Jiu Jitsu: Roger Corman-Worthy Campy Martial Arts Sci-Fi Schlock

Jiu Jitsu
3/10
Noteworthy performances from stars Alain Moussi, Nicolas Cage, and Marie Avgeropoulos anchor the martial arts, sci-fi film from Kickboxer franchise writer and director Dimitri Logothetis. Dragging plot saps some potential from higher quality action. Tony Jaa and JuJu Chan are somewhat wasted in this.

When it comes to campy martial arts science fiction action films, you can hardly go wrong with Dimitri Logothetis' Jiu Jitsu once you accept it for what it is. The film stars Alain Moussi, who plays Jake, one of several warriors destined to defend earth from an alien threat who looks more like the sentinel from X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and tries to behave like the Predator from the 1987 John McTiernan film. The film's opening sees him running through the forest dodging projectiles before getting nicked up a bit before following off a cliff to the ocean waters below.

Jiu Jitsu – Alain Moussi Talks Cast Camaraderie, Bond with Director
Alain Moussi as Jake and Marie Avgeropoulos as Myra in Jiu Jitsu (2020). Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures/The Avenue Entertainment

Surfacing with his head barely above water and near death, two fishermen pick him up, take him to their local village to be stitched up and nursed back to health. One of the fishermen is Wylie (Nicolas Cage), a wise hermit who has plenty of stories to tell. After being dropped off at a local U.S. Army base, Jake is discovered to have short term amnesia, not knowing who he is and what he's doing. All the typical cliché's withstanding; he bonds with his interrogation officer in Myra, played by The 100's Marie Avgeropoulos. For the interest of moving the story, since the Army was only a placeholder, his crew eventually help bust him out with their prowess in martial arts while the soldiers waste bullets. The screenplay, written by Logothetis and Jim McGrath, is cohesive, but clearly, the characters who are not Jake don't seem to understand how amnesia works, or maybe it's a device to drag the plot out, who knows? Most of the action stars do what is required of them in their lines, but obviously, they weren't hired to really talk. Most of the meaningful dialogue outside of the initial exchanges between Moussi and Avgeropoulos is given to Cage, Frank Grillo's Harrigan, and Eddie Steeples' Tex, the comic relief of the film doing his best Marlon Wayans' impression from Scary Movie 2 (2001).

Jiu Jitsu: Mortal Kombat Meets Predator in Nicolas Cage Sci-Fi Action
Nicolas Cage as Wylie in Jiu Jitsu (2020). Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures/The Avenue Entertainment

While Jiu Jitsu employs some high-profile action stars, it seems underwhelming at times, given how they're used. I expected to see Tony Jaa and JuJu Chan play bigger roles in the film and more fight scenes involving them, but it is what it is. They looked like they had fun. It's probably worth the time to kill on a streamer or a rental. Can't really say it's worth seeing in theatres if you decide to brave the novelty. The Paramount Pictures/Avenue Entertainment comes to theatres 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.

Jiu Jitsu: Mortal Kombat Meets Predator in Nicolas Cage Sci-Fi Action
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures/The Avenue Entertainment

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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