Ejiofor co-stars in Sony's martial arts drama

Tim Allen will star in “Redbelt,” the mixed martial arts drama David Mamet wrote and will direct for Sony Pictures Classics. Production starts next month in L.A.

Chiwetel Ejiofor co-stars.

Emily Mortimer, Alice Braga, Joe Mantegna, Rodrigo Santoro, Ricky Jay, David Paymer, Rebecca Pidgeon and Jose Pablo Cantillo will star, along with martial artists and fighters Randy Couture, John Machado, Danny Inosanto, Enson Inoue and Ray Mancini.

Ejiofor, who was the first actor Mamet set (Daily Variety, April 13), stars as a Jiu-jitsu master whose purity is compromised when he is drawn into the movie business and manipulated into brawling in ultimate fighting matches.

Allen plays a troubled action star with marital problems who meets the master when he is getting pummeled in a street fight.

Ejiofor has been training in London with members of the Gracie family, the renowned Brazilian fighting clan.

For Allen, the film marks a break from his usual comic and family fare. Allen last starred in “Wild Hogs” and is negotiating to reprise his role in a sequel, and was at the center of a Disney pitch deal for “Yosemite Three.”

“Redbelt” is being fully financed and distributed by Sony Pictures Classics; Chrisann Verges is producing.

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