Redbelt—Sony Pictures (Blu-ray)

Video: 4/5
Audio: 3.75/5
Extras: 3/5

Set on the westside of the Los Angeles fight world, a scene inhabited by bouncers, cage fighters, cops and special forces types, "Redbelt" is the story of Mike Terry, 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 struggle to keep the business running to make ends meet. An accident on a dark, rainy night, between an off duty officer and a distraught lawyer puts in motion a series of events that will change Terry's life dramatically introducing him to a world of promoters and movie star Chet Frank. 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’ve always been a fan of David Mamet’s films. Never the typical Hollywood fare, they always have diverse characters and don’t play down to the audience. This film’s advertising campaign dwelled a lot on the mixed martial arts aspect of the film, but that really is a small part of the film and more of the backdrop to this human story. Chiwetel Ejiofor continues to bring one great role after another to the screen and he does a stunning job as the instructor in this film. Those looking for great drama with a nice touch of suspense and action will definitely want to give this ensemble piece a look.

Sony has really been on a role with great HD presentations and this one is no exception. This wasn’t a big budget film so you don’t get the stylizing and glossy look that so many HD releases have lately, but fine object detail and great cinematic presence are there in spades. The image has a very film-like look with a touch of film grain and a very natural sense of dimension and detail. Colors are never oversaturated but definition in hues is dead on. Another exceptional transfer from Sony.

The Dolby Digital TrueHD mix is a subtle mix of score and dialogue. Dynamics are a bit limited but this film doesn’t have much aggression to it to enhance the mix. Surrounds do a great job with the atmosphere and sense of space and the few action scenes this film has sound very realistic. Dialogue is recorded perfectly with good presence and overall tone.

Extras include a feature commentary with Mamet along with a behind the scenes feature on the production. There is also a small feature on the world of MMA, an interview with David Mamet and another interview with Dana White. One of the little gems of this release is a look at Cyril Takayama, who did some of the sleight of hand tricks seen in the film.

It is disappointing that a film this good didn’t get a wide release. A great story, great ensemble cast and solid production deserve more. Sony has done a great job with this Blu-ray release and I highly recommend it for anyone who blinked and missed it in theaters.