98 Min | Drama – Sport | September 2008
IMDB Rating: 6.8
Director: David Mamet
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tim Allen, Emily Mortimer
Redbelt Review: David Mamet is back with his new film Redbelt. After four years away from Hollywood, producing the television show “The Unit,” Mamet has followed up his solid thriller Spartan with a drama of intelligence that only he can capture. Complete with the trademark, metered language—every word timed and delivered with precision—this tale may be billed as a mixed martial arts actioner, but it is so much more. The sport itself lends heavily to the plot for sure, but rather than with its moves and choreography, it is the underlying sense of honor that becomes the central focus. Beginning as a straight-forward drama of faith and morality, culminating into what appears to be this Jiu-Jitsu instructor’s big chance at success and wealth to keep his fledgling gym in business, Mamet’s story soon gets the rug pulled out from under it, fast and hard.
Redbelt is a film of respect and sacrifice, greed and deceit, Redbelt goes places you will not be ready for, yet it is handled deftly, causing all the machinations to fall into place and show their true worth in the progression of the story. It all happens for a reason, life sometimes deals you pain and leaves you in a choke hold about to lose air, but as Terry tells his students, there is always an escape. The rest of the cast—consisting of many Mamet regulars like wife Rebecca Pidgeon, David Paymer, and Ricky Jay in small roles—take the words and nail each reading.
Redbelt probably won’t make a lot of money but it’s a truly beautiful exploration of the potential for nobility in modern life. Whether they plan a sequel as the point has been made and it would take a truly extraordinary script to follow this little tour de force, but if there is one.