Film Review: Jiu Jitsu (2020) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew CHAN