I don’t know about you but I’m a big fan of martial arts movies. There are many reasons for this, but one of the big ones is the speed and stunts involved. Back when Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan et-al burst onto the scene, people thought the film was sped up.
It wasn’t, it isn’t, the speed of these artists is amazing, the stunts they perform, the leaps, kicks, punches and more are mesmerizing.
Think back to when you first watched Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak, leaping through coils of barbed-wire, leaping from tables, round housing guys in the chops. Think even further back to Jackie Chan and the leaps and fight scenes we constantly saw.
They were all fast, they were all thrilling, they had me wanting to be able to do even half of what they were capable of.
And so this brings me to Jiu Jitsu, a film by Dimitri Logothetis (“Kickboxer: Retaliation”, “Air America (TV)”) which has the aforementioned Tony Jaa, alongside Rick Yune (“The Fast And The Furious”, “Alita: Battle Angel”), JuJu Chan (“Wu Assassins (TV)”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny”) and more.
It also features Nicolas Cage (“Color Out Of Space”, “Mandy”), but we’ll come back to him. So, here we have some good martial arts fighters and stuntmen, such as Alain Moussi (“Kickboxer: Retaliation”, “Kill Order”), who plays our protagonist but is best known as a stuntman.
The premise, such that it is, sees a comet arrive over Earth every six-years. When it does, it opens a portal and this brings out an alien called Brax, Ryan Tarran (another man better known as a stuntman), and Brax wants to fight the chosen one, haven taught earthlings how to fight using Jiu Jitsu centuries before.
Moussi is our chosen hero this year, whilst Brax – who it’s best not to think of as Predator, though that’s what he is – is picking off Moussi’s team one-by-one. This is partly because that’s what happens in movies and partly because Moussi has lost his memory and so everyone is having to improvise.
Alongside the obvious rip-off of Predator, Jiu Jitsu is also a weak story with some stunted acting and the slowest fight scenes you’ve witnessed. It’s not enough that the fight scenes are slow, it’s that Logothetis then elects to use slow-motion for the majority of kicks, punches and flips, regardless of whether they warrant it or not.
There’s also the random interjects of comic-strips we get when cutting between scenes. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason for this, just cause. Just like the sudden switch to first person PoV during one fight scene, and one fight scene alone, or the sudden use of Peep Show-esq body cameras, again just the once.
If there’s good to take it’s that Tony Jaa and JuJu Chan show why they are so good, the fight scenes they are involved in seem the most natural, the quickest, despite Logothetis slowing them down.
Then we’re on to Nic Cage. You have to wonder who he owes when he pops-up in movies like this? It is not quite his typical, crazy performance, he acts as some kind of old guru in his slow, meandering, Cage-way. He’s not in it for long but it’s more than a cameo and he does have an excellent death.
If you want to watch a Predator style alien fighting men in a forest, then watch the original Predator (not the remake), and if you want to watch some really good martial arts moves, heck, take you pick, just don’t pick this.
20th December 2020
THE QUICK SELL
Every six years, an ancient order of jiu-jitsu fighters joins forces to battle a vicious race of alien invaders. But when a celebrated war hero goes down in defeat, the fate of the planet and mankind hangs in the balance.