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Dimitri Logothetis On Directing His New Film Jiu Jitsu, Working With His All-Star Cast

November 25, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Jiu Jitsu Nicolas Cage

The 411 Interview: Dimitri Logothetis


Dimitri Logothetis is a writer, producer, and director who has been working in show business, according to imdb, since 1987 (Logothetis also acted in a few movies, starting in 1976). Logothetis has worked in both movies and television, directing such movies as Slaughterhouse Rock, Hungry for You, Cheyenne, and Kickboxer: Retaliation, and directing such TV shows as The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Air America, Code Name: Eternity, and Dark Realm. Logothetis’s latest movie as a director is the all-star sci-fi action flick Jiu Jitsu, which hit Digital and Video On Demand platforms and select theatres starting November 20th, 2020. In this interview, Logothetis talks with this writer about making Jiu Jitsu, working with such major action stars as Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo, and Nicolas Cage, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: Why did you want Jiu Jitsu to be your next movie as a director?

Dimitri Logothetis: After Kickboxer: Retaliation I wanted to marry science fiction with martial arts, and I was looking for a story that would stay martial arts centric, in that the science fiction would add to but not take away from the authentic martial artists who would deliver incredible live action athleticism and entertainment to the story.

BK: What was your inspiration for Jiu Jitsu as a writer? Describe your working relationship with co-writer Jim McGrath. Who came up with the title Jiu Jitsu?

DL: Jim and I have been working together for over 25 years now. We go back to television, working on shows like Air America and Warner Brother’s Code Name: Eternity and Dark Realm (I was the showrunner on both). We have a shorthand in storytelling and are fans of action. I came up with the Jiu Jitsu name because I did some research and found that this martial art had no historical origin despite dating back thousands of years. It might have come from Japan or Korea or even India and it was designed to help train villagers so they could protect themselves from marauders. Jiu Jitsu was perfect for our story as it could have been brought to the planet by aliens.

BK: Where was Jiu Jitsu made?

DL: There was a new cash rebate program in the country of Cyprus and the finance minister invited me and Marty Barab, my other producer, to the island along with 50 or so other producers from around the world to describe the cash rebate program.


BK: How did you cast Jiu Jitsu? How difficult was it to assemble such a large, all-star cast?

DL: I knew I wanted Alain Moussi from the Kickboxer films I had rebooted as he is a 6th degree Jiu Jitsu master, and then I had been trying to get Tony Jaa for years and got lucky that he was available. From there I got JuJu Chan and Frank Grillo and Alain recommended Maurice Crump who is exceptional. Finally, I got very lucky and was able to get Nicolas Cage, who brought a passion and heart to his character, and in my opinion sold the story exposition superbly, along with his own Jiu Jitsu martial arts training.


BK: How did you decide on the look of Jiu Jitsu?

DL: I worked with my director of photography, Gerardo Madrazo “Madrax” and we decided to go for a similar look inspired by Prometheus.

BK: How did you decide on the look of the alien Brax?

DL: I grew up watching the original The Day the Earth Stood Still on TV. I loved the faceless robot “Klatu.” Another one of my influences was Giger’s designs from the very first Alien film and so between those influences I came up with Brax look.


BK: Was it always your intention to have stunt coordinator Ryan Tarran play Brax?

DL: Ryan was recommended by Alain as he had worked with him before. Ryan had doubled for both Aquaman and Thor and he was an exceptional martial arts stunt man who we put through the ringer in that he had to move in hundred-degree temperatures in that rubber suit!


BK: How long did it take to make Jiu Jitsu, from finishing the script to completing post-production?

DL: Over a year and half.

BK: Describe your working relationship with “action director” Supoj Khaowwong.

DL: “Jim,” as he likes to be called, is a terrific stunt coordinator who is Muay Thai based. He has worked with many major actors in the past and I was fortunate to meet him when I made Kickboxer: Vengeance. This is our third film together, along with his exceptional Thai stunt team. I design and discuss the look and feel of each action sequence months in advance of shooting, and then Jim works with his team to pre-viz them and cut them together and send them to me. Then Alain reviews them while he is working with his team in Canada and we pull the best out of each stunt country’s collaboration and by the time we are on set, we know exactly what we are shooting.

BK: How has the moviemaking business changed since you started as a producer in 1987?

DL: Interesting stories have not changed. I try to first tell a story and make something that will entertain me, and hopefully the audience around the world will also have similar tastes to my own. In terms of equipment, cameras, visual effects, editing, it’s changed in leaps and bounds. But these are simply tools to tell an effective, entertaining story better.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

DL: Sure, Cameron, Spielberg, Peckinpah, Scorsese, John Woo, Mel Gibson, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Coppola, Tarantino, Christopher Nolan. I could keep going.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

DL: Man of War, written by Gary Scott Thompson, and there’s a cool project I’m adapting now called Brain Smasher… A Love Story, a remake of a picture which Andrew Dice Clay starred in.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Jiu Jitsu?

DL: A good time, have some fun, and enjoy some incredible martial arts athleticism. We all need some escapism right now.

BK: Any interest in making a Jiu Jitsu 2?

DL: Maybe. I’m told by distributors that Jiu Jitsu will be very well received.

BK: If you had to sword fight an alien how do you think you would fare?

DL: Horribly! I would make sure Alain and Tony Jaa would stand in for me.



A very special thanks to Dimitri Logothetis for agreeing to participate in this interview and to Camelia Adibi for setting it up.

Jiu Jitsu hit Digital, On Demand platforms, and select theatres starting November 20th, 2020. It hits DVD on December 22nd, 2020.

Check out my review of Jiu Jitsu here!

Check out the official Jiu Jitsu Facebook page here!

Check out the official Dimitri Logothetis website here!

All images courtesy of The Avenue Entertainment.