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Non-Review Review: Redbelt

You have to admit that the premise, at least, is intriguing. Maybe the execution is less so, but the basic premise (a martial arts movie directed by maestro wordsmith David Mamet) deserves at least a little consideration. In fairness, the movie plays its cards pretty well. It’s populated with kind of deceit and self-deceit which we have come to expect from the characters which Mamet presents to us on a regular basis. It’s a grim and dark and seedy world, even underneath those bright lights. The problem is that the movie’s core appeal (articulated in its title, premise and marketing) of a martial arts movie simply cannot deliver in that environment. These two facets of the movie lock themselves in mortal combat like two prize fighters in the ring: Mamet’s cynicism and human drama facing off against the requisite showiness and razzle-dazzle of martial arts. At one point a character suggests that the money is in a draw (since a rematch is a huge moneyspinner), and maybe that’s why we get no winner here. We don’t even get an entertaining struggle.

The blows come as quick as the dialogue and are almost as sharp...

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