JIU JITSU (2020) Reviews of alien vs. martial arts mayhem

 

Jiu Jitsu is a 2020 American science-fiction action feature film about an epic battle between martial arts experts and alien invaders.

Directed by Dimitri Logothetis (Kickboxer: Retaliation; Wings of the Dragon; Slaughterhouse Rock) from a screenplay co-written with Jim McGrath, the movie stars Nicolas Cage, Marie Avgeropoulos, Frank Grillo, Alain Moussi, Julu Chan and Tony Jaa.

Plot:

Every six years, an ancient order of expert Jiu-Jitsu fighters faces a fearsome alien invader in a battle for Earth. When war hero and master Jiu-Jitsu fighter Jake Barnes refuses to face Brax, the indomitable leader of the invaders, the future of humanity hangs in the balance.

Injured and suffering from amnesia, Jake is captured by a military squad that has arrived on the planet and is rescued by Wylie (Nicolas Cage) and a team of fellow Jiu-Jitsu fighters who must help him recover his memory and regain his strength for an epic battle that will once again determine the fate of mankind…

Reviews:

“Truthfully, the actors are just action figures for Logothetis, who hopes to wow with physical might, not story, relying on Predator-ish happenings to get through the run time. The blunt force trauma of Jiu Jitsu might be enough for some viewers simply in this for the cheap thrills, but this is not a production reaching for the stars with its watery cocktail of broken bodies and egocentric aliens. And that’s a real shame.” Blu-ray.com

“Martial artists clashing with a super-advanced alien warrior has certainly not been done to death and in this case it was done quite well… not surprising given the amount of skilled performers involved in this film. The Brax character would make a kick ass action figure and had elements of the Predator mixed with Spider-Man foe, Mysterio. And Alain Moussi is such a likable hero, you can’t help but want to see him save the world.” Bulletproof Action

“Director Dimitri Logothetis does some great work here with the actors and they have the intensity to convey the action. Nicholas Cage, brings his sardonic humor and impressive acting to the film. In addition to that is a translator, who adds humor and some intellect to the proceedings. Actress JuJu Chan provides the cunning and guile. Creative use of her extensive martial arts background is used to great effect.” Dan’s Movie Report

“How well it does will be interesting, not just in terms of seeing a follow-up, but in whether DTV action still has a strong market for sci-fi concepts. With a stellar cast, non-stop fights and stylish direction this proves to be an enjoyable throwback that will please genre fans. This is the kind of thing guys like Albert Pyun were making in the ’90s, but with added star power.” Flickering Myth

It’s cheap and shoddy and blatantly lifts from Bourne and Predator. (Including an invisible alien hiding in a tree.) With a who’s who of movie badasses, the fights deliver, though those are balanced by moments of jumbled tedium and flat characters. Watching Nicolas Cage is a damn fine time, which isn’t always the case […] There are good things and bad, moment to love and to hate; make of that what you will.” The Last Thing I See

“Cage does what he can to elevate the material, but he is given damn near nothing to work with, and when he is allowed to bloom, it’s too little too late. Predator crossed with Bloodsport and a splash of Highlander is definitely a concept I can get behind, it’s just a bummer that it turned out like this. Jiu Jitsu is an Adderall addled mess of a film…” Screen Anarchy

” …the film manages to offset Moussi’s void of charisma by bouncing him between more dynamic actors like Cage, Jaa, and Grillo, while Tarran’s portrayal of Brax as a guy in a suit rather than a CGI creation gives him a tangible, Power Rangers-like sense of presence […] Even though Logothetis succeeds at very little of what he’s experimenting with—he even botches a recreation of the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Carl Weathers handshake from Predator—it isn’t totally boring to see him try.” Slant magazine

Jiu Jitsu does have all the makings of a fun film. Unfortunately, it wastes a lot of their potential due to some very questionable decisions about how to shoot most of the action scenes. Rather than let the talented cast of action veterans do their thing and just film it, Logothetis uses all manner of camera trickery. Speeded up scenes, slow motion and extended point of view sequences all come into play for no apparent reason.” Voices from the Balcony

Jiu Jitsu is a step above from Kickboxer: Retaliation in terms of having a worthy villain in Ryan Tarran’s Brax being both a beast and agile, even if his face is more laughable. The ensemble cast do quite well but the overdosing of slow-motion impact shots may prove to be a hindrance to those looking forward to the fights, but they are quite decent.” World Film Geek

Release:

Highland Film will release Jiu Jitsu theatrically (limited) and on VOD in North America on November 20th 2020.  A Dutch DVD and Blu-ray premiere is on 4th December 2020 with a UK digital release on 21st December 2020.

Cast and characters:

Nicolas Cage … Wylie
Marie Avgeropoulos … Myra
Frank Grillo … Harrigan
Tony Jaa … Kueng
Marrese Crump … Forbes
JuJu Chan … Carmen
Rick Yune … Captain Sand
Alain Moussi … Jake
Tommy Walker … Private Tommy
Ryan Tarran … Brax
Rigan Machado … Victor
Dan Rizzuto … Franz
John D. Hickman … Sgt. Hickman
Supoj Khaowwong … Action Director
Jack Kingsley … Hector

Related:

SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (1985) Reviews and overview

Some image credits: The Last Thing I See

Trailer:

YouTube reviews: