It might seem like David Mamet and martial arts would be a strange combination, but after watching Red Belt it seems like a perfect combination. Partially because you can sense that he wants to stretch. Who would have thought any character in a Mamet film, let alone the main one would actually be a rather quiet guy? It is a refreshing change of pace and offers an insight into at least one person who hasn't sold out. There is at least one group of people that still have some moral ethics. This code of ethics gets nearly everyone into trouble, but it is the simple refusal to take the easy way out that makes the film ultimately rewarding for the viewers as well as for many of the characters in the film. The fight scenes are shot with a gusto that is admirable, some fights even shown in longer wide shots to counteract the incomprehensible hand held fighting style that has been so prevalent in modern action films. Being a horrific failure as a filmmaker makes me all the more aware of someone doing things the right way, and I can't offer any complaints about Mamet's handling of this project. It looks good, the shots are great, the performances are fantastic pretty much across the board (the cop's wife didn't convince me), and the story although taking twists and turns I wasn't quite sure of eventually paid off.
I'd like to add more but it's late and I need my sleep. Feel free to add to this embarrassment of a review.