As SXSW continues to morph from a music-first festival into a more holistic art and tech conference over the years, one arena it’s grown the most is their film festival offering. More specifically, the inclusion of larger, fan-friendly features that bring out large crowds and long lines.

One of the highlights of this year’s SXSW Film & TV Festival was undoubtedly the world premiere of Dev Patel’s Monkey Man. Patel produces, directs, and stars in Monkey Man, a film based on his own original story that is truly a great example of a filmmaker having a vision and doing everything it takes to bring it to life.

Speaking at a panel at SXSW 2024, Patel shared a ton of awesome insights into his filmmaking process, as well as how he was able to bring his tour-de-force directorial debut to life. He was also kind enough to offer some thoughts on the future of action cinema moving forward as well.

Dev Patel Talks Monkey Man

Inspired by the legend of Hanuman, an icon that embodies strength and courage, Monkey Man follows “Kid”, an anonymous young man who ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club. Oh, and he wears a cool looking gorilla mask as he is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash.

After years rage, Patel’s Kid discovers a way to infiltrate the enclave of the city’s sinister elite. As his childhood trauma boils over, his mysteriously scarred hands unleash an explosive campaign of retribution to settle the score with the men who took everything from him.

Here’s Patel talking about the film at SXSW:

The Future of Action Cinema

Similar perhaps to other action cinema staples like John Wick or Tony Jaa’s The Protector, Patel truly brings a fresh take on the now-budding action genre with a film that’s built on both perseverance and heart. The film also continues a trend of action cinema debuting at SXSW in particular, coming on the heels of John Wick: Chapter 4 making its world premiere at the festival the year prior.

It’s interesting to hear Patel talk about Monkey Man and his work bringing the project to life. It takes a lot of guts, so to speak, to write, produce, and direct yourself in any project, much less in one where you’ll need to perform a lot of physical stunts and learn a huge amount of fight choreography.

Still, Patel’s passion for both action and filmmaking rings true and is a great reminder of the “just go out and do it” mentality that is required to launch a career in this breakneck industry.