Jordan Peele stole ‘Monkey Man’ from Netflix — it’s now my most anticipated movie of the year

Dev Patel in 'Monkey Man'
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

On January 26, the first trailer for 'Monkey Man' dropped on YouTube and I couldn't stop watching.

In fact, I still can't stop. I've already watched it five times before writing this sentence. It's that good. And the more you dive into this movie, it gets even better.

"Monkey Man" is the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated actor Dev Patel. He's also writing, producing and starring in this movie that can only be described as "John Wick in Mumbai." In the movie, Patel plays an anonymous young man who survives by fighting in an underground fight club while wearing a gorilla mask. But one day, he finally infiltrates the city's sinister elite and begins a bloody quest for revenge.

Sounds incredible, right? Well, it gets even better. According to Deadline, the film was already making some waves in the industry, and Netflix had acquired the worldwide rights to bring the movie to its streaming service. But then Jordan Peele saw the movie at a screening and stole it from Netflix, bringing it to Universal under Peele's Monkeypaw brand so that the movie could be released in theaters instead.

Okay, so Peele probably bought the movie from Netflix rather than stole it, but I like my version of events better. At any rate, this movie is potentially so good that not only did the most successful streaming service buy its rights across the entire globe, but then acclaimed director Jordan Peele thought it was so good that he had to pay to ensure it would be seen in theaters. 

Between that and the trailer, if you're not officially hyped for this movie I can't help you. All I know is that "Monkey Man" is now my most anticipated movie of 2024. And I'll be first in line when it debuts in theaters on April 5.

'Monkey Man' trailer breakdown

Dev Patel in "Monkey Man"

(Image credit: Universal Pictures/YouTube)

I gave you a brief taste of what to expect in "Monkey Man" above, but let's dive into the incredible three-and-a-quarter-minute-long trailer in more detail.

The trailer starts with Dev Patel talking about Hanuman, a legendary white monkey who protected the people from the demon king. We then see Patel wearing a gorilla mask, showing that he's decided to take on this persona for himself, opting to protect the weak from the demons of the city.

It's also clear, the way Patel speaks of his mother in the narration, that his mother is no longer with us, likely killed by the city's rich. It's her (at the very least) that Patel's anonymous fighter will be avenging in his rampage through the city's underworld.

While this is a compelling premise enough, about a minute and a half into the trailer things take a turn towards "John Wick." At the 1:39 mark "Mundian To Bach Ke" by Panjabi MC feat. Jay-Z kicks in as the soundtrack to some fight sequences and stunts
that would make Keanu Reeves proud. And at the 2:14 mark, we get Patel doing his best John Wick impression, decked out in a black suit fighting henchmen before the word "Revenge" flashes on the screen in bright red. 

Finally, at 2:46 we get "Blessings from my mother" subtitled in that same bright red, reminiscent of the iconic subtitles that grace the screen on occasion in the John Wick franchise.

That's not to say this movie is wholly derivative of Reeves' action series. "Monkey Man" hints at a similar level of world-building as the Wick franchise but a very different world. And unlike Wick, a cold-blooded assassin unexpectedly drawn into a quest for revenge, Patel's Kid is filled with a rage that finally boils over to send him on an epic rampage.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.