Friday, August 29, 2008

Redbelt DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Disappointing Mamet Martial Arts Adventure Arrives on DVD

A mediocre movie like this is a major disappointment coming from David Mamet. The picture represents his first foray into the martial arts genre, although his character-driven script still boasts the basic trademarks for which the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s is known.

This means the screen is littered with an ensemble of street-savvy con artists delivering raw dialogue staccato-style, And among the actors are some familiar faces from the Mamet repertory company, including his wife Rebecca Pidgeon, Joe Mantegna, Ricky Jay and David Paymer.

The story revolves around Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the cash-strapped sensei of a jiu-jitsu dojo located in downtown Los Angeles. He’s a purist who has thusfar staunchly resisted any temptation to fight on the mixed martial arts circuit, preferring to rely instead on financial help from his Brazilian wife’s (Alice Braga) fabric business to keep his fledgling studio afloat.

A disturbing chain of events is triggered the day that a distraught attorney (Emily Mortimer) shows up at the academy unannounced. For Mike’s most promising student, an off-duty police officer named Joe (Max Martini), inadvertently invades the fidgety female’s personal space, not knowing that she’s a recovering rape victim. The paranoid woman reflexively grabs his gun lying on a counter and shoots out the place’s pricy plate glass window. Already behind in rent, now Mike has this added expense to deal with.

As his money woes mysteriously mount and he finds himself indebted to loan sharks the question is no longer if, but merely when, he will break his code of honor and enter the ring to raise some much-needed moolah. Like an unnecessarily confusing and convoluted cross of Rocky and The Karate Kid, Redbelt is a flick that’s a tad too smart for its own good, given the simple message it is designed to deliver.

Fair (1 star)

Rated R for profanity and violence and drug use.

Running time: 99 minutes

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

DVD Extras: Fighter profiles, Q&A with director David Mamet, commentary by Mamet and Randy Couture, plus several additional featurettes.

To see a trailer for Redbelt, visit:

No comments: