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A movie directed by David Mamet

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  • Jul 30, 2010


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 depending on how you look at it. On one hand Mixed Martial Arts is one of the most pure things one the planet in fact Martial Arts as a whole will most likely always be that way. And the more people get into it the more recognized the art forms will be and will get more respect. But things do change for the worst when the mainstream gets a hold of it especially here in the states, as this film points out in some cases.

Now this is not a perfect film and a lot things happen in it that will probably leave you thinking now that would not really happen, keep in mind though none of these things are out of the realm possibility. Now for the past year or two films have been coming out trying to capitalize off of the popularity of MMA. Sure there have always been Martial Arts movies and there always will be, but the sport of MMA is really just now becoming really known and accepted by the [hate to say it again] mainstream. As far as these new crop of films are concerned this may be the best of them thus far, at least the writer/director is a practitioner as well. In fact saying that this is an MMA movie would be unfair because this more about the characters than the sport and fighting. And of course "The Natural" Randy Couture is in this film, that is right "Captain America" himself.

The movie centers around Mike Terry a well respected Jiu-Jitsu instructor who lives his life by a code of honor, respect , and discipline. Of course these are all worthy and admirable traits but unfortunately those beliefs don't bring home the bacon, and it is stressing his wife out. Sadly it is his sense of integrity that would eventually lead him into the worst position of his life, but perhaps that is also what saves him. His story is a tragic one to say the least as not only his life but those around him are effected by his beliefs and teachings. His student on the rise and close friend Joe Collins is a police officer who is so taken by the samurai like way that Mike lives it sends him on a path of destruction when he becomes overly frustrated with himself. Others like a lawyer that he happens to meet one night after she shoots the glass window out of his academy and a hotshot Hollywood actor named Chet Frank and others are effected by this man as well.

After a good day of rolling a woman named Laura enters his academy and mistakenly shoots of officer Collins's gun shattering the font glass window. From here Mike meets an actor one night and helps break up a fight that the actor was sure to loose, the friendship starts. From Mike is brought into a world of make believe fighting as Chet is filming a war movie and wants Mike involved or so he says. At the same time Chet's wife s making nice with Mike's and offers to help her financially with her business. Everything seems nice at first but things get a little fishy when phone calls are not returned and ideas are stolen. One of which promoters of an MMA event have taken and are also forcing Mike into the competition, of course this goes against every thing he stands for.

Cheitel Ejiofor performs really well in this as Mike Terry and makes the character highly believable in my opinion, and the same can be said for his wife played by Alice Braga. Max Martini is excellent as his student trying to get ahead and grab that black belt, and Randy Couture is good as an announcer for the event. Matter of fact every one is great in this including a few more recognizable Mixed Martial Artists [see who there are for your self, ok I will give you two - Enson Inoue, and Frank Trigg] but I most say that it is Tim Allen who surprises me the most as actor Chet Frank. I was a little surprised when this was released that he was appearing in this but I must say he played the role very well.

Like I said earlier this film is less about Mixed Martial Arts as it is about the characters in it and more so about what Martial Arts originally represented, honor, respect, discipline, and integrity. Writer/director David Mamet who studies Martial Arts in real life certainly brought that to the screen although the film lags at times it is still an impressive piece of work. The pace moves along nicely and the characters are interesting and really that is all you need from this film. Also I think the final show down at the end is not only realistic as far as moves and such but as far as this story a fitting ending, sure in real life or should I say in most cases it would have been broke up. But you must think of the context of this story and how crooked the promoters were in this, an impromptu fight behind the scenes is good for ratings. Some may argue that this did not have enough fighting in it or that the fight at the end was not spectacular enough, but let me tell you what them guys were doing is no joke.

The ending is a hit or miss for the most part depending on how much you like the movie, that will most likely determine if the ending is credible and believable enough for you. For me it fits the storyline perfectly but in the real world it would depend on the crowd. Depending on were this would take place the crowd may or may not have reacted like that during and after the final showdown. Still this is a really good character driven film that just so happens to deal with MMA, it is more so about Martial Arts and what it represents then the growing in popularity sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

There is an excellent commentary to this with the director and the great Randy Couture as well as some excellent special features like behind the scenes, some things on MMA, an interview with UFC president Dana White. This disc is worth buying.

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September 04, 2010
You DO have 2 versions of this review!
September 05, 2010
Not sure how this happened to be honest
September 05, 2010
Weird things happen over here all the time.
July 30, 2010
wow. Pretty awesome breakdown. I really liked this movie myself, (dunno if you read my review)and I can tell that you really enjoyed it too. Sonia Braga rocks.
July 30, 2010
Yeah man I liked this flick, and yes I did indeed read your review, it as always is excellent.
More Redbelt reviews
review by . January 19, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
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
      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 . August 31, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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

Ranked #7
I basically am just a normal person obbsessed with Mixed Martial Arts, pro wrestling, movies of all kinds, music of all kinds, books of all kinds, and of course foods of all kinds. Just trying to keep … more
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About this movie


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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