“Mamet's Superb Writing Is Only Dwarfed By Chiwetel Ejiofor Amazing Performance, Fianlly MMA Has Been Given A Soul.”
“What A Rollercoaster Ride”
“Mamet's Redbelt Delivers A Round-house Kick To Your Cerebellum And Knocks You Out With It's Very Well Written And Acted Tribute To The World Of Mixed-Martial Arts.”
“An Intelligent Kung Fu Style Film.”
“This Is An Entertaining Movie With Interesting Characters.Yes, Some Things Just Don't Add Up, But Disregard Them And Just Enjoy The Film.”
That thing Mamet does he does again with feverish effing commitment in Redbelt, his effing Rocky.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
Redbelt, is a satisfying, unexpectedly involving B-movie that owes as much to old Hollywood as to Greek tragedy.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
Ejiofor remains a supremely assured, charismatic presence, though he has his work cut out here. He is pitted against a film with a black belt in pomposity and a gold medal in preening self-regard.
Xan Brooks - Guardian [UK]
Anchored by a powerful and nuanced performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mamet's latest writing and directing effort is a compelling drama about the world of martial arts fighting.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
What is memorable is the film's portrait of a man of honor in a sleazy world, possibly a metaphor for the struggle of the artist to stay honorable in a world of backbiting, betrayal and hunger for easy money.
Stephen Hunter - Washington Post
While Redbelt may be a character study in search of a movie, that character feels fresh and real.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
With his 10th feature -- an entertaining tale of high-stakes martial arts -- Mamet has infused the sleight of hand with a measure of two-fisted action.
J. Hoberman - Village Voice
This does seem to be a world Mamet knows well, and every so often we see flashes of the great movie he might have made.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
Mr. Ejiofor gives a commanding performance, perfectly calibrated in what's withheld just as much as what's revealed.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
So how's the Mamet Rocky? Fast. Lively. In your face. Very watchable. And, like its predecessors, so bizarrely convoluted it barely holds together on a narrative level.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
So gifted is Mamet as a writer and director that he can fascinate us even when he's pulling rabbits out of an empty hat.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Like everything Mamet touches, whether predominantly comic or dramatic, this stern cautionary tale concerns whom we can trust (ourselves, if we live by a few simple, honorable rules of conduct) and whom we cannot (others, especially if they're in the film
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
A sour little 70s-style David Mamet play about the lies, calculations, and ice-cold politics of Hollywood.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
Redbelt's ultimate Ultimate Fight moment feels sorely lacking.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
Redbelt ranks as one of Mamet's lesser efforts as writer and director.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Incompetently made and covered in corn, this is a martial arts movie that makes you yearn for The Karate Kid. Yes, that movie was corny, as well, but at least it was fun. Redbelt isn't fun, just laughable.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Before it sort of punches itself out in the final few minutes, it's a surprisingly compelling story about honor and betrayal.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
In the story of a purist-minded jiu-jitsu instructor trying to keep his distance from the vulgar commercialism of arena-style martial arts competition, David Mamet may have found the ideal metaphor for his own relationship with mainstream Hollywood.
Todd McCarthy - Variety
This isn't Mamet at his finest, though, which leaves us with a script that is merely three times as smart as the average feature.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
Ejiofor, a marvelously focused actor whose range and intensity are given a faintly inscrutable edge here, holds the center of the screen.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
The glue that holds it together is Ejiofor's muscular performance as a man whose principles may be about to feel the brass knuckles of reality.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
Teeters precariously between Mamet's typically noirish realm and the kick-ass commercial galaxy, looking not quite at home in either.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
It's neither uninteresting nor unentertaining, but the plot is as threadbare as an old carpet and Mamet's narrative contortions will leave many viewers scratching their heads.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
Mamet takes up jiu-jitsu with honorable results.
Michael Rechtshaffen - Hollywood Reporter
The final moment, which was probably intended to be poignant, instead feels laughable.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
It's still basically a boxing picture, not essentially different from dozens of other movies about life in and around what the old time sportswriters used to call 'the squared circle'. Mamet's circle is, alas, just a little too square.
Richard Schickel - TIME Magazine
Even allowing for a few slips in pacing and judgment, Mamet is on his game, and that is a sight to see. No con.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
[A] contemporary noir with a samurai movie interior, as sincere, plaintive and strangely optimistic a movie as he's made.
Carina Chocano - Los Angeles Times
Ben Kenigsberg - Time Out
It's always fun to watch the Mamet stock company springing a trap on an unwary victim.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
- Digital Spy
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.
