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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Jiu Jitsu

November 21, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Jiu Jitsu Nicolas Cage

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #577: Jiu Jitsu

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never had to sword fight an alien, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seventy-seven, I take a look at the new all-star sci-fi action flick Jiu Jitsu, which hit movie theaters, digital, and Video On Demand starting November 20th, 2020.

For those of you wondering where the promised VFW review is: VFW will finally appear in early 2021. It will definitely happen then.

Jiu Jitsu


Jiu Jitsu, directed and co-written by Dimitri Logothetis (Jim McGrath also co-wrote the movie), is an all-star sci-fi action flick of the highest order. It’s not perfect by any stretch (it’s a little too long and clunky at times), but it is still a fantastic bit of lowish budget moviemaking. It’s also loads of fun, which is what’s most important.

Jiu Jitsu stars Alain Moussi as Jake, a man who doesn’t know who he is, why he’s in Burma surrounded by mysterious people who believe he’s incredibly important and that only he can save the world, or, really what the hell is going on. Save the world? From what? As Jake and the audience quickly learn, apparently, every six years, a weird beard alien fighter known as Brax (Ryan Tarran) shows up via an interdimensional portal thing in a religious shrine to engage in brutal martial arts brawls with the six best fighters in the world. If Brax shows up and there aren’t at least six worthy fighters Brax will destroy the world. As you would expect, learning this is quite traumatic for Jake, but he doesn’t have much time to absorb it intellectually as Brax does show up and the fighting begins immediately.

So who are the other fighters surrounding Jake and joining in on the brawl? The fighters are Harrigan, played by Frank Grillo, Carmen, as played by JuJu Chan, Kueng, as played by Tony Jaa, and eventually Nicolas Cage as Wylie, a sword wielding sort of hippie weirdo that lives underground. There’s also a guy named Forbes, played by Marrese Crump, and the great Ricky Yune shows up as a military agent named Captain Sand. Now, the U.S. military are sort of tangently involved in all of this, but they don’t really know the particulars of the whole alien fighter thing. The ones who really know what’s going on are Harrigan, Carmen, Kueng, and Wylie.

As Jake figures out what’s going on and Brax keeps popping up to fight someone, Wylie explains most of the backstory involving the portal and all that. It’s interesting, mostly because Cage is the one telling Jake the whole deal, but odds are good you won’t understand any of it. The most important thing, really, are the fights, and they’re very, very cool. There’s nothing ground breaking going on with the fights, but it’s fun to see the various action stars engage in fights with Brax. And the fights do escalate.

The military angle of the story is a bit confusing because it goes away after about the halfway mark and then pops up again via Tex (Eddie Steeples), a military translator who barely understands the local language. I don’t think the movie really needs it. Marie Avgeropoulos has a few nice scenes with Moussi as Myra, a soldier who tries to help Jake figure out who he is. I really thought she would figure into the movie until the end, but she stops being relevant at the halfway mark. So, again, why have the military in the story if you’re not going to use them?

The movie also acts like it’s a moving comic book, with comic book panels framing the action every so often. It’s visually interesting and helps establish how the movie, in the grand scheme of things, is meant to be fun (because comic books are fun). Does the movie really need those framing panels? Not really. I’m not sure the movie needs the big opening scene, where we see Jake running through the jungle while ducking various flying projectiles before jumping off a cliff into a body of water below. It’s an exciting way to start things, sure, but the plot would have been easier to understand if the movie started off with Jake in the midst of realizing he doesn’t know who he is or what’s going on.

The movie’s special effects look outstanding. There’s a good mix of practical and CGI effects, including a fabulous alien monster body suit worn by Tarran. There’s a certain The Guyver feel to the suit, and Tarran does a great job making the suit come alive. The face screen is awesome. It reminds me of one of those lenticular accessories that came with action figures back in the day. The little space ninja stars that shoot out of Brax’s wrists look better than expected. I mean, they’re obviously CGI but they’re not distracting. And the interdimensional space portal thing doesn’t look as cartoonish as it could have.

Now, the movie’s title, Jiu Jitsu, is kind of weird because, as far as I can tell, the actual martial art of Jiu Jitsu doesn’t really fit into the plot. It’s not like every fighter only uses Jiu Jitsu to fight off Brax, or that Jiu Jitsu is meant to be some super-secret ancient martial art that’s the only thing that can defeat Brax. Cage’s Wylie sort of explains what the whole “Jiu Jitsu” thing means in the context of the story, but it’s still weird even after you learn all of that. Hopefully, people won’t be turned off by the title, expecting the movie to be a Jiu Jitsu tournament movie. I believe that Nicolas Cage has some training in Jiu Jitsu, and I’d suspect that the real deal action stars in the movie have some training in Jiu Jitsu.


The performances are all terrific. Moussi is great as Jake. He really sells the whole “I don’t know what’s going on here” part of the story, and you experience the movie’s weirdness along with him. And Moussi does a fine job in the martial arts and action scenes he’s called on to do. He’s the star of the rebooted Kickboxer franchise, and if things work out with Jiu Jitsu, he could very well end up being the star of two low budget action franchises. That would be a mean feat in this day and age as low budget movie franchises are few and far between.

