For Dimitri Logothetis, his latest film Jiu-Jitsu provides a fusion of some of his most favorite genres in martial arts, science fiction, and comics. I spoke with the director and producer to see how the project came about. "Combining science fiction with martial arts, and I thought about it," he said. "I thought it'd be pretty cool and so I talked to my writing partner, Jim McGrath, and so I said, 'why don't we write a comic book?'" When McGrath asked how he wanted to tackle it, Logothetis laid out his vision.
"Do you want to do you want to go backward and start writing comic books?" Logothetis recalled. "I said, 'No, I want to write a comic book, so I can actually see if it would make a good film because I'm very visual.' And so we wrote a comic book. I got a really good artist to draw it out. Then I started to be able to see this film, and I thought it could be a really cool, cool movie. That's how we went to script." When initializing the concept of the film, the director recalled the films he grew up watching. "I used to love watching movies all the time and The Seven Samurai," he said. "It's one of my favorite films. They made it [here] into The Magnificent Seven and then also sort of having this group of four of this crew of fighters who really have no chance of ever winning against an unbeatable foe. I always like that concept because they know walking into it that they're all going to die. Nevertheless, they lay their lives on the line for the better. Good. Integrity, loyalty to each other, and along the way, they lost their lives on mankind, so I always love that kind of concept."
When it comes to assembling the cast with stars like Nicolas Cage, Tony Jaa, and JuJu Chan, Logothetis laid out how the process came about for the martial arts sci-fi film. "Well, you can't make, in my opinion, the martial arts realm without starting out with real martial arts," he said. "You need to have a group of respected martial artists that are truly talented in their own right. And that's how I first settled on land specifically to bring back the Kickboxer franchise. And then, in terms of Tony Jaa, I'd been pursuing him for quite a while and wanted to work game for a long time. And so once I wrote it the piece around the land, and then I had that part of Keung in there for Tony. And so the minute they fell into place, then I went to Chan, and I brought my stunt team back into the mix that I discovered in Thailand with the first Kickboxer series."
In bringing Cage, Logothetis complemented the actor's passion for his craft. "Well, he's an incredible talent, and he embraces genre," he said. "He really loves movies, and he's the heart of the film because he's the one that sort of lays out the history and the myth of the film. And so you need a passionate actor to be able to lay that out so that the audience buys a storyline. Once that happens, then you're in, you know, and I mean, he's an Academy Award winner." The film also stars Alain Moussi and Frank Grillo. Jiu Jitsu comes to theatres from The Avenue Entertainment on November 20.
Every six years, an ancient order of jiu-jitsu fighters joins forces to battle a vicious race of alien invaders. But when a celebrated war hero goes down in defeat, the fate of the planet and mankind hangs in the balance.