The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 99 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish/Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles:English, Engis SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indonesian, Arabic, Dutch
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tim Allen, Alice Braga, Randy Couture, Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, Emily Mortimer, David Paymer
Written & Directed by: David Mamet
Music by: Stephen Endelman
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 26, 2008
"There's always a way out"
Set on the westside of the Los Angeles fight world, a scene inhabited by bouncers, cagefighters, cops and special forces types REDBELT is the story of Mike Terry(Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Jiu-jitsu master who has avoided the prize fighting circuit, choosing to instead pursue a life of honor and education by operating a self-defense studio with a samurai's code. Terry and his wife Sondra (Sonia Braga) struggle to keep the business running to make ends meet. An accident on a dark, rainy night, between an off duty officer (Max Martini) and a distraught laywer (Emily Mortimer) puts in motion a series of events that will change Terry's life dramatically introducing him to a world of promoters (Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna) and movie star Chet Frank (Tim Allen). In order to pay off his debts and regain his honor, Terry must step into the ring for the first time in his life.
I saw the trailer for Redbelt on the Blu-ray disc of The counterfeiters and was immediately interested in seeing it. It had a great looking cast and director and the story looked intriguing. One would think that this is a fight film and while it certainly contains those elements I think that it is more of personal story about responsibility, morals and virtue. Mike Terry (Ejiofor) is a righteous man and relies heavily on the virtues that he was taught through martial arts and from his teacher (the professor). He is a loyal person who is not afraid to stand up for what or who he believes in. He runs his school and tries to instill these values in his students. Little is said of his background other than a reference to being in the military. I believe that he worked in law enforcement at some point as well. The problem is that the world we live in is not that black and white. There are times when values are put to the test and decisions have to be made that require gray areas of thinking. This is the crux of the problem that arises for Mike in Redbelt. He has a close friend and student named Joe (Martini) who reveres him. He is a police officer and seems to be struggling financially as well as emotionally. One night after a workout, a distraught woman (who has some demons of her own) rushes into the dojo and announces that she has accidentally damaged Mike's vehicle. Mike tries to calm her and asks Joe to help her off with her coat. Meanwhile Joe was preparing to leave when she arrived and had just removed the safety lock from his off duty pistol and set it down. When Joe approaches her she flinches, pulls away and picks up his gun. It discharges and shatters the front window of the dojo. Joe decides not to pursue the matter and arrest her. Mike goes along with it but must now figure out how to get the window fixed. He is not the best business man and his wife who assists him in the running of the studio tells him that money is tight and the insurance will not cover the cost to replace the window. This incident sets off a series of events that leads Mike down the rabbit hole and eventually into the exploitative world and people that he has chosen to avoid.
This was a good film with interesting and likeable characters. The cast was made up of screen veterans, fresh faces and several athletes from various backgrounds. I don't want to give away too much about the story. I did find the ending to be abrupt and it left me with a few unanswered questions which can be a bit frustrating especially when you like the film. The screenplay was written by Director David Mamet who himself is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He seems passionate about the sport and this film. I would liked to have seen more details relative to the relationship between Joe and Mike which might have shed some light on the decisions made in the story by both men. Their friendship is the basis of several key events in the film but without the history it makes it difficult to comprehend the whys and wherefores. It was a good movie that could have been better in my opinion.
The rating is for language and violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Redbelt comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Classic Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio that has an average bitrate of 1.7 mbps.
The audio/video presentation delivered very good overall quality. Images exhibited clean lines, crisp detail and warm flesh tones. Sharpness was not as acute as the best I have seen on Blu-ray disc but it never looked soft or dull. Colors looked natural with ample saturation and vivid textures. Black levels were above average and shadow delineation revealed good visible structure in backgrounds during low light sequences and dark areas of the picture. Minor edge enhancement was visible but not intrusive. I Would describe the video as being in the middle of the pack and perfectly acceptable for the format. The audio presentation was essentially in the same boat as it wasn't exemplary but sounded just fine. Dialogue was well articulated with clear tonal distinction. Dynamic range seemed fine although it was never really tested by the film's elements. The tournament sequence later in the film contained some dynamic energy which sounded full bodied and robust. Surround activity was limited to a few discrete effects during the aforementioned tournament. Ambient surround sound was used effectively to bridge the space between the front and rear sound stages. This film relies more on dialogue and front sound field presence than it does on filling the room with sound effects and deep bass. I thought it achieved that end quite well.
The bonus features are very good overall. If you are a fan of the world of mixed martial arts then these will be quite interesting to you. There is enough detail provided on the film by Director David Mamet to satisfy those who are just interested in the film though. BD-Live is enabled on this disc as well and should be available by release day.
- Audio commentary with Director David Mamet and Randy Couture
- (HD) Behind the scenes of Redbelt - featurette
- (HD) Inside mixed martial arts - featurette
- Q&A with David Mamet
- (HD) An interview with UFC President Dana White
- (HD) Fighter profiles: A look at the professional fighters who had parts in the film
- (HD) The magic of Cyril Takayama
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
- BD Live
Redbelt is a film that comes directly from the mind and heart of David Mamet. He is clearly passionate about martial arts and wrote this film to send that message as well as to convey the importance of discipline, virtue and responsibility in its use. The story had a good head of steam going but just didn't bring it all together in the end which I found somewhat disappointing. It offers very good audio/video quality and a thoughtful set of bonus features. I would recommend it for fans. For those who are curious you might want to rent it first.
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