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Fred Straps on His Redbelt

Published May 1, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Sony Pictures Classics
Redbelt Poster Redbelt
David Mamet is not the guy you think of as the go-to for action movies, though he's made some. Heist had some pretty cool stealth and Spartan had some surprise gunfire. So a fight movie like Redbelt isn't totally out of Mamet's wheelhouse, and he does it with the distinct Mamet style.

Review: Redbelt

Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) runs a jujitsu school. He hooks up with actor Chet Frank (Tim Allen) to advise his current film, but gets into financial trouble because of a bad deal Frank got him into. Despite the help of his lawyer student (Emily Mortimer), he ends up having to compete.

The fight philosophy is interesting in Mamet's rhythm. There's overlapping, interrupting and lots of repetition, but it makes it intriguing. It's weird how it makes you keep waiting as if there's new information coming, and no matter how many people repeat the same phrase, you're convinced it's coming.

They talk about the fight business too and that's interesting. This isn't a training/underdog movie. It's about running the school and advising a movie. Only when they exhaust all the intellectual means does he have to fight for money.

It may be predictable but at least you see it's trying. Even in the tournament, it's about ethics more than the fight brackets. The fights are a tad more elegant than the usual generic fight movie. It's like Mamet has the wordsmith's flair for telling a story with action, and using violence to motivate the characters and plot.

My only question is the red belt being higher than black. I dropped every martial arts class I tried within a few months (the cardio workout was good, but I couldn't stand all the focus/meditation. Same problem with yoga, I do it in front of the TV now.) Anyway, I remember there being red belts on the way to black, but never was anything higher than black. That's why they have additional degrees of black, right? Dammit, Mamet, do your research!
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Sony Pictures Classics

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