17th Dec2020

‘Jiu Jitsu’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Frank Grillo, Tony Jaa, Alain Moussi, Rick Yune, Marie Avgeropoulos | Written by Dimitiri Logothetis, Jim McGrath | Directed by Dimitiri Logothetis

Apparently Bruce Willis was slated to be in this instead of Nicolas Cage… Thank the movie gods we got Cage!

I guess in some circles the career of Nicolas Cage has become somewhat of a “meme”. Yes it can be said that we are a far cry from the Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas Cage or the height of his acting clout, 90s Face/Off Cage, but I am of the firm opinion we are in the vintage Cage phase of this damn fine actors career. Also let’s be honest Mandy, Colour Out of Space and Primal are all cracking movies in their own right and these are his latest outings; so you never know, much like Josh Brolin and Matthew McConaughey had their comebacks, we may be in the midst of a Niconaissance (that’s mine you can’t have it).

This brings us to Jiu Jitsu and I knew I had to see this flick the moment I read the synopsis. Nicolas Cage uses martial arts to battle aliens with the help of Tony Jaa, Alain Moussi and Frank Grillo. Come on this movie absolutely sells itself and yeah I am just gonna put this out there, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to see a Nic Cage film!

Brax is a bad ass alien from another world who travels from planet to planet challenging their best warriors. There are two choices, Fight or Die. It has been six years since Earths last visit but now he is back to take on the best from all manor of backgrounds from Martial Arts to Special Ops to the Purest form of Jiu Jitsu. We join Jake (Moussi) who seems to have lost his memory but has a skillset that scares even him. After being interrogated by some soldiers he is rescued by Keung (Jaa) And soon finds he is part of a crack team charged with taking on Brax including Harrigan (Grillo), Myra (Avgeropoulos) and guided by the strange and slightly mad Wylie (Cage). Cue the Mortal Kombat-style shenanigans as they fight against our extinction!

From the moment I saw the trailer for Jiu Jitsu I have been somewhat excited, for some reason it just struck me as some sort of off-the-wall bonkers, punchy-kicky, alien fightfest, with Cage essentially playing Raiden. Show me someone who doesn’t want to see that movie and I’ll call that damn dirty ape a liar. Jiu Jitsu lived up to what I was expecting and hit the level it set for itself. I mean seriously guys what more could you possibly ask for?

  1. Jiu Jitsu has a bad ass alien warrior that is clearly a take on the Predator but fights like all your favorite action stars (shout out to Ryan Tarran in the costume).
  2. Jiu Jitsu has some insane fight choreography from one of the worlds best martial artists of the moment in Tony Jaa.
  3. Jiu Jitsu has Van Damme’s heir apparent to the Kickboxer franchise, Alain Moussi, kicking ass and this guys choreography is insane.
  4. Jiu Jitsu has some absolutely deadly female leads in Marie Avgeropoulos and JuJu Chan more than holding their own.
  5. Frank Grillo is in Jiu Jitsu. Nuff Said!
  6. Jiu Jitsu has Nicolas Cage straight up going hand to hand combat with an alien and doing cartwheel kicks (I mean it might of been a stunt performer but hey, I can dream dammit).

I have to shout out Director Dimitiri Logothetis on this one for taking some pretty gnarly risks in terms of his visual style too. There is a part of the movie that goes into the first person view of Moussi when he is in beast mode – it is fast, frantic and most importantly chaotic BUT at a couple of points during these scenes we the viewer are thrown out of first person and the camera stays still while the fight continues until we are connected back to Moussi in the first person (hope that makes sense). I loved this technique and thought it worked effortlessly and made the punches and kicks look – and land – much harder.

Of course the fight choreography was never in doubt with Logothetis in charge and so many top class fight and stunts guys. While all of this seems fairly positive it has to be said that the story does go down an odd path and lost me at points, which is a shame because the action will get me so far but the accompanying story and acting needs to push me over. Was the acting amazing? Not really – it was pretty much what I expected but to be fair I didn’t watch it for that, I just wanted a 2020 Mortal Kombat-esque movie and this wasn’t far off.

Jiu Jitsu is a lot of fun, just don’t take it too serious and think yourself lucky we didn’t get Bruce Willis trying to pull this role off. Oh also, apparently Cage was only on set for like 5 days which considering how much he is in, that guy is a friggin’ workhorse. Long may the Niconaissance continue! Frank Grillo is in this flick Too!

*** 3/5

Signature Entertainment presents Jiu Jitsu on Digital HD 21st December and Blu-ray & DVD 4th January

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