Nick Rogers - Suite101.com
A Kickboxer installment that got too big for its breeches
Fernando F. Croce - CinePassion
Graham Fuller - Boston Phoenix
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Redbelt seems like a rush job that relies too much on the quick fix. I'm very willing to suspend my disbelief, but Redbelt becomes outlandish.
Tony Macklin - Fayetteville Free Weekly
Bob Mondello - NPR.org
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- National Post
- Irish Times
James Verniere - Boston Herald
This Mametian thriller is worth watching for a terrific performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor, but it's hard to engage with the story and it loses its way in the final act.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
The detail and clear devotion he has for the sport may actually have the effect of distancing the rest of audience from his film.
Pete Hammond - Hollywood.com
Exuding inner calm, Ejiofor is great. But he's badly let down by director David Mamet, whose contrived script goes to unbelievable lengths to weaken Mike's resolve.
- Sun Online
The plotting is contrived, the supporting characters two-dimensional, and the ending slides from predictable to absurd to maudlin.
Ben Walters - Time Out
Not vintage Mamet - the dialogue isn't up to quotable snuff - but it still packs a decent punch thanks to Ejiofor's solid performance.
Chris Hewitt (UK) - Empire Magazine
By no means a classic from David Mamet, Redbelt is authentic enough but fails to dazzle. The casting of Tim Allen is imaginative but too much of the film is underwhelming.
James Mottram - Film4
David Mamet sets him on the path to righteousness in a collection of contrivances masquerading as a meaningful plot.
Elliott Noble - Sky Movies
Emily Mortimer is impressive as a jittery, unlikable attorney whose impulsive actions trigger Mike's descent. But it's Ejiofor's film all the way.
David Gritten - Daily Telegraph
The discipline is remarkable. But this constipated drama, set in a blue-collar corner of Los Angeles, imparts none of the sweat-shop magic.
James Christopher - Times [UK]
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.
Tom Charity - Total Film
The Mamet rhythms are pleasingly in place: the repetition-rich dialogue, the head-butting close-ups as men go ego to ego.
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
Redbelt, his latest, is a curious one, a movie that hints at greatness only to retreat, unpardonably, into genre convention.
Anthony Quinn - Independent
Like his other films and plays, Redbelt takes place in the Mamet universe, which only sometimes resembles the world the rest of us live in.
Sarah Boslaugh - Playback:stl
Muscular filmmaking and a riveting central performance make this film worth seeing. Even if the plot itself becomes far too messy to really engage with us, the characters are edgy and enthralling.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
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.
Rossiter Drake - San Francisco Examiner
It's not the characteristically sharp Mamet dialogue that makes Ejiofor effective so much as what he does between the lines: Moments of powerful contemplation and silence.
Brian Holcomb - CinemaBlend.com
Although dedicated Mamet fans will recognize many of his usual familiar faces, Redbelt is anything but standard Mamet fare.
Heather Huntington - ReelzChannel.com
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.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
Buoyed by Chiwetel Ejiofor's terrific lead performance, this drama has more than enough smarts and philosophical underpinnings to compensate for familiarity in other regards.
Tim Grierson - Screen International
O filme conta com sua parcela de momentos inspirados, mas Mamet aposta demais em suas reviravoltas habituais sem se preocupar com a logica da trama ou com os personagens, investindo ainda num final terrivelmente maniqueista e artificial.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
The plot is intriguing enough to keep the audience guessing until the end.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
All of the tropes that make Redbelt comfortable and efficient also make it a little too familiar.
Robert Davis - Paste Magazine
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.
Beth Accomando - KPBS.org
Despite the serpentine plot, Ejiofor is so compelling at the center, you root for him to maintain his integrity as nearly everyone around him sells out for a quick buck.
Lori Hoffman - Atlantic City Weekly
From the very first scene I was completely enthralled by this complex character study.
Austin Kennedy - Sin Magazine
More Mamet than martial arts
Marty Mapes - Movie Habit
Ghost Dog without the jokes.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
What does it profit a man to be the last honorable person in a corrupt world? That's the question at the heart of David Mamet's Redbelt, a meditation on honor and loyalty set against the backdrop of the world of Mixed Martial Arts and Hollywood.
Charles Koplinski - Illinois Times
Writer-director David Mamet's wheel turns, spinning a dense texture of concise characters and deviously effective manipulation.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Con builds up on con in David Mamet's "Redbelt," a story about betrayal, greed, and the fight circuit.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
David Mamet must have gotten roundhouse kicked in the head to think there was a story worth telling in his latest macho faceoff.
Amy Nicholson - I.E. Weekly
The coincidental plot twists are implausible, as are some of the performances. Sometimes being enigmatic just insn't as interesting as it should be.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
Mamet dialogue is so cool that it makes even his silly movies worth watching.
Bob Grimm - Reno News and Review
A pretty good picture turned into something like a really good picture by virtue of Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
David Mamet combines his famous rat-a-tat dialogue rhythms with a story that he describes as 'American samurai'. This collaboration of Mamet, Chiwetel Ejiofor and the purity of martial arts join forces for a captivating and one-of-a-kind film experience.
Adam Fendelman - HollywoodChicago.com
A David Mamet film to its bones, and that means everything is stripped down as far as it can be, to the point of being casually and unremarkably flawless.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
It is not Mamet's style to tie up all the loose ends. You have to work at earning the enjoyment of his stories.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
Not top Mamet, but close enough.
Boo Allen - Denton Record Chronicle (TX)
An unnecessarily confusing and convoluted cross of Rocky and The Karate Kid that's a tad too smart for its own good, given the simple message it is trying to deliver.
Kam Williams - NewsBlaze
It's the great performance from Ejiofor that makes this an interesting take on the martial arts genre.
Danny Minton - Beaumont Journal
The combat, even the obligatory big fight, bruises bodies just as painfully as Mamet's killer words attack the soul.
Larry Ratliff - San Antonio Express-News
In the end, Redbelt prevails, just as Terry teaches his students to prevail, but getting there isn't always pretty.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
David Mamet's take on the trendy new world of mixed martial arts is a gem not quite like anything I've seen before a" a smart, absorbing, anti-Hollywood, hypermacho look at what it is to be a true martial artist and a man.
Mark Rahner - Seattle Times
Redbelt, David Mamet's characteristically sinister take on the mixed-martial arts craze, is like a noir, grownup version of The Karate Kid or of the recent featherweight teen MMA drama Never Back Down.
Jim Slotek - Jam! Movies
Mamet's love for the sport comes through in every frame.
Ruthe Stein - San Francisco Chronicle
A fascinating, beautifully acted study in philosophical tension.
Mike Russell - Oregonian
It was that kind of a dubious movie, where there is just no escape from its excesses despite its credo being there's always a way to escape.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ejiofor gives one of the most well-rounded and intriguing turns of the year and carries the entire film to the winner's circle.
Brian Tallerico - The Deadbolt
...a mash-up of Mamet's familiar stylized stories of victims and con men with a conventional sports underdog movie set in the relatively novel world of mixed martial arts fighting
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Among its other virtues, the film reminds us that Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of the most comfortable, consistently convincing and undervalued actors in movies today.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Watching Redbelt is like watching a chess game. As Mamet manipulates his characters, it's involving and occasionally thrilling, but it never makes you feel much.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
It may be predictable but at least you see it's trying.
Fred Topel - Can Magazine
In David Mamet's universe, the fight is always the issue.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
In Redbelt, David Mamet enters the realm of sports drama and Rocky-underdog clichA (C)s and discovers it's a surprisingly good fit.
Sara Wildberger - Miami Herald
Redbelt is screaming for the guidance of someone with enough distance from the subject to mold it into satisfying drama.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
"Redbelt" is a smart and stirring drama in which the intellectual conflicts turn out to be almost as exciting as the more visceral physical ones.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
If you try to piece the story together, the logic won't hold. But trademark Mamet magic happens: requisite razor sharp dialogue, a complicated turn of events, and terrific cast of characters whose performances pop.
Marcy Dermansky - About.com
Redbelt offers front-row tickets to the fixed cage match between currency and purity, and Mamet lets the audience feel every punch.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Reasonably worthy MMA successor to classic downbeat boxing movies like The Set-up, and tells the same kind of truth - you do what you're told, or you're met in the alley by thugs who smash your hand with a brick.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
[David] Mamet's latest movie, and one of his more accessible ones...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
...a sporadically uneven yet consistently engaging effort that'll undoubtedly please Mamet's devoted fans.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Just when you think (Mamet) can't plow more storylines into his situations, the slightly bloated script finds room for five or six more.
Bill Gibron - PopMatters
I sounds crazy when you say it - David Mamet writes and directs a martial arts drama - but it's a superb match of sensibility and genre.
Sean Axmaker - Seanax.com
By the end of its serpentine even-a-sports-flick-can-house-a-con plot, you may be too busy rolling your eyes to buy into the rabid-fan axiom that even minor Mamet is a treat.
Tricia Olszewski - Let's Not Listen
A low-key, compact genre film without much showing off.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Stripped-down and mean, it honors its character and his artistry.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
The only thing that truly gets bloodied is Mamet's resume.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
What holds this rickety contraption together is Ejiofor, who proves himself a genuine, grade-A movie star.
Ethan Alter - Giant Magazine
Okay, so it's only minor Mamet, but, for loyal devotees of the master, like me, it is still sublime. Rich in Mamet's signature staccato cadence, the dialog is pure poetry.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
[A] very strong film.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
A cornball martial arts movie in Mametspeak...like a Chuck Norris picture played with the solemnity of a Shakespearean tragedy.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
The movie starts out in muscular, typically Mametian fashion but can't sustain that punch due to his less-than-firm handling of the storyline.
John P. McCarthy - Boxoffice Magazine
...entertaining until the ending that lacks crediblity, which mars what came before but epitomizes a Mamet film.
Tony Medley - tonymedley.com
The journey has its charms, but the destination calls to mind Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?"
Brett Buckalew - FilmStew.com
Even minor Mamet can be a source of major satisfaction, especially with an actor as compelling as Ejiofor in the lead.
James Rocchi - Cinematical
The longer you trust... Mamet... the more you'll be crushed when the film, which is always teetering on the edge of preposterousness, finally tumbles over that edge.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Mamet toys with this existential dilemma but his heart -- or fist -- isn't in it.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
Cerebral as it often may get, Redbelt is the work of a true fan. It's brought out some of the best in him, and he's returned the favor to the genre.
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
The only person bruised by the end of the competition is the audience.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
A riveting drama where the ethics and rigorous idealism of a gifted Jiu-Jitsu teacher are challenged.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Compels as a story of the struggles and consequences of being a good, honest man in a world that rarely rewards either attribute.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
This scores high on the ass-kickery meter, and what could have been another generic fight film is elevated into a thinking-man's Rocky by writer-director David Mamet.
Chris Farnsworth - E! Online
The digression of the film's setup into an expedited version of The Spanish Prisoner would be less unnerving if what followed didn't turn out to be so irreversibly ridiculous.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
Ill-conceived morality play set in the world of mixed martial arts is clearly a labor of love for writer-director David Mamet. It's just a labor for the audience.
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
[T]he film's intricate plot begins to collapse the moment the lights come up and you begin thinking about the story.
Alonso Duralde - MSNBC
good, smart, manly entertainment.
Matt McKillop - Filmcritic.com
Redbelt strikes amazing notes of drama and character composition that could only come from the labyrinthine, puckered mind of Mamet.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Redbelt fails on nearly every level, from its incoherent story line to its threadbare action sequences.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
A superior, sophisticated, and unusually gentle character study where the point isn't the twists, so much as watching how one man's belief system holds up through them.
Tasha Robinson - AV Club
Inspired by his interest in mixed martial arts, Mamet's ode to the samurai spirit quickly bogs down in coincidence-driven plotting that's only partially offset by a colorful cast of supporting characters.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
The director knows this world and the actor makes us care about it. Redbelt requires little more to make good on its promises.
Rob Vaux - Flipside Movie Emporium
It may be just another Mamet experiment in the limits of dramaturgy, but "Redbelt" keeps the audience guessing.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
A Gandhi-like martial arts teacher gets hoodwinked by Hollywood.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
Twists and turns with the best of them, with a story line that comprises so many elements it's impossible to guess which direction it's going to head next.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
Solemn and high-handed even when its characters are beating each other to a pulp.
Daniel Eagan - Film Journal International
Mamet's self-seriousness stifles Redbelt's cinematic potential. It's so tightly structured it offers no surprises -- especially not the satisfaction of watching action-movie conventions reward a shared sense of morality.
Armond White - New York Press
David Mamet officially exceeds his quota of permissible b.s. for this decade with this preposterous new shell game.
Ben Kenigsberg - Time Out New York
An allegory of what's wrong with our country...Mamet has spent the last decade layering popular entertainments with subversive ideas about social politics.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
Doesn't add up to a perfect film, but Mamet's taste for character integrity keeps you cheering for the moral figure who leads us to redemption, despite the coincidences and the cliche'-avoidance maneuvers that get him there.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
David Mamet may not be the visual stylist that Jean-Pierre Melville was, but in most other respects, his Redbelt is faithfully cast in the tradition of the great French auteur's Le Samourai.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine
Mamet has a specific direction mapped out for his main character, but seems to have no idea of how to get there.
Joshua Tyler - CinemaBlend.com
Chiwetel Ejiofor's powerful performance as a jiu-jitsu instructor steeped in the virtues of honor anchors David Mamet's intriguing film
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve