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</script></div>{/googleAds}David Mamet has a solid reputation for crafting intelligently complex stories, penning such classics as ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice' and â"The Untouchables'. He even got an Academy Award nomination for his debut script ‘The Verdict'. His latest film, in which he directs as well as writes, is undeniably crafted from the same impressive synapses but for the first time it seems to undermine the story, and make one come out feeling like it was a pointless exercise.

Telling the story of Mike Terry, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, ‘Redbelt' follows the man as he is lured from his financially precarious life into the life of the rich and morally dubious. Through a ridiculously and unnecessarily complex web of connections, Terry is duped into giving up his martial art ethos for a new gambling system in a mixed-martial arts competition, and left with no choice but to fight in said competition to save himself and his wife from financial ruin.

RedbeltThe characters, for all the (as usual) impressive dialogue, seem a little one-note-wonder. So complex is the plot, each character serves a singular function within the story, and comes away flat for all the effort. Terry spouts Zen-Master ideology to the point of cliché; the slick movie star (played by Tim Allen) is the sleaze ball he appears to be; the wife's twist is not so surprising, given her set up; the lawyer, the cop, the agent, the brother in law all are there to serve the overcomplicated plot, not to be fully fleshed out people.

Taking away the four million twists and turns, this story has a very obvious and well-mined through line: reluctant fighter ends up fighting for the good of many. Mamet is obviously a practitioner of the martial art he explores, as there are copious and lengthy moments dedicated to the style's ethos and training which, frankly, come off as near-sighted and self indulgent there were far more expedient ways to get the point across and get the story moving.

But the glaring disappointment of this film is the denouement, which is completely implausible. Forgetting the fact that these powerful people would not need to go to such elaborate lengths to dupe Terry into revealing his Martial Arts secrets, his inevitable fight contradicts his edict throughout the whole movie.

The peace-loving fighter suddenly gets into a showy fisticuff where he knows cameras are broadcasting, and we're supposed to buy it's noble because he's not stepped into the ring? Balderdash. Added to which, a venue with millions of dollars at stake and more security than Jay Leno has cars is not about to allow a fight in the stands to go down especially when it will draw attention to the nefarious rich and powerful behind the scam. For the meticulous set up played on our hero, the bad guys sure get moronic and lazy at the end.

The performances are great, but the logic of these characters is difficult to buy, and Terry's Zen spoutings got on this reviewer's nerves after a while. Mamet's direction doesn't win any votes from me either this time round. Besides the arena at the end, there is no scale or sense of the world expressed. It looks very TV-Movie with it's aesthetic, and bores with it's staging.

There is no denying Mamet is a master storyteller, but his attempt at a samurai-like story seems more about his proclivities than what works for this type of story. The union of his usual cadre of skills and his obvious love of this type of tale does not a happy marriage make.

Component Grades
2 stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
2.5 stars


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: Arabic, Mandarin, Dutch, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish

Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; Language and Sound:; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; behind-the-scenes featurette; fighter profiles.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with writer/director David Mamet and actor/ex-MMA fighter Randy Couture as they discuss the genesis of the filmproject, its themes and the world of MMA
* Featurettes
o Behind-the-scenes of Redbelt (19:07)
o Inside MMA (18:51)
o Q&A with Mamet (26:18)
o Interview with UFC president Dana White (16:52)
o Fighter Profile (04:10)
o The Magic of Cyril Takayama (04:34)
* Previews - for Married Life, Standard Operating Procedure, The Wackness, Baghead, The Children of Huang Shi, When Did You Last See Your Father?, Brick Lane, The Counterfeiters, The Band's Visit, CJ7, Persepolis, The Art of War II: Betrayal and Felon

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging