#1  
Old 05-03-2008, 11:45 PM
Redbelt

Redbelt - 5/10

David Mamet takes on MMA, which would, in this case, make it known as Mixed Mamet Attraction. Astonishingly inept in the screenplay department, yet featuring some of the best acting in a bad movie currently in theaters. Chiwetel Ejiofor is excellent as Mike Terry, a jiu-jitsu trainer whose serene dojo and modest income is impeded upon one night by a rainy, late night run-in with a high strung lawyer (Emily Mortimer), further complicated by a skirmish involving a movie star (Tim Allen), which leads to a convoluted inclusion in production of said movie star's latest film, a wartime piece, of which Mike can give multiple technical advice based on his own past experiences. That somehow Mike ends up involved in a MMA tourney promoting a fight between two old guards is probably the least complicated of this film's concerns. If you're already on the prowl for any red herrings or shifty characters, don't worry, Mamet has his standby troupe of actors (Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, Rebecca Pidgeon) to give an unhealthy aura of shadiness via stilted, staccato quips. Same as it ever was, you can't go home again...'cause you'll hear the same damn shit.

One of the problems of the film is that, because we've all seen this type of sleight of hand trick from Mamet before, as well as heard all the pomposity of his language (no one is in love with his dialogue more than he), thus a long standing character arc is introduced where Mike Terry is basically The Karate Kid, or the Karate Man, who Won't Back Down, and must ascend all the usual sport cliches to maintain his dignity and honor. See, he's an honorable man. Of course, he's not that way in the beginning, 'cause he harmlessly chides that a blackbelt is for "holding up your pants." Message! D'ya think ol' Mike will somehow learn to regret that statement? Even if the road to getting there is cliched, you can trust the filmmakers to subvert the notions of achievement through formulaic means. Thus, we get a film that wants to be a con game and a metaphor for the lone samurai battling uphill against corruption.

A decent little man vs. big, heartless corporation and its interests has been done before, but since Mamet has decided to explore it through the venue of this quickly rising sport (a point mentioned many times by grappler Randy Couture, playing a sports commentator), he makes it relevant to pop culture but still feels stiltingly aloof in comparison to his once awesome, now predictable language. Thus, the film fails as both a genre piece -- the fight scenes are deconstructed but incredibly dull -- and an examination of a small fish in a big pond.
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  #2  
Old 10-07-2008, 06:06 AM
Its nothing insanely new, but I definetly enjoyed this. Given I am a big MMA fan and too jiu-jitsu for a while so it may have went by easier on me, but I guess i'm plain and out just a sucker for these type of cliche' flicks.

And I was also pleasantly suprised with Tim Allen's performance in this. It wasn't a turning point in his dramatic acting realm but I thought he'd put out a lot more of a negative performance.

I'd throw it a 7/10.
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  #3  
Old 10-07-2008, 09:19 AM
I really enjoyed this movie. I thought the acting was great! Tim Allen should take on more
dramatic roles. I have been a fan of his since Home Improvement. Anyway, maybe the story is not the most original story out there (which, at this point, I do not know how original sports movies can get), but to me this movie worked. I thought Chiwetel Ejiofor gave one of the better performances of the year too. Maybe the fights didn't grapple you like a Rocky fight or anything, but this movie was not really about the fights, it was about the people. All in all, I thought this movie was very entertaining.

8/10
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  #4  
Old 10-08-2008, 03:56 PM
I agree with the Allen statement, he definetly showed some potential to take on better and bigger things.
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  #5  
Old 10-08-2008, 07:44 PM
No other ending this year left me as angry as the one to this film. There are a host of other things which I didn't like about the film but the ending I though was utterly ridiculous and contrived.

Also while I have enjoyed certain films by Mamet such as the underrated State And Main I really don't think hes as awesome as a director as critics make him out to be. I would much rather watch one of his stage plays.
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  #6  
Old 10-08-2008, 09:50 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinton View Post
No other ending this year left me as angry as the one to this film. There are a host of other things which I didn't like about the film but the ending I though was utterly ridiculous and contrived.

Also while I have enjoyed certain films by Mamet such as the underrated State And Main I really don't think hes as awesome as a director as critics make him out to be. I would much rather watch one of his stage plays.
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Just the fact that Mamet tries to get over that Mike Terry's brilliant idea that sets the stage for the second half of the film is one-armed and one-legged MMA is so damn stupid. Add that too the really out of place ending and you got one of the most disappointing films of the year. I think I got more out of Never Back Down because that at least entertained me and brought some unintentional laughter. The acting is really good though and makes the film seem better than it is, but the script sucked.
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