Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 143


Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,995
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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.


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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News & Interviews for Redbelt

Critic Reviews for Redbelt

All Critics (143) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (97) | Rotten (46)

  • 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.

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

    Xan Brooks

    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.

    Sep 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.

    Sep 26, 2008 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…

    Ben Walters

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • David Mamet must have gotten roundhouse kicked in the head to think there was a story worth telling in his latest macho faceoff.

    May 15, 2008 | Rating: D | Full Review…
  • What is memorable is the film's portrait of a man of honor in a sleazy world, possibly a metaphor for the struggle of the artist to stay honorable in a world of backbiting, betrayal and hunger for easy money.

    May 9, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The glue that holds it together is Ejiofor's muscular performance as a man whose principles may be about to feel the brass knuckles of reality.

    May 9, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Redbelt

  • May 31, 2012
    Redbelt is a good martial arts movie but I was disappointed with the payoff scene and thought it would be something more deep but turned out the opposite. The movie Mamet made played safe and no risks. I really admired David Mamet's cast particularly Chiwetel Ejifor and Tim Allen in a good serious role. I watched the special features and many of the consultants who helped in making this film believed mix martial arts will be the greatest sport in the world. I am not a fan of UFC or any other mix martial arts league so I really don't believe so.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Aug 18, 2011
    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 W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 19, 2011
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2010
    I settled in to watch a normal Karate/Fight movie (ala Jet Li, Jason Statham or Steven Seagal) where the story is paced to take you on a carefully paced testosterone rollercoaster ride. This was it, but in its defense the choreography of the fight scenes is the best I've ever scene. It is more comparable to 2001 "The Heist" except it has a better pace. I am torn between 3 and 4 stars. (4 stars) for the plain good story telling, credible fight scenes and journeyman acting performances. (3-stars) for attempting to cross-pollinating a fight movie and drama and not succeeding at either. Back to the fight scenes. The majority of the supporting staff and extras are drawn from different areas of martial arts. Nobody flies on wires, has a relative killed by a bad guy or knows any special “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. The fight scenes shoot for balance and control over lighting fast motion and unbelievable power. Nuf said. Tim Allen role in the movie is so askew in the movie, like a private joke about somebody except the audience is not involved. And Emily Mortimer, normally a interesting supporting actor, seems ill prepared for the roll. A slightly better choice would have been Tracy Ullman with her fake teeth. I'll over look some of the ideas that may have looked like "a good duality", or "character evolving" or "juxtaposition" when they were shot, but should have been re-shot or left on the cutting room floor. And give it (4 stars). A more interesting film would have been Mamet pitching a conceptual martial arts movie to Hollywood cronies and having them all think he's lost it behind his back.
    Bill C Super Reviewer

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