stars in and co-wrote, but also directed.

Having acted in such thoughtful dramas as 'Lion' and 'Hotel Mumbai', we don't think many could've predicted that his directorial debut would be an ode to violent revenge actioners (we should have guessed it from his martial arts background, where he holds a 1st dan black belt in Taekwondo).

We're glad he did though — 'Monkey Man' is a frenetic and visceral film that returns the action genre to a more grounded place, away from the increasingly unrealistic, superhero-inspired theatrics of the later 'John Wick' films (although there's no denying that 'Monkey Man' takes at least some inspiration from the Keanu Reeves franchise).

But 'Monkey Man' is more than this — it's also a film steeped in South Asian culture, with a story inspired by the legend of Hanuman, the Hindu god with the face of a monkey who embodies the characteristics of strength, valour, loyalty, devotion, humility and service.

Despite being filmed primarily in Indonesia, 'Monkey Man' is a distinctly Indian story, told against the backdrop of the country's class disparity, where the gap between the rich and poor has never been greater.

It's this intentional depth and subtext that no doubt inspired producer Jordan Peele ('Get Out', 'Nope') to rescue 'Monkey Man' from streaming obscurity, giving it the wide theatrical release it deserves.

'Monkey Man' is now showing in cinemas Australia-wide, and you should definitely go see it. Once you've done that, we encourage you to keep the action adrenaline going with these 7 top films that are like 'Monkey Man'. Here's how you can watch them.

'The Man from Nowhere'

A clear inspiration to 'Monkey Man', 'The Man from Nowhere' is a fantastic Korean revenge film that sees a quiet pawnshop worker (Won Bin) with a mysterious past set out on a violent rampage when the little girl who lives next door (Kim Sae-ron) is taken by drug and organ traffickers. 

It's likely that some viewers will find 'The Man from Nowhere' hard to stomach at times, but rest assured that the people responsible for all the bad things that happen in the film will absolutely get what's coming to them.

Buy The Man from Nowhere on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Amazon

'The Raid'

Easily the most influential actioner of the last 15 years, 'The Raid' is a groundbreaking martial arts film from Indonesia that not only redefined the boundaries of the action cinema, but whose DNA can be seen in the likes of 'John Wick', 'Extraction', 'Monkey Man' and even 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'.

A masterclass in economical storytelling, 'The Raid' sees a S.W.A.T. team infiltrate a multi-storey tenement building run by a notorious gangster, only to find themselves trapped and severely outnumbered by gun and machete-wielding thugs. Now, they must fight to stay alive.

Rent or buy The Raid on Prime Video

'The Night Comes for Us'

Taking the precedent set by 'The Raid' and cranking up the violence to extreme levels, the Netflix Original film 'The Night Comes for Us' is not for the faint of heart. In fact, the bodily destruction dealt in this Indonesian actioner can seem like something out of a horror film at times — you have been warned.

Another thing 'The Night Comes for Us' shares with 'The Raid' is its two lead actors, Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais, who both showcase some seriously deadly martial arts skills. Taslim plays a gangland enforcer who finds himself in a world of trouble when he turns on his Triad to save a young girl, while Uwais is tasked with taking him down.

Stream 'The Night Comes for Us' on Netflix

'Fist of Fury'

Dev Patel credits Bruce Lee's 'Fist of Fury' as the film that made him want to be an actor, and we can see its influence leading all the way up to 'Monkey Man'. Apart from being an incredible showcase for Lee's burning charisma and iconic martial arts prowess, 'Fist of Fury' is also about one man embarking on a quest for revenge against the Japanese dojo responsible for the death of his master. 

It's worth noting that the film takes place during Japan's occupation of Shanghai in the 1930s/1940s, where Bruce Lee essentially represents Chinese patriotism.

Stream 'Fist of Fury' on Tubi

'Ong Bak'

'Ong Bak' introduced the world to martial arts superstar Tony Jaa, a man of such incredible physical prowess, seeing him in action is like witnessing a real-life superhero. It tells the story of a young Muay Thai fighter who ventures out of his village into the mean streets Bangkok in order to retrieve the stolen head of a sacred Buddhist statue. Before long, his quest leads him into the world of underground fighting.

While nowhere near as deep or serious as 'Monkey Man', 'Ong Bak' shares a few similarities with that film outside of its stellar fight choreography. Both films feature illegal fighting, a goofy sidekick character, and an epic police chase involving tuk-tuks.

Buy 'Ong Bak' on Apple TV


Proving once again that nobody does revenge like the South Koreans, the violent Netflix Original action film 'Ballerina' sees ex-bodyguard Okju (Jeon Jong-seo) set out to destroy the depraved scumbags responsible for her best friend's death. 

Like 'The Man from Nowhere' detailed above, 'Ballerina' will have you rooting for its heroine to dish out her own brand of violent justice to people who totally deserve it.

Stream 'Ballerina' on Netflix

'John Wick'

It's hard to overstate just how impactful 'John Wick' has been to Hollywood's action filmmakers (it's even name-checked in 'Monkey Man'). Since the first film's release 10 years ago, there have been countless imitators attempting to recreate the same lightning-in-a-bottle formula, namely a one-man (or woman) army killing an endless sea of armed thugs after being wronged. 

This one sees our titular hero (played by Keanu Reeves) take on the Russian mafia over the senseless killing of a puppy — which is honestly the kind of righteous quest we can get behind.

Stream 'John Wick' on Netflix

Stephen Lambrechts

Stephen Lambrechts is the Managing Editor of Tom's Guide AU and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming for the last 15 years. Before Tom's Guide, he spent several years as a Senior Journalist at TechRadar, had a brief stint as Editor in Chief at Official Xbox Magazine Australia, and has written for such publications as APC, TechLife Australia, T3, FilmInk, AskMen, Daily Telegraph and IGN. He's an expert when it comes to smartphones, TVs, gaming and streaming. In his spare time, he enjoys watching obscure horror movies on physical media, keeping an eye on the latest retro sneaker releases and listening to vinyl. Occasionally, he also indulges in other non-hipster stuff, like hiking.