An idealistic martial-arts teacher (Chiwetel Ejiofor) finds himself briefly flirting with the film business after he saves a movie star (Tim Allen) from a beat-down. He soon finds out that movie guys are skunks, as are fickle wives who lust for money, and martial-arts promoters who look to make a fast dime off of somebody else’s ideas. Writer-director David Mamet loses focus on occasion, stuffing his film with too many subplots. Still, the dialogue has that trademark Mamet cadence, and Ejiofor is damned good as a man who won’t let his principles be shaken. Allen is good in his small role, proving that he can really act. Mamet mainstays such as Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay and Joe Mantegna also show up in bit parts. The film doesn’t always work, but Mamet keeps things moving, and the overall effect is satisfying.


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