Hollywood makes first foray into MMA with 'Redbelt'

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Boxing films have long been a classic part of American movie history. With classics such as "Rocky" and "Raging Bull", the sport of boxing has long-standing ties with Hollywood.

Mixed martial arts is now starting to see producers and directors point their attention at the hugely popular sport for inspiration in film.

"Redbelt" is one of the first big budget films produced, that revolves around the sport of mixed martial arts. Written and directed by legendary filmmaker David Mamet, the film focuses around a Jiu-Jitsu instructor who is pulled into the fight world after a series of unfortunate circumstances.

The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, who recently co-starred alongside Academy Award winner Denzel Washington in the film "American Gangster", plays the lead role of Mike Terry, a martial arts instructor who has pursued an honorable life as a teacher, never using his skills for competitive gain.

Many familiar faces from the world of mixed martial arts also star in the film, led by current UFC heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, who says the film is rooted firmly in the traditions of MMA.

"It's very grounded in jiu-jitsu and you're not just going to go see a fight movie. It's not a fight movie," said Couture in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio. "There's a plot, in typical Mamet style there's a trail and deception and a lot of things happening in this movie. And for all intensive purposes it's kind of like of an American samurai story."

Mamet has been intrigued by the sport of mixed martial arts for some time, and the famed writer of classics such as "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "The Untouchables" has gone as far as to earn his purple belt in jiu-jitsu.

"It's more interesting because there are more possibilities," said Mamet about the sport of MMA. "And after you've watched mixed martial arts, especially if you understand something of any of the various techniques, watching boxing is generally like watching paint dry. Boxing's a standup game. The whole point of boxing is to render your guy unconscious, give him a concussion so he blacks out and falls to the canvas, and knock him out. So that's more or less the only thing that can happen, or the referee can step in and award the fight on points."

"But in mixed martial arts, a lot of things can happen. You can win on points, the opponent can pass out or he can do something which you don't find in boxing, which is he can tap out. Which is to say that a person can be put in a position whereby if his opponent applies a little bit more pressure, the victim is either gonna pass out or break something. And so the fellow who's getting beaten can simply say, "Tap, you win." And he can do that because he's being punched, because he's exhausted, because he's put in a choke hold, he's being chocked out or because something is about to break."

The film also features appearances from other figures in and around the sport of mixed martial arts such as Enson Inoue and John Machado.

"Redbelt" opened in New York and Los Angles on May 2 and will open nationwide to audiences on May 9.

For more information, check out the film's website.