What threatened to be David Mamet's most vainglorious misfire since perpetually casting his wife instead turned into samurai noir -an eloquently profane, profanely eloquent eulogy for the purity of martial arts discipline in the face of profit.
Not prime, grade-A Mamet, but this meaty martial-arts movie offers heavyweight performances and a deliciously juicy set-up. Things get scrappy in the last act, but you'll want to see how it all unravels.
Mamet's dialogue is crisp, invigorated by supporting players (particularly Mantegna and Jay) who relish his acerbic wordplay. But for a movie that aims to do for jujitsu what 'Rocky' did for boxing, 'Redbelt' taps out before the final bell.
Aside from the fact that it's never a good sign when a keen interest in a particular sport dominating a movie is a must, we've seen this tale of the virtuous gladiator encircled by ruthless, greedy wolves in countless such sports movies before.
So Redbelt poses as an action film but delivers what I would call an anti-action action picture. And by not delivering on expectations, Mamet satisfied me with something else, something much more clever.