Redbelt is director David Mamet's latest offering and uses mixed martial arts as the basis to explore corruption and rigging within competitive sports. The premise of the film centres around main character Mike Terry, who runs a struggling Jiu Jitsu academy in southside LA, and his ever-frustrated wife who devotes much of her time to doing her husband's accounts, thus neglecting her own more lucrative fabric and dress-making business.
Terry is excessively noble and romantic about the integrity of his art and punctuates his classes with supposedly inspirational tenets about combat/one's opponent etc. Due to this respect for the art of his sport Terry refuses to compete professionally, as competition weakens the fighter, despite the fact that his talent would undoubtedly lead to him championing, thus winning much-needed money and being able to drag his beloved academy out of debt and pay his rent. However, a peculiar series of events, caused by involvement with mobsters and film stars, on the part of Terry and a few of his acquaintances, lead to manipulation by the police, leaving Terry no choice but to compete in a winner-takes-all bout with the prize being $50,000. Already disillusioned by the fact that the fight promoters, who happen to be Terry's estranged wife's mobster relatives, have stolen a gimmick from him to promote the fight (sold out by his wife no less); when Terry realises that the fight is also rigged, and the martial arts hero ‘The Professor' is present as a guest of honour Terry's integrity force him to make a tough decision.
Redbelt is populated with a reputable cast and crew but they fail to save the film. The screenplay is weak and the sentiments expressed throughout the film may resonate with teenage fans of martial arts, but other than that they come across as schmaltzy and disingenuous.