‘Monkey Man’ Understands The Importance Of A KFS (Kitchen Fight Sequence)

close up of dev patel in monkey man

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Dev Patel‘s Monkey Man has a lot going for it. 

Patel, who directs and stars, doesn’t say much, but he still manages to be very charismatic as Kid, who seeks revenge on a nasty cop with a great moustache. The movie isn’t afraid to get political, which adds a bit of depth. But the best thing about it is the Kitchen Fight Sequence.

You see, what Monkey Man appears to understand better than most action movies is that in order to be good, there must be a Kitchen Fight Sequence. Filmmakers going all the way back to the Lumiere brothers knew that if a film featured a KFS, it had a high chance of success. 

A good KFS is complicated. There are a lot of moving parts. A lot of pots and pans and forks and knives and what have you. Things you might find in a kitchen. And all of it must be used to create a cacophony of clanging violence that arouses your desire to eat and to see nasty people punched in the face. “I’d love a snack,” the audience thinks at the beginning of the KFS, but then it quickly pivots to, “Wait, what’s all this violence happening? Maybe I’ll have that snack later.” That’s the power of the Kitchen Fight Sequence.

Few films dare to attempt the KFS. For some filmmakers, there is just too much cutlery so much clanging and banging. So they give up. But not Dev Patel. Not Monkey Man.

Here’s a taste:

Now, I don’t remember ‘Mundian to Bach Ke’ by Panjabi MC (featuring Jay-Z) playing in the movie at all. And Kid definitely does not say “Let’s boogie” during the KFS. That would have been a mistake. A good KFS is wordless. A ballet. A song of ice and fire and pots and pans.

Did you notice how the food flies everywhere? The use of pots and pans? The best part, of course, is when Kid opens the microwave door into the bad man’s face. Perfect use of the kitchen environment.

This sequence is also notable because Patel is wearing a suit, which is ideal when fighting in a kitchen. Also, he did everything with a broken hand.

But how does it compare to other Kitchen Fight Sequences? Let’s find out.

The Raid 2 Is A Film I’ve Never Seen

These fellows are fighting and they’re in a kitchen. So we’re off to a good start. But they resort to a lot of ocular intimidation before actually engaging the environment. The first clang of metal doesn’t come until a minute and a half in, which could be seen by many KFS purists as unacceptable. Eventually, however, someone gets kicked through glass and a lot of expensive-looking wine is destroyed.

The fighting is incredible, but what The Raid 2 doesn’t seem to understand is that when there’s a fight in a kitchen, every other move should involve a pot or a pan, preferably both. Also, where are the chefs? There’s no one in this kitchen. And there’s way too much space to move around. A proper KFS requires limited manoeuvrability. Also, the blades do come out, but they’re fighting blades. Not dining utensils.

Kate Is Another Film I Haven’t Seen

I did watch its KFS though and it’s very competent. Excellent use of utensils. But it’s also employing the I’m Getting My Butt Kicked While My Partner Over There Learns How To Use A Gun trope, which I don’t much care for. I do like Mary Elizabeth Winstead a lot in Season 3 of Fargo, which may or may not be similar to this movie. I suppose we’ll never know for sure.

Ant-Man and the Wasp Is A Film I Have Seen But Don’t Remember

So imagine my delight when I discovered that it boasted a Kitchen Fight Sequence.

While small, the Wasp runs along a thrown knife and flips over a pot of water into a man’s face, which is fun. There’s no indication if the water is hot, though — a scalding sound, etc. — so it may have been merely an inconvenience to the man. Still. He appeared to be disoriented.

Tenet Is A Film I Have Seen But Don’t Remember Or Understand

The only part of Tenet I did understand was the Kitchen Fight Sequence, which starts with John David Washington’s fantastic line, “I ordered my hot sauce an hour ago.”

Director Christopher Nolan understands that a KFS must have a sense of humour. The KFS looks around and says, “Hey, we’re in a kitchen, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. Let’s bake a cake, boil a potato, braise some carrots.” Despite this understanding, Nolan reportedly refused to include a Kitchen Fight Sequence in Oppenheimer. “It simply doesn’t need it,” he’s said to have shouted while weeping. And, well, look how that turned out.

Tenet’s KFS is notable for Washington’s use of a cheese grater, which is extremely inventive. Fighting with a cheese grater says to the audience, “Hey, I’m just like you. I’ve just got this cheese grater. Similar to one you might find in your home. As a result, you can relate to me.” We sure can, John David Washington. We sure can.


Nick Bhasin is the Managing Editor of Junkee. His debut novel, I Look Forward to Hearing from You, published by Penguin Random House Australia, is out now. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter (he’s not calling it X).