A lot of crazy things have happened in 2020, but the craziest in a cinematic sense has to be Jiu Jitsu starring the one and only Nicolas Cage. The Dimitri Logothetis directed film is martial arts/sci-fi/action hybrid which blends elements of Predator, Highlander and Mortal Kombat to delver something which might not be very good, but it is certainly…intriguing.
The convoluted plot for Jiu Jitsu plot makes very little sense, but it does see Alain Moussi play Jake, an amnesiac who wakes up in a Burmese jungle to discover that he’s the only one who can defend the earth in a fight against a Jiu Jitsu loving alien warrior who comes to earth every six years to do battle. Jake is aided in his task by a team of warriors which includes Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo and Rick Yune. Cage stars Wylie, a mysterious if somewhat crazy kook who becomes a mentor figure to Jake.
Dimitri Logothetis fills Jiu Jitsu with some well-staged and energetic fight sequences. They’re all way too long but they do feature some good touches and impressive camera work – there’s a great ‘first person’ fight which works very well.
Alain Moussi might have the physical chops for the starring role in Jiu Jitsu, but he certainly doesn’t have the charisma. He’s as wooden as the Burmese jungle (actually Cyprus) in which Jake finds himself. Thank god for Nicolas Cage, who embraces his role with gusto. He’s too good for the movie and he even impresses in the fight sequences. Say what you want about the movie, but Cage does not phone it in. Those looking for Tony Jaa and Frank Grillo action are going to be disappointed, their roles are little more than extended cameos.
Totally ludicrous but strangely entertaining in its own way, Jiu Jitsu is the most gonzo piece of filmmaking of 2020. Read into that what you will.