Review written on: May 19th, 2008

Redbelt Review

After I watched the trailer for the first time, I was thinking this was going to be a dream for martial arts fans, with as much physical combat and spectacular aerial stunts as one would want. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may be the focal point, but if you?re looking for a full-throttle, beat-your-ass action movie, you may be disappointed. Obviously, if you have any familiarity with David Mamet?s work, there is far more concentration on the complex and emotional than on hard-core action.

Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor)is the instructor at a Los Angeles Jiu-Jitsu academy where he is conducting an advanced class featuring a police officer (Max Martini) attempting to further his training and someday earn a black belt. As many of us know, the underlying text of all forms of martial arts is respect and dedication to yourself, the craft, and your peers, and not to pummel someone simply to get a cheap thrill. Terry goes a little into that in a special speech about possibly fighting with a personal handicap. Then he proceeds to tie down one of the good officer?s arms, telling a tale of an ancient practice in which different colored marbles were drawn and one opponent was to fight at a disadvantage.

Terry is married to Sondra (Alice Braga), a Brazilian fabrics designer, and they are struggling to pay the bills. What else is new? The lack of revenue, combined with the actions of a strung-out lawyer (Emily Mortimer) and a broken window create a chain reaction of mishaps which makes it all the worse. Actually, it?s practically impossible to get out of any of it without a little assistance. Sondra?s family may be able to provide that. As her family is involved with mixed martial arts competitions, as well some under-the table betting, Mike goes down to his brother-in-law?s club for a loan.

Tim Allen maneuvers into the foray as popular actor Chet Frank. He?s at the club sans entourage and gets into a bar brawl. Mike saves the day with the application of his training. Chet decides to repay the favor and, eventually, Mike and Sondra get caught up in the hoopla that is Hollywood. Thinking that they have finally reached a point that will allow their businesses to flourish without being taken advantage of or exploited, they quickly learn that they have been taken. Only, what will not surprise you is that after all is said and done, how much money and power influence our everyday lives. There is no escape from that.

The film as a whole, and particularly, the last 20 minutes, isn?t exactly knuckle-whitening, but is very poignant, and shows no signs of the clich? that is often associated with films of this nature. Be prepared to really give your mind an ethical workout. Mamet certainly touches on many different subjects from greed to loyalty, spirituality to discipline. This is one film where you will keep your eyes locked on the action and your mind open. Give it a view!


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