Posted August 21, 2008 in The Small Screen

Let’s just get this out there right off the bat: Redbelt is not a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) movie, despite Randy Couture’s “big” role, UFC broadcaster Mike Goldberg’s cameo and the interview with UFC President Dana White included on the DVD. In fact, Redbelt seems like about as horrible an advertisement for MMA as anybody could dream up. Inspired by writer-director David Mamet’s own Jiu-Jitsu training, the story follows Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Jiu-Jitsu master struggling to keep his studio afloat who becomes embroiled in a complicated affair involving a cop he trains, a messed-up attorney (Emily Mortimer), an aging action movie star (Tim Allen) and a kitchen sink of other characters, culminating in a fixed tournament. Why would anyone involved in trying to make MMA into an accepted sport want to be within a million miles of a movie that even brushes on fixing fights? It makes about as much sense as the rest of the convoluted, mish-mash of a story that comprises the bulk of Redbelt, which relegates anything interesting about practice of Jiu-Jitsu to the sidelines. Even on a second viewing, it’s a stretch to make sense out of the plot, and Mamet’s trademark conversational yap seems more like watching actors try to recover after having forgotten their lines. “There is no situation that you cannot turn to your advantage,” quotes Terry at one point in the movie . . . no situation except this one, which just seems like a missed opportunity. (Red Vaughn) 


Sony Pictures Classics, 99 minutes

Release date: August 26






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