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Redbelt [Blu-ray]  [Region Free]
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Set on the westside of the Los Angeles fight world, a scene inhabited by bouncers, cagefighters, cops and special forces types REDBELT is the story of Mike Terry(Chiwetel Ejiofor), 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 with a samurai's code. Terry and his wife Sondra (Sonia Braga) struggle to keep the business running to make ends meet. An accident on a dark, rainy night, between an off duty officer (Max Martini) and a distraught laywer (Emily Mortimer) puts in motion a series of events that will change Terry's life dramatically introducing him to a world of promoters (Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna) and movie star Chet Frank (Tim Allen). 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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The film deals with the fundamental tenets of all true martial arts and compares them to the temptations of big business - here, movies, pro MMA fights and to an extent, fashion. Ejiofor's character is a warrior, but the story is about finding a way to prevail in seemingly impossible circumstances, the whole time struggling to maintain his integrity, and that of the art he has dedicated himself to. Not all of his fights are physical and this is where the film scores for me. While some other reviewers have criticised the story for lacking credibility, I felt that the story more than carried itself. All effects had a plausible cause and the snowballing problems could be real enough.
Additionally, those who have criticised the fights might be well versed in chop socky films (nothing wrong with that!), but Redbelt does a fine job of showing off Jiu Jitsu. Moreover, Ejiofor's fights are far more entertaining than anything I have seen from Steven Siegal - a bona fide Jiu Jitsu martial artist. Jiu Jitsu doesn't have the "wow!" factor of kung fu, but if you appreciate the skill of close quarters grappling, Redbelt has some excellent scenes.
While many Hong Kong Kung Fu films from the past tried to communicate the principles of martial arts, few survived the translation process. The stripped back approach Mamet has chosen for Redbelt, along with the West Coast setting, really help to put the principles into a setting that will be easier to understand for Western audiences. Although there were some highly predictable set pieces to the film, I would say that it represents it genre very well.
So, in effect, stop reading now!!!!
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mike Terry, a ju-jitsu instructor in a struggling martial arts practice, where a turn of events occurs that tumbles him into whole new situations, both good, bad and tragic.
Whatever the world throws at him, Mike tries to do the honourable thing, an ancient notion, sometimes at odds with the modern money chasing world.
I was very pleasantly surprised by Redbelt, the many twists and turns are rarely telegraphed as per much of the current hollywood fare, the soundtrack too doesn't give the game away with bombast and fanfare either, leaving the actual acting and story to do the storytelling on it's own for once.
Chiwetel, is ably supported thru this movie by Tim Allen, playing it straight, Emily Mortimer, Alice Braga, and a host of lesser known, but very able actors.
I won't give the game away, just see this film and enjoy the ride.
Honour is restored.
Absolutely amazing, a must buy. Especially at the price.
This film is so much deeper than Warrior and very few people know this film exists. Quite quickly into the film you realise that the main character is a man of great principle who genuinely cares about his art and students much more than money and that martial arts is so much more than beating people up like bruce lee. If you have ever trained properly in martial arts, you realise that people attain many different things from training and martial arts actually change people's entire lives and outlooks on life - very few films portray this side of the arts.
The fight scenes are all 'realistic' there are no 'triple jumping back front side spinning kicks' which knock out fifty guys in one go.
This is a genuinely complete film and if you like films like Warrior, this film will blow you away.
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