Jiu Jitsu: the review of the fantasy-action film with Cage, Jaa, Moussi and Grillo


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5/ 10 out of 424 votes. Original title: Jiu Jitsu, exit: 20-11-2020. Budget: $ 23,000,000. Director: Dimitri Logothetis.

12/09/2021 film review by Marco Tedesco

Director Dimitri Logothetis puts together a remarkable cast, which is brutally wasted in a film that is very poor in budget, ideas and technical solutions

Jiu Jitsu (2020) film

Think of all the action movies you’ve ever seen in your life and how many of them have you turned a blind eye to bad acting, a silly turn in history, or production values ​​not up to the minimum standards. Well, Jiu Jitsu it is that title that cleans up all the elements that usually convince you for good or bad to start – or continue – the vision and combines all the ‘problems’ you generally overlook in a giant stew of awfulness and not happy he also adds an additional load, including a photograph to the limits of the amateur and fatally, tremendous choreography of the fights.

Evidently encouraged by the recent ‘revitalization’ of the Kickboxer, the director and co-writer Dimitri Logothetis here brings together what on paper is certainly an impressive cast of martial artists around the stuntman and “actor” Alain Moussi for a sci-fi themed action movie that combines elements of Predator and of Mortal Kombat – without the budget or imagination of either, by the way – in a B-Movie woody, inert and senseless that not even a spirited test of the showman Nicolas Cage can redeem.

JiuJitsu.jpgJake Barnes (Moussi, Kickboxer: Vengeance) is a soldier who escapes the clutches of invisible opponents to land in the waters off Burma / Myanmar without knowing who he is or how he got there. Accompanied to a nearby military camp by locals who don’t know what to do with the imposing stranger, the man is jailed and interrogated by a secret service officer, Myra (Marie Avgeropolous), who is conducting a mission to investigate strange phenomena apparently associated with the passage of a meteor that appears in the sky every six years.

But before Myra can unlock any of the secrets hidden in Jake’s head, he is saved by a mysterious warrior named Keung (Tony Jaa) and reunites with a small group of fighters trained to protect Earth from a deadly extraterrestrial force.

As he ventures into the Burmese jungle with his well-trained cohorts, including grumpy edged weapons specialist Harrigan (Frank Grillo) and pretty Carmen (JuJu Chan), whose attentions suggest that they have shared more of the same training, Jake begins to regain his memory and find out more about the group, which he actually conceived.

But even as eccentric hermit Wylie (Cage) tries to help him remember who he is and understand the danger they all face – and the stakes if they fail – Jake must face his responsibilities to humanity and decide if he is. up to the challenge it faces. forget what he has already decided to accept.

The ‘inviting’ version of the plot above would be “a dude with amnesia learns that he will have to fight a chameleon alien who returns to Earth every six years to cross fists with the greatest warriors on the planet”, but Dimitri Logothetis wants to overdo it by peppering the script of Jiu Jitsu of various and possible references a Matrix, Power Rangers, The Bourne Identity and probably dozens of other tournament-based martial arts movies.

If we consider that there are Frank Grillo, Nicolas Cage, Tony Jaa, JuJu Chan and others in the supporting cast, Alain Moussi is sadly out of cast as a dude we should be deeply attached to, and even giving him the thankless task of making his memory loss something sympathetic or compelling is just plain unfair – to him and the audience.

During the first half of Jiu Jitsu there are at least three or four reversals of perspective that suggest Jake may be the hero or villain as these different groups attempt to incarcerate or pilot him, but Alain Moussi reacts to each new development with the same disbelief. (and no new real information to unravel the unfolding plot).


jiu jitsu film 2020 nicolas cageBefore the arrival of Nicolas Cage, most of the dialogue in Jiu Jitsu is a simple variation of questions that seem determined not to find answers: “Who is this guy?” “What do you know?” “He has no idea, does he?” “Don’t you know what your own plan is?” etc. When Nicolas Cage enters the scene, however, he takes the situation head-on, sort of a combination of Morpheus’s Matrix – lots of “drop out and be who you are” advice – and Dennis Hopper on cocaine fever by Apocalypse Now.

Paired with a stuntman performing his own fight sequences, Nicolas Cage almost steers the film towards a more appropriate area of ​​irony, especially if the alien looks like a ‘live’ version of the action figures of Super Naturals from the 80s with the face that is a hologram and fighting like a Power Rangers villain.

But it is difficult to understand who has messed the most, if the action director and stunt choreographer Supoj Khaowwong (The mercenaries 2) or Gerardo Madrazo (Kickboxer: Retaliation), in creating Jiu Jitsu’s too long, too boring and suspenseless action sequences. Tony Jaa may have gotten a little lost lately, but that doesn’t mean he deserves better than a presentation scene in which brave and faceless opponents literally wait a few meters from each other for him to execute without too much enthusiasm. choreography aimed at reaching them (and not even the CGI shots that conveniently propel him forward are convincing …).

Gerardo Madrazo organizes each fight with in mind slow motion dear to Zack Snyder, with each kick or punch being emphasized by a pause before it hits the target. And if the countless and repeated somersaults to capture the somersaults did not end up depriving viewers of the joy of watching these talented martial artists practice their choreography, shoots a sequence in which Jake indiscriminately adopts the camera’s point of view, jumping into the frame and then coming back, leaving us wondering either why a fighter would employ such a specific tactic or why a director would have to resort to that angle of view to document it.

Jiu Jitsu (2020) film nic cageAlthough it might be unfair to point out how much Jiu Jitsu was obviously accomplished with a tiny budget, what really matters is how they used their limited resources, and none of the film’s problems stem from the approach cartoonish or its decidedly mediocre visual effects.

What we ask ourselves in the end is: why did these actors decide to take part in it? Just for a ‘big’ check? Or perhaps they had been promised better opportunities to showcase their acting or martial arts skills than those that ended up on screen?

Because, let’s face it honestly, the idea of ​​an extraterrestrial coming down to Earth to test his greatest fighters isn’t the worst thing that’s been born in Hollywood. Yet, there is no good reason why the protagonist, who has devised the plan that everyone agrees to use to beat that alien, spends two-thirds of Jiu Jitsu without having any idea who he or anyone else is. . And ultimately, this is just the beginning of a long list of reasons the film is simply bad. Talking about a wasted opportunity is a euphemism that does not in the least tell the disappointment felt.

Below you will find the the international trailer of Jiu Jitsu, distributed as a surprise preview on Tim Vision:


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