| Writer-director David Mamet (“The Spanish Prisoner,” “The Winslow Boy” and “The Verdict”) is a scriptwriting genius. He is at the top of his game with this thinking-person’s “Rocky.”
Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor from “Kinky Boots” and “Dirty Pretty Things”) is a jiu-jitsu instructor who adapts the samurai’s code of honesty, honor and loyalty.
An accident at his self-defense studio on a dark, rainy night involving an off-duty police officer and a distraught female lawyer sets in a motion a series of events that thrust Mike into the professional mixed-martial arts fighting arena.
There are many cleverly conceived twists and turns in this suspenseful drama. The puzzle pieces of a central con game ultimately come together with a climactic revelation.
Ejiofor gives a masterful performance as a pawn in a money-making scheme. He expresses the moral conflict faced by his character through his facial expressions and body language.
The smart dialogue, an understated musical score and a strong supporting cast of Mamet regulars (David Paymer, Joe Mantegna, Rebecca Pidgeon and Ricky Jay) are additional strengths that make for an enjoyable viewing experience.
Keith Cohen, The Movie Guy