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REDBELT

About The Production
Never one to fear the road less traveled, writer / director David Mamet has once again strayed from the pack to create the film Redbelt, a project which he makes great pains to point out is "not a martial arts movie.”

Instead, Redbelt takes a look at timeless themes such as honor and respect through the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts – two subjects which have never been featured in a major film before.

But this is not a case of cashing in on the latest craze in the sports world; Mamet's love and respect of jiu-jitsu goes back five years, when the former high school wrestler, boxer, and kung fu practitioner began studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Los Angeles with Renato Magno, a Black Belt and the fight choreographer on Redbelt. So what is the essence of this martial art, which originated in Japan and which was perfected in Brazil?

"Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art just as boxing is a martial art and savate is a martial art,” said Mamet. "The main principal of Jiu-Jitsu is that understanding will defeat strength. And although it's philosophical, it's really extraordinarily practical. Don't use more force than you need to; knowledge will conquer force. If you take two forces that oppose each other, one of them is wasting force, so eventually one of them is going to run out of steam. If you've got a stronger guy and a weaker guy and the weaker guy can exhaust the stronger guy, the guy runs out of steam, the weaker guy can now bring his skills to bear. It's like (John) Machado was saying to me, "Jiu-Jitsu doesn't make you punch proof. What it does is it gives you the opportunity potentially at the last moment to turn the fight around.”

Currently a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu, Mamet was immediately taken in by the techniques and philosophies of the art, and when he is on the mat, nothing else matters for him.

"He's terrifying,” said Chiwetel Ejiofor, the star of Redbelt. "He gets a look in his eye like he's not messing around and then he just goes for it. I saw him throw down, and he's strong and really skilled at it.”

And even more than learning the nuts and bolts, Mamet was fascinated by the culture and people around Jiu-Jitsu, inspiring him to document what he had seen and learned.

"I decided fairly early in my experience with Jiu-Jitsu that the world was fascinating because it was cut across many different strata of society,” he said. "The guys you train with, some of them would be cops, some of them would be bouncers, some of them would be Navy SEALs or SWAT guys. Some of them would be stuntmen and some of us would just be regular guys who wanted to learn how to defend ourselves. I was inspired because I wanted to write a story about these guys, I wanted to write a story about these fighters, but it took me a while to figure out exactly what that story was.”

Eventually, Mamet began writing, and as fate would have it, the story ended up close to home in Hollywood, with the center of the action always coming back to the Jiu-Jitsu Academy owned by main character Mike Terry (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor).

"There's a lot of cross-pollenization in Hollywood between the martial arts and the movie business. The movie business has films that involve fighting in them and there are stunt people doing the stunts, almost all of whom study mixed martial arts for various reasons.

Also, because there are movie stars, they need people to protect them, so they have bouncers and security agents and all of that stuff. And so Redbelt is the story about these different people meeting through the academy. So it wasn't so much that I decided to set it in Hollywood, but that I was looking at the culture of martial arts in Hollywood and writing about it.”

While writing, two distinct influences colored Mamet's work, and they were far from typical.

"One is the samurai film, about the h

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