There is a simple process to ensure I watch a movie.
Step one, cast Nicolas Cage. Step two, there is no step two.
Despite there being some extremely average movies in the catalogue and some interesting performances I always enjoy them even if they are objectively not good. So a movie with him in it called Jiu Jitsu I was so frickin in.
Jiu Jitsu did take me through a whirlwind of emotions. From “Did this just jump to a flashback”, “wait now has it gone forward”, “when is this scene happening“, to “is this a Predator knock off?”. I had a lot of not so good feelings regularly, yet as I sit here writing this I can honestly say, Nicolas Cage was awesome.
Jiu Jitsu is based on a comic by the same name where an alien named Brax visits Earth every six years for a fight. In short, Brax came to Earth a long time ago and taught humans Jiu Jitsu so that every time the comet opens his portal he can come out and fight the chosen champions. If they run and he doesn’t complete the fight before the portal closes then he will stay on earth for the next six years slaughtering everyone, so there is a lot on the line.
The story follows Jake who has lost his memory, as he uncovers what is going on. In the chaotic scenes flashing forward and back he meets a Jiu Jitsu master played by Nicolas Cage. From here some fights ensue.
The toughest part of this is there are some good ideas in here, but some execution choices keep it from flowing better. The movie uses a few comic panels with the location on it when changing scenes, but they use it way too sporadically. If they used this more, especially when jumping time, I would have been a lot less confused and the whole movie would have flowed better.
There is some sketchy CGI which is fine. I can dig sketchy CGI from a quirky movie but Brax’s face through his helmet looks especially bad which seems like the kind of thing that should have been done with practical effects. A person with some makeup and a helmet could have looked way better.
The other annoyance is a nit pick with the premise. Supposedly Brax wants to have these fights so much that he taught humans the martial art and expects a certain amount of honor in the fight. Yet he uses some alien tech like his invisibility and weapons which don’t seem to line up with the vibe. It didn’t sit right.
The fight scenes vary from pretty good, to pretty meh and drawn out. Given the title, the premise, and the fact that Tony Jaa is in the movie it should have been so much more. The movie would be well redeemed if the fights were super awesome. Some scenes like an early one where an army base is infiltrated is pretty cool. Too many aren’t though.
At the end of the day, I still enjoyed Jiu Jitsu. There is some great and some terrible acting, some meh CGI, and an interesting albeit sketchy premise.
It’s not the next great action flick, but it’s a fun because it’s dumb movie.