Review of “Redbelt” (2008) R 99min
May 12th, 2008 by Maxim · 2 Comments · 4,214 Views
This is a mixed-martial arts movie written and directed by David Mamet, a man behind scripts for The Untouchables, Ronin and Hannibal. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor in main role, as well as Tim Allen, Mike Goldberg, Alice Braga and Ricky Jay.
The plot: In West-side Los Angeles mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) believes competitive nature of his sport a distraction if not a poison for a real fighter, while the world around him is all about televised cage fights and big money. Instead he lives and teaches by samurai code, even if his business doesn’t make any money. His studio stays afloat thanks to financial participation of his wife Sondra (Alice Braga) who has a fabrics factory in Brazil. An unfortunate accident causes a series of events that make him come back to the fighting ring.
The good: I went to see it with very low expectations. Surprisingly this turned out to be not a clone of “Rocky”, but a sophisticated thriller that will make you sit on the edge of your chair and cling to the armrests. In all aspects – suspense of the thriller and well-choreographed fight sequences – a nicely done flick. The story begins in a classical for the genre way of teacher and his students practicing in the studio, but in a few minutes it becomes a thriller when a deranged woman (Emily Mortimer – Lars and the Real Girl, Paris, je t’aime, The Pink Panther 1&2, Young Adam, Scream 2, Elizabeth and more) is walking into it late in the evening and fires a gun at one of the students, who is a police officer. From that point on it was suspense and thrill all the way to the… poorly executed ending. Several new characters are introduced who will change Mike’s life in a way he (and audience) could not have expected. Nobody turned out to be who they initially seemed to be. And the entire story hinged on Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance (American Gangster, Talk To Me, Children of Men, Inside Man, Serenity, Four Brothers, Love Actually, Dirty Pretty Things). This is not your f*ing Steven Segal!
Tim Allen’s is featured on the movie poster, but he is only an episodic character that is a completely new for Allen.
Excellent characters and acting.
Kudos to the stunt team.
The bad: The plot felt quite realistic and credible except the suicide and the ending. As mentioned above, the ending was a really bad way to finish this movie. I expected to see something like the ending in Pulp Fiction. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu professor from Japan was a cheesiest character ever since Yoda.
The summary: The promotional material is misleading. Suspense and drama are abundant in this picture, if you don’t mind the well-choreographed and not-excessive fights. First and foremost this is a solid drama then a street-fight or cage-fight action movie.
The cast: Mike Terry – Chiwetel Ejiofor | Sondra Terry – Alice Braga | Chet Frank – Tim Allen | George – Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini | Jean Jacques Machado as himself | Sammy – Bob Jennings | Marty Brown – Ricky Jay | Taketa Morisaki – Enson Inoue | Joao Moro – Dan Inosanto | Snowflake – Jose Pablo Cantillo
The crew: Director – David Mamet | Writer – David Mamet | Producer – Chrisann Verges | Original Music – Stephen Endelman | Cinematography – Robert Elswit | Film Editing – Barbara Tulliver | Sony Pictures.
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