Red BeltThis is a movie that anyone studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu should watch!

It centers around Mike Terry (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) – A Jiu Jitsu instructor who lives by a moral code of honor when the vile money driven greed of the real word starts to jump on top of him.

It all starts when he’s training a friend and police officer at his club.  A young woman comes in looking for some assistance and panics, picking up a gun just sat down by the police men and shooting out the club window.

This woman has a few issues after being raped at knife point, so a Policeman training there decides to cover for her by telling the police department something blew into the window – instead of telling the truth which would land her in prison for attempted murder of a police officer.

From there things get complicated and money is tight for Mike Terry, but he meets a local celebrity and there’s a chance that things could turn around.  But one by one events take place that leave Mike in a nasty position with everyone against him.  Instead of giving up his code and the martial arts way (becoming something of a sellout) he steps up and takes action, fighting back against all of those against him in one honorable last stand that needs to be seen!

John machado goes for the choke

A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Movie!

You may or may not know that I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and have studied it for close to ten years (at time of writing) – so this movie is a big favorite of mine!

I love the fact that it’s about the code, doing the right and honorable thing over selling out becoming another piece of garbage that wants to dominate the world.  It’s that level of dedication and spirituality every serious martial artist (not necessarily fighter) goes through after years of training – afterall, it’s about bettering yourself!

By being kind and a good person, Mike’s life is turned upside down, his marriage is put to the test and he carries the load for the innocent victims that surround his life.

Mike Terry

What makes this movie inspirational is how Mike is just about to turn to the dark side and sell out when he does a complete 180 – marching up to those oppressing him and refusing to accept their resistance, either physically of mentally.  It’s an awesome moment and any real martial artist or person with a deep morality can relate to it.

The metaphor put forward by some of the filmmakers was that it mimics Jiu Jitsu – how you can turn a fight around at any moment, reversal, submit or a choke can finish a fight and as we watch Mike wrestle with his problems he follows his own advice – there’s no situation you can’t escape from and turn to your advantage, which he demonstrates in this last stand.

But before the thought and depth of whats happening, the philosophies within his training and even his dedication to the ideals put forward the Professor and head practitioner of his style ofJiu Jitsu – Joao Moro (played by Bruce Lee’s top man Dan Inosanto).   This of course all plays out poetically in the end.

Mike running his class

The Martial Arts

Man, this movie has some names.

  • Actor Jose Pablo Cantillo – who has roughly 10 years experience in Jeet Kune Do & BJJ at time of filming
  • Randy Couture – 5 time UFC World Champion and legend of MMA (like you didn’t know that!)
  • ‘Martial Arts Guru’ Dan Inosanto – Bruce Lee’s top Jeet Kune Do guy and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt
  • Enson Inoue – an MMA Fighter and former Shooto Champion
  • John Machado – 6th Degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, related very closely to the Gracies
  • Ray Mancini – Former Boxing Champion and BJJ Practitioner
  • A few familiar faces in the background – Ed O’Neill of Married with Children and who holds a BJJ Black Belt made a quick cameo in this film and MMA fighter Frank Trigg, who appears often in the background.

What’s funny is the lead is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor who has no martial arts experience yet does an awesome job in making it look real and authentic.  The training sequences and ring fights show off some nice BJJ and MMA style movements as they used real practitioners and rolled very naturally.

Terry fighting

What I loved was the final fight scene – backed by the events and everything riding on Mike’s code to fight his way through really makes it something you don’t want to miss.  He rolls with World Champ Ricardo Silva (played by BJJ Legend John Machado) and we see a real chess match between the two.

But throughout and even just before Mike and Ricardo start to fight we see Mike’s philosophies of embracing or deflecting force as he moves in and out of positions before and using his martial arts philoshophy to defeat his opponents.  Truly awesome stuff.

The Verdict?

I can’t believe it, but there are many who don’t like this film.  Those people are nuts!  It’s not the best action film but more of a thinker, check it out for some inspiration!

On Blu Ray –

Region Free (Plays in All Countries)

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)

Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Redbelt [DVD] [2009]

More info on Movie Regions here.

25 Martial Arts Movies All Fans Must See - FREE

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