Tony Jaa is, as usual, amazing as Kueng. He does a phenomenal job in his fight sequences (he’s so smooth while beating the crap out of people) and he does a fine job helping guide Jake to his Brax fighting destiny. Frank Grillo shows us, just in case we didn’t know, how badass he can be as Harrigan. How is he not a bigger star? And kudos to Ryan Tarran for making Brax one of the better sci-fi movie villains in recent memory.

JuJu Chan is so damn good as Carmen. Her big fight scene with Brax is a show stopper of the highest order. And Rick Yune has some nice scenes as Captain Sand. And Marrese Crump? Why isn’t he a bigger star, too?


And then there’s Nicolas Cage as Wylie. Cage is intensely weird as the sword wielding hippie guy that knows everything and, I think, is closer to Jake than you expect. Cage does a decent enough job in the close up fight sequences he’s in (his stunt double does all of the jumps and whatnot that we see from long and medium shots, and while those sequences are not as seamless as they could have been, they still somehow fit in with the Wylie character. He’s so badass that he can momentarily alter his form in the middle of a fight). Cage also, as you would expect him to, embraces the movie’s weirdness, and that’s just awesome to witness.

Is Jiu Jitsu perfect? No way. The script is a bit too muddled and the movie is way too long. The story should have been streamlined and the movie could have used even more action. But, in the big scheme of things, those are just minor quibbles. Jiu Jitsu is a great sci-fi action flick with a top notch cast and a series of fun as hell fight sequences. Even with its issues, the movie is special, something that B-movie fans should embrace with open arms. It has all of the necessary components for a new low budget sci-fi action movie franchise, and that’s absolutely something that should happen. The world needs more Jiu Jitsu. Be sure to see the current Jiu Jitsu, so we get more of it in the future. If you’re a B-movie nerd, make it your personal mission.

See Jiu Jitsu. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 15.

Explosions: Multiple.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A comet approaches Earth, a man running through the jungle, multiple flying projectiles, cliff jumping, comic book panel hooey, a military interpreter, a medical examination, amnesia, a sudden beatdown, some very cool martial arts kicks, an injection, a one-on-multiple guys brawl, escaping, invisible force attack, guys in jeeps, exploding crossbow arrows, nunchuck hooey, metal pole hooey, knife fighting, night stick hooey, Geiger counter use, metal blade to the face, a Predator homage, regeneration, a fight in a cave, a weird temple in the desert, temple training, a potential off screen decapitation, a flashback fight scene, dueling nunchucks, knife throwing, giant spike spring trap, chest stabbing, double middle finger hooey, a full on alien brawl, attempted sword fighting, back breaker, serious throat slitting, really bad translating, shotgun hooey, a serious ass kicking, fire, grenade attack, exploding alien, and the prospect of a sequel.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Alain Moussi, “with Tony Jaa,” “And Nicolas Cage,” a skull and snake tattoo, Rick Yune, using international databases, Tony Jaa, occasional slow motion for some reason, first person point-of-view martial arts fighting, Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan, Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Cage throwing a knife, an obvious stunt double for Nicolas Cage, lizard, Nicolas Cage explaining the plot, Nicolas Cage cooking something on a rotating spit, an all-star martial arts attack, really bad translating, turning one sword into two, and the prospect of a sequel.

Best lines: “The fish will spoil,” “Hey, woman! What you saying? She ain’t saying shit, Sarge!,” “This is because of the comet,” “I like women with thick thighs,” “You know what I don’t understand? How the hell you’re still alive,” “Are you really asking me who I am?,” “Who the hell were those Jedi knights that took out my entire team?,” “It’s not that kind of radiation,” “That’s my favorite chair. I knew you’d find it comfortable,” “He is the one who gave us Jiu Jitsu,” “You don’t think we should go look for him?,” “See, it’s already started,” “Always remember what you have with Jiu Jitsu. Leverage,” “Who is this clown?,” “Who wants a drink?,” “No, that stuff is poison,” and “See you in six years.”

Rating: 8.0/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


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Next Issue: The low budget action flick 6 Bullets starring Jean-Claude Van Damme!


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Jiu Jitsu

Alain Moussi– Jake
Frank Grillo– Harrigan
Tony Jaa– Kueng
Nicolas Cage– Wylie
JuJu Chan– Carmen
Rick Yune– Captain Sand
Marrese Crump– Forbes
Marie Avgeropoulos– Myra
Eddie Steeples– Tex
Ryan Tarran– Brax

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Dimitri Logothetis
Screenplay by</B. Dimitri Logothetis and Jim McGrath

Distributed by The Avenue Entertainment and Highland Film Group

Rated R for violence
Runtime– 102 minutes

Jiu Jitsu is currently in select movie theaters and on various Digital and On Demand platforms starting November 20th, 2020. The movie will be available on DVD starting December 22nd, 2020, according to Amazon.

Watch it on Amazon here