Watch Redbelt

"There's always a way out. You just have to find it."
  • R
  • 2008
  • 1 hr 39 min
  • 6.7  (21,465)
  • 69

Redbelt is a 2008 martial arts film directed by David Mamet that focuses on the Blended System of martial arts. Set in the city of Los Angeles, the film follows Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a former Jiu-Jitsu champion turned martial arts instructor who operates a small, struggling studio in the city. He balances the responsibilities of running a business while teaching students, until one day he gets caught up in a web of deceit and corruption.

Mike takes pride in his purity and adherence to the principles of martial arts, and he staunchly refuses to take part in any competitive matches or participate in the entertainment industry. However, his integrity is tested when he saves the life of actor Chet Frank (Tim Allen) in a bar scuffle which leads him to meet with the heads of the film industry. He learns that Chet represents a potential opportunity for him in the lucrative movie industry as a fight coordinator. His knowledge of the Blended System started to justify his new involvement in the world of competitive mixed martial arts, with an arsenal of techniques that go beyond what others were doing.

Meanwhile, Mike’s studio is facing its own set of financial issues. One of his students, an LAPD officer named Joe Collins (Max Martini), is deeply in debt and begs Mike to lend him the money to cover his bills. Mike agrees to help, but is soon entangled in a web of deceit as he discovers that Joe's past jobs involve a lucrative black market prize fighting ring that he has wired himself to throw, in order to save his family’s home. Mike is forced to confront the duality of life, the morality found in principles, and ultimately learn that his vastly superior knowledge must come second to morals.

Mike finds himself drawn into the world of high-stakes prizefighting, as he tries to do what’s right while grappling with his own inner demons. He eventually finds himself in the middle of a conflict between Jack Ross (Ricky Jay), a fight promoter eager to make a profit, Joe, and the con man-promoter Dickie (Joe Mantegna), who is trying to manipulate everyone involved for his own gain. Similarly, Mike’s fight against his own moral boundaries is mirrored in his own relationship with his wife, Sondra (Emily Mortimer), as he deals with his own insecurities.

Redbelt is a thrilling martial arts film that explores the complexity of life's moral conundrums. As the plot unfolds, Mike's martial arts training and virtues become a guiding force in dealing with the corruption and dishonesty he encounters. The film differs from traditional martial arts movies in that it puts much more emphasis on plot and character arcs than on action set pieces, which is typical to David Mamet's storytelling. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s understated yet electrifying performance provides the perfect balance of action and drama that viewers crave.

The film portrays the martial art system as being guided by more than physical prowess - principles, ethics, and a sense of purpose are shown to be equally essential. This underlines the key message of the film: that an adherence to a code of ethics is possible, even when laws and societal norms collapse. The film is heavily influenced by David Mamet’s background in martial arts, with the fight sequences reminiscent of actual martial arts bouts, and scenes that convey a genuine passion for the martial arts.

Redbelt is a must-see martial arts film that explores the duality of life and the idea that a person's martial art training may not always be pitted against others' physical traits. It is an ode to traditional martial arts training and a lesson in the value of upholding principles, even in the face of adversity.

Redbelt is a 2008 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 39 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7 and a MetaScore of 69.

Where to Watch Redbelt
Redbelt is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Redbelt for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 39 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (21,465)
  • Metascore