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Redbelt

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: R (For Strong Language)

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tim Allen, Alice Braga, Randy Couture, Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, Emily Mortimer, David Paymer, Rebecca Pidgeon, Roridgo Santoro

Written and Directed by: David Mamet

 

Studio: Sony

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David Mamet and Actor Randy Couture, Behind-The-Scenes Of Redbelt, Inside Mixed Martial Arts, Q&A with Director David Mamet, An Interview with Dana White, Fighter Profiles, The Magic Of Cyril Takayama, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (28 Scenes)

Released: August 26th, 2008


 

 

"Redbelt" is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a pretty lovely transfer, highlighting the work of the brilliant cinematographer Robert Elswitt. Black levels are deep, detail is fantastic and fleshtones hit their marks. Color saturation is also very pure and deep, that fills out without smearing. There are a few little things that get in the way, though: very slight shimmering, edge enhancement and noise halos. Picture quality can be a bit soft at times, and a blemish or dirt piece also pop up sporadically. Still, this is a pretty refined and very pleasing transfer.


 

"Redbelt" is given an English Dolby Digital 5.1, one that captures the material well. This is Mamet after all, so there is a lot of talking - but all of the dialogue is very clear and easy to hear. It's also a bit of an action film though, and the fight sequences ooze through the channels with plenty of power: all the kicks and punches sound sharp. Surrounds are pretty discrete too at times, especially the finale in the arena with all the fans cheering and screaming in the background. Stephen Endelman's score also has a lot of juice through the speakers, as those beating drums provide plenty of deep bass. Fidelity is high on this track, subwoofer use is put to good use and dynamic range is pretty expansive. This is a well-executed and accomplished mix.

A French Dolby Surround track is also included, plus subtitles in French. English Closed Captions are available through your TV as well. 
 




An Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David Mamet and Actor Randy Couture starts things off. It's a pretty clever pairing; Mamet is the film expert and Couture is a bit new to the film world - so the latter talks about his experiences, and makes metaphors for filmmaking involving fighting. Mamet gives lots of anecdotes about the film's production, and also gives a few interesting tidbits concerning film history (like how title sequences were done in the old days, for one). Each offers plenty of praise for what's on the screen, with Mamet shooting off the contributions the actors and a lot of the crew brought to his movie. I really liked the laid back attitude to this track: a lot is discussed, and while there isn't much joking, the whole thing isn't overly serious - it has the feel of two friends just hanging out, and reflecting on something they were a part of. This really is a nice change of pace from a lot of other commentaries out there. If you enjoyed the movie, chances are good you will also enjoy this commentary.

The 19 minute Behind-The-Scenes Of Redbelt is a well-produced look at the movie. Producer Chrisann Verges and Mamet are the guiding voices in this piece, which focuses on the script's development and themes, production designer David Wasco and set decorator Sandy Wasco seeking to capture the film's "boxing noir"style, the work of costume designer Deba McGuire, and the cast - who praise Mamet and his work, and talk about their characters. There are also informative bits on Mamet's approach to directing actors and non-actors, plus the fight scenes and Mamet's style on the set. Very engrossing, and pretty amazing how much is captured in such a short amount of times.

Also running about 19 minutes is Inside Mixed Martial Arts. Mamet talks about his passion for Jiu-Jitsu, but the real focus is on the film's fighters and fight consultants - who talk about the evolution of the fighting arts, as well as crafting the fight scenes in the movie. Very intriguing, interesting and informative. Well done.

A 26 minute Q&A with David Mamet, from April 2008, is also included. Moderated by Film Comment's Kent Jones, Mamet talks about a wide range of topics: comparing Chiwetel Ejiofar to Henry Fonda, the concept of "goodness" in feature films, working with cinematographer Robert Elswitt, his inspiration for the movie, aspect ratios, filming action sequences, Mamet's writing process, casting, editing and more. An intelligent and insightful discussion.

A 17 minute Interview with UFC President Dana White is also included. White gives the history of UFC, as well as how UFC fights work. The whole piece is of the passionate White talking, and there's a lot of tales to tell. This piece is relevant  from a context point of view, given the world the film takes place in and how mixed martial arts have become quite popular in the past several years. Oh, and White talks a little about Randy Couture... who of course, is in the movie.

Fighter Profiles is 4 minutes worth of clips and tidbits of the fighters and fight choreographers the movie features, and The Magic Of Cyril Takayama is a 4 minutes and 35 seconds look at the magician in the movie. Ricky Jay chimes in (a nice touch), and Takayama talks about his character and even gives us a magic trick involving a cigarette. Well done.

And rounding it all out is the Theatrical Trailer
 

"Redbelt" is one of David Mamet's most interesting and polished projects to date, backed with a solid premise and an excellent cast. The DVD sports a strong presentation of the film, and there is a breadth of in-depth supplements that focuses on the movie's themes and production. The film itself, and DVD, are well worth exploring for Mamet fans, and those who like character-driven dramas with a little bit of a twist.