Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Emily Mortimer, Alice Braga, Tim Allen, Rodrigo Santoro, Max Martini, Joe Mantegna, David Paymer, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay
Written by: David Mamet
Directed by: David Mamet
MPAA Rating: R for strong language
Running Time: 99
Date: 04/07/2008

Redbelt (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Kung Fool

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For his tenth feature film as director, David Mamet delivers a low-key, compact genre film without much showing off. It's passable, but not particularly memorable. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a typically great performance as Mike Terry, a Jiu-Jitsu instructor who can't seem to escape trouble. His prize student, a cop (Max Martini), gets into hot water when a hysterical woman (Emily Mortimer) grabs his gun, fires it and breaks the school's window. Meanwhile, Terry breaks up a bar fight, saves a movie star (Tim Allen) and winds up with a job on a new movie. But everything falls apart and Mike is forced to enter the ring once again to land the much-needed prize money. Mamet moves through his twists and turns with confidence, even if a few of them don't hold water. Some of the supporting players (Joe Mantegna, Ricky Jay, David Paymer, etc.) add a great deal of flavor, but Mamet seems bored by the fight scenes; he rushes through them with too much jerking and lurching. The red-hot Alice Braga co-stars as Mike's firecracker Brazilian wife (some of the movie's dialogue is in Portuguese). (Viewed at the 51st San Francisco International Film Festival.)

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