I knew writer/director David Mamet's name, but apparently I'm not very familiar with his work because I have never seen one of his films. I picked a pretty dang good one to start with here.

Nearly penniless jujitsu instructor Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor, American Gangster) is barely able to keep his dojo open, but when he rescues a bona fide action movie star (Tim Allen, TV's Home Improvement) from a barroom beating, it looks like his fortunes may change. However, not everyone in his life is on the level, and his dealings with the star's agent, a random troubled lawyer and one of his pupils may lead him down a path he never wanted to travel—fighting for money.

The previews screamed this was going to be some kind of super action flick full of mixed martial arts (MMA). In reality, though the story swirls around the fighting lifestyle, there is very little actual combat. While it's clear Mamet is quite enamored with the roots of MMA, he is much more interested in focusing on his characters' stories.

Ejiofor is a unique acting talent and really almost carries the entire film. Luckily, the supporting cast, most notably Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl) all add humanity to an otherwise dry subject.

Remember, this one may seem like an action title, but it's really more of a drama. Mamet calls it a sort of modern-day samurai story, the kind Clint Eastwood used to make with his westerns. And I recommend renting it, whether you like martial arts or not.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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