Once every so often a film comes along that is such a horrendous misfire, that you wonder who on earth a) greenlit the project and b) why such a talented cast would get involved. Jiu Jitsu is that movie in 2020.
When Jake Barnes, a master Jiu Jitsu fighter, refuses to face Brax, an indomitable alien creature, the future of humanity hangs in the balance. Injured and suffering from severe amnesia, Jake is captured by a military squad unequipped to fight the merciless intruder who has descended upon the planet. Jake is rescued by Wylie, and an ancient order of Jiu Jitsu fighters who must help him recover his memory and regain his strength in order to band together and defeat Brax in an epic battle that will determine the fate of mankind.
Where to start? Well, first off for a film with the title Jiu Jitsu, there’s no actual discernible Jiu Jitsu in it. There’s plenty of fight action in the film, with one arm bar attempt which is about as close as it gets. The ‘fight’ action is horrible too, lots of slow-mo falling though things and skinny stuff, couple of punches and kicks but being as Tony Jaa is in the movie you’d think that there would be some creative action, but no. Most of his sequences comprise of a first person Doom- esque shaky cam which does absolutely nothing for the film. Jiu Jitsu been described as being like Predator, which while thematically that might be true, that’s where the comparisons should stop and straight away.
And while were on the subject of the cast, here you have Rick Yune, Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan, Tony Jaa and Nicolas Cage. Quite a cast on paper, but when Cage is the most sane thing in the film, you know where you stand. The really big problem with the film however is it’s lead actor Alain Moussi (No, not Cage, he’s just the biggest name on the list). The Stuntman turned ‘actor’ with the exception, he can’t actually act. A complete charisma vacuum that grinds the proceedings to a halt and the perpetrator of the majority of the slow-mo falling through things. Also, the film is so sloppily plotted that these various actors appear and disappear and re-appear again with little or no warning, so you could be forgiven for thinking that you’d fallen asleep and missed something. You haven’t the film is just all over the place.
The films villain, the alien Brax, looks like he probably got fired from the set of Power Rangers Dino Thunder and wandered onto the set of this movie as the whole thing looks like a 90’s video game. However, the most hilarious part of the film, is that Moussi’s character is constantly asked ‘don’t you know the plan?’ despite having it revealed early on, after falling from a cliff and banging his head on a coral in the water, thus suffering with amnesia of which the rest of his team are fully aware. This doesn’t just happen once either, this question is asked multiple times such is the oscar worthy scripting of Jiu Jitsu. It actually feels like that someone dropped the script and a couple of pages got blown away, because it certainly feels like there are entire sections of this film missing. Or maybe the editor was drunk or underpaid on the day he was called in.
Overall, you are probably thinking right now, ‘oh this is one of those so bad it’s good’ movies. no, no it isn’t, it’s one of those its so bad you’ll either turn it off, or you will watch it to the end and then remind yourself of the warning this review gave you and you’ll really wished you’d have listened. Hopefully this will achieve a couple of things though. Maybe Alain Moussi won’t get too many more starring roles and the likes of Grillo, Jaa and Yune will find the producers and show them what their combined talents are capable of.
Signature Entertainment presents Jiu Jitsu on Digital HD 21st December and Blu-ray & DVD 4th January