Redbelt (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Redbelt (2008)



Critic Consensus: Mamet's mixed marital arts morality play weaves between action and intellect but doesn't always hit its target.

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Movie Info

"Redbelt" is the story of Mike Terry, a Jiu-jitsu master who has avoided the prize fighting circuit, choosing to instead pursue a life of honor and education by operating a self-defense studio in Los Angeles. Terry's life is dramatically changed however when he is conned by a cabal of movie stars and promoters. In order to pay off his debts and regain his honor Terry must step into the ring for the first time in his life.

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Chiwetel Ejiofor
as Mike Terry
Emily Mortimer
as Laura Black
Alice Braga
as Sondra Terry
Joe Mantegna
as Jerry Weiss
Rodrigo Santoro
as Bruno Silva
Ricky Jay
as Marty Brown
David Paymer
as Richard
Max Martini
as Joe Collins
Rebecca Pidgeon
as Zena Frank
Tim Allen
as Chet Frank
Randy Couture
as Dylan Flynn
John Machado
as Ricardo Silva
Dan Inosanto
as The Professor
Enson Inoue
as Taketa Morisaki
Matt Cable
as Academy Fighter
Cathy Cahlin Ryan
as Gini Collins
Luciana Souza
as Singer in Bar
Cyril Takayama
as The Magician
Scott Barry
as Billy the Bartender
Jack Wallace
as Bar Patron
Jake Johnson (XVI)
as Guayabera Shirt Man
Dennis Keefer
as Knife Fighter In Bar
Dominic Hoffman
as Detective
Michael Kenner
as Chauffeur
Mike Genovese
as Desk Sergeant
as Richard's Bodyguard
Jennifer Grey
as Lucy Weiss
Steve DeCastro
as Knife Fighter On Set
Ed O'Neill
as Hollywood Producer
Allison Karman
as Paralegal
Damon Herriman
as Official at Arena
Damon Harriman
as Official at Arena
Martin Desideriom
as Sanchez's Handler
Frank Trigg
as Sanchez's Cornerman
Gilbert Gomez
as Romero's Handler
Kei Hirayama
as Japanese Interviewer
J.J. Johnston
as Ring Announcer
Galen Tong
as Referee
Tony Mamet
as Fight Commissioner
Justin David Fair
as Non-Smoking Attendant
Christopher Kaldor
as Security Guard in Blazer
Chris Kaldor
as Official Security Guard in Blazer
Simon Rhee
as Bruno's Henchman
Troy M. Gilbert
as Bruno's Henchman
Troy M. Gilbert
as Bruno's Henchmen
Gene Lebell
as Old Stuntman
Danny Inosanto
as The Professor
Rona Lee Cohen
as Undercard Fighter
Mordechai Finley
as Undercard Fighters
Arvan Morgan
as Undercard Fighter
Peter Smith
as Undercard Fighter
Scott Voss
as Undercard Fighter
Chris Lisciandro
as Southside Jiu-Jitsu Academy Fighter
Tino Struckmann
as Southside Jiu-Jitsu Academy Fighter
Adam Treanor
as Southside Jiu-Jitsu Academy Fighter
Clay Woods
as Southside Jiu-Jitsu Academy Fighter
Masato Baba
as Taiko Drummer
Darren Endo
as Taiko Drummer
Kene Kubo
as Taiko Drummer
Jason Osajima
as Taiko Drummer
Byron Yamada
as Taiko Drummer
Bryan Yamami
as Taiko Drummer
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Critic Reviews for Redbelt

All Critics (144) | Top Critics (43)

Redbelt, his latest, is a curious one, a movie that hints at greatness only to retreat, unpardonably, into genre convention.

September 26, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

The Mamet rhythms are pleasingly in place: the repetition-rich dialogue, the head-butting close-ups as men go ego to ego.

September 26, 2008 | Full Review…

Emily Mortimer is impressive as a jittery, unlikable attorney whose impulsive actions trigger Mike's descent. But it's Ejiofor's film all the way.

September 26, 2008 | Full Review…

Ejiofor remains a supremely assured, charismatic presence, though he has his work cut out here. He is pitted against a film with a black belt in pomposity and a gold medal in preening self-regard.

September 26, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The discipline is remarkable. But this constipated drama, set in a blue-collar corner of Los Angeles, imparts none of the sweat-shop magic.

September 26, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

The plotting is contrived, the supporting characters two-dimensional, and the ending slides from predictable to absurd to maudlin.

September 26, 2008 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Redbelt


A superbly crafted and supremely entertaining film. A remarkable, well-written and brilliantly performed piece. Director, David Mamet's masterpiece, he truly knows how to make a truly engaging and riveting movie. Mamet's love for the sport shows in this piece and the respect that it should be given. An impressive, intelligent, stunning, powerful, and satisfying movie. It's beyond amazing. An absorbing, thrilling, gripping and sensational thinking-man's dramatic thriller. it hits you with the intense brass-knuckles of reality. An extraordinary cast. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an outstanding performance, he truly established himself as a star and leading man and is capable of almost any challenge. Emily Mortimer is fantastic. Tim Allen is excellent.

Al S
Al S

Super Reviewer

After the arguably awful "Spartan", writer/director David Mamet delivered this. It could be called a genre picture but if you know Mamet, you'll know he doesn't really follow conventions. Mixed-martial-arts instructor Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has money problems. He could earn $50,000 in a competition, but honour precludes him from fighting for money. Then a series of chance encounters leaves him no choice but to step into the ring. The film opens dramatically, introducing several of it's key characters in quick succession and manages to maintain this drama for a lenghty period. In fact, for almost the entire film. The acting is marvellous with Chiwetel Ejiofor's central, dynamic performance a real highlight. He's a fine actor, deserving of more major leading roles. As always, David Mamet's dialogue is sharp and natural, helping his characters come to life. At first, so many strands to the story are introduced, with no explanation, before eventually bringing them all cleverly together. Mamet is known for his writing skills and again they are on display here. Despite the undeniable power though, as it progresses, it starts to veer toward the formulaic side (which I suppose is difficult considering it's subject) and ties it's many strands up rather quickly, in a nice red bow (or quite literally 'belt'). It was far too neatly done and gave the feeling of being rushed, letting down an otherwise superb film. Although flawed, it's still absorbing and one of David Mamet's better films. It's not a major demerit but I found it to be a bit short, I was enjoying it so much that I could have done with an extra half an hour. Then again, maybe there is no higher compliment than this.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

A Mamet work that is not made in the rhythm of dialogue. It's a melodrama and when the movie does exposition, it's like a joke on melodramas, past and present ( -- it reminded me of the "Wally Beery wrestling picture" the studio boss wanted Barton Fink to write). But when the movie does silences and implications, disparate characters and their problems seem part of the same real world. Ejiofor is amazing and for all the power and magnetism he brings to the surface of the movie, as an avatar of honor and purity, the real pull of this story is in the undertow. This is, I think, a very sad movie. No matter what points the hero scores for authenticity and fidelity to principles, there is not enough time before the buzzer sounds. It's as if he and his old master cry that there is even such a thing as a redbelt, for their ideal will always be greater than the world they know and greater than they themselves, who are part of that world. When the hero repeats, "There is no situation that you could not escape from. There is no situation that you could not turn to your advantage," any adult knows that's not true. Not only is this credo anti-noir, it's anti-Greek tragedy. The credo becomes like a losing declaration of faith for the hero, and I know Mamet doesn't believe it. He may believe that listening to the wolves when *they* say there's no escape is to feed yourself to the wolves without a fight.

Adam Mahler
Adam Mahler

Super Reviewer

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