Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor follows his turn in AMERICAN GANGSTER by taking the lead role in this thoughtful fight movie from writer/director David Mamet. Ejiofor plays Mike Terry, a man who runs his own Jiu-jitsu studio in Los Angeles. Terry's business is failing, causing tension between him and his wife, Sondra (Alice Braga). But their lives change drastically when Terry is compelled to come to the aid of an actor, Chet Frank (Tim Allen), during a bar fight. Frank befriends Terry and invites him to come and work as a consultant on a movie he is shooting. Just as Terry's fortunes seem to be changing, he finds himself caught up in a deceitful plan that has been carefully hatched by Frank's devious agent (who is played by Mamet regular Joe Mantegna). With his debts piling up, Terry decides to go against all his instincts and enter the competitive fighting world, where he stands to win a huge cash prize. But the good-natured fighter is in for a shock when he gets a close-up glimpse of the corruption that runs rife throughout the sport.
REDBELT is full of the usual plot twists and fine performances that mark any Mamet movie. It's fascinating to watch the director draw on his longstanding passion for Jiu-jitsu to fill out the storyline, and Ejiofor does a convincing job as a man who draws on the discipline of the sport to stay calm during some testing times. As with many Mamet films, a series of cons are liberally sprinkled throughout the script, calling on viewers to remain alert as each strand of the storyline slowly unravels. The bulk of the movie is conversational, shying away from the action sequences that mark most fight movies, and making REDBELT an unusual and invaluable addition to the genre.