Sony Pictures Classics will fully finance and handle worldwide distribution on longtime collaborator David Mamet's American Samurai tale Redbelt.

Chiwetel Ejiofor will star in the story of a martial arts master who enters prize fights for the first time in his life to pay off debts and regain his honour after he is hoodwinked by a cabal of promoters.

Mamet will direct from his original screenplay; production is scheduled to get underway in May in Los Angeles. Chrisann Vergesis producing.

'Redbelt is a project that could only spring from the pen and camera of David Mamet,' a statement from Sony Pictures Classics read.

'Redbelt promises an action drama unlike anything made before surrounding the world of Jiu-jitsu. We're so pleased one of America's finest maverick film-makers is back with Sony Classics. And, boy, is he back with a vengeance, and we love it.'

Sony Pictures Classics released Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner in 1998 and The Winslow Boy in 1999.