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Redbelt

A movie directed by David Mamet

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David Mamet does the samurai/cowboy thing -- and pulls it off stunningly

  • Aug 31, 2008
Rating:
+3
David Mamet pulls off another distinctive and compelling take on traditional genres with this compelling story of a modern day samurai.

Mike Terry runs a school/dojo for fighters, jiu-jitsu style. A key doctrine of his school is that there is no situation that cannot be mastered, that obstacles to escape are all in the mind. He aims at purity in his methods -- fighting is not about gaining rewards or fame. Of course, this means he is barely making ends meet with his business -- and his wife, accustomed to better, is frustrated. Things get worse when a young woman accidentally fires a weapon in his school, setting off a chain of events that leads to the death of one of his students. Things look as if they will get better when he meets an aging action star, but his associates end up taking advantage of the training system he teaches them.

It all points toward a confrontation at the end, a scene in which the lone samurai (or cowboy) will have to face impossible odds and come out triumphant and true to his principles -- even if that means he will lose everything else. While the ending may seem a bit implausible insofar as it is set in contemporary America, in front of television cameras and a massive audience, such endings always are implausible. They represent the triumph of a principle, and principles rarely triumph in real life -- but that's why it is so satisfying and revelatory to see in the context of a film, and that is why such films are so compelling.

I enjoyed Redbelt quite a bit -- the cinematography was vivid, the pace just right, the acting by all of the minor characters was right on, with a surprisingly good performance by Tim Allen, and the performance by Chiewetel Ejiofor was pitch perfect. Why he has not become a leading man and a household name is a mystery to me -- since he has such a commanding presence on screen, combined with a genuine ability to sink into his roles. A very fine film.

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More Redbelt reviews
review by . January 19, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
scene
Mixed Martial Arts have been in the spotlight ever since the emergence of UFC and some Hollywood films such as the Karate Kid clone "Never Back Down" (which I have also reviewed) have attempted to capitalize on its popularity. Writer/director David Mamet's "REDBELT" may well be the best U.S. filmmakers have come up with in regards to the world of Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts. The film is about honor and integrity, it cleverly blends the Japanese "code of the Samurai" …
review by . August 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A GREAT FILM WITH RANDY COUTURE
      REDBELT      I have been a fan of Martial Arts and a practitioner since I was born seeing that some of my uncles and such were black belts in Karate or Jiu-Jitsu [love it]. And of course I have been a fan of MMA since 1993 I believe it was when the Gracie's debuted the UFC. Now it seems that the art form and now worldwide popular sport that I have loved since I was born is reaching that mainstream status. I guess that is both a bad and a good thing …
review by . July 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A GREAT FILM WITH RANDY COUTURE
      REDBELT      I have been a fan of Martial Arts and a practitioner since I was born seeing that some of my uncles and such were black belts in Karate or Jiu-Jitsu [love it]. And of course I have been a fan of MMA since 1993 I believe it was when the Gracie's debuted the UFC. Now it seems that the art form and now worldwide popular sport that I have loved since I was born is reaching that mainstream status. I guess that is both a bad and a good thing …
review by . September 19, 2008
Redbelt was so so close to being one of the few films that earn the rarity of being called classic. The film is about Mike Terry who is a jiu jitsu self defense teacher. He is a very skilled teacher and owns his own dojo but the money just isn't rolling in. More problems follow as a nervous woman comes stumbling into his studio. The woman is so scared and nervous that she grabs a gun that belonged to Mike's student, and shoots the dojo window out. The student was a cop and was nice enough …
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #76
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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In the west-side of Los Angeles fight world, a world inhabited by bouncers, cagefighters, cops and special forces types, Mike Terry is a Jiu-Jitsu teacher who has avoided the prize fighting circuit, choosing instead to pursue an honorable life by operating a self-defense studio with a samurai’s code. Terry and his wife Sondra struggle to keep the business running to make ends meet. An accident on a dark, rainy night at the Academy between an off duty officer and a distraught lawyer puts in motion a series of events that will change Terry’s life dramatically introducing him to a world of promoters and movie star Chet Frank. Faced with this, in order to pay off his debts and regain his honor, Terry must step into the ring for the first time in his life.

Like David Mamet's previous films,Redbelt's narrative slowly exposes the well-guarded secrets of systems shrouded in mystique and conspiracy, this time at martial-arts academies and on Hollywood film and television sets. Reminiscent ofRocky,Redbeltis an unapologetically moralistic tale of an impoverished, inner city Jiu Jitsu instructor whose idealism is an affront to those who seek to sink him. Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), unknowingly affiliated with the wealthy Brazilian family who rigs televised MMA matches, naively rescues actor Chet Frank (Tim Allen) from being mutilated in a bar brawl, but isn't able to link Frank's sketchy relations until Terry's life is endangered. Fated to ...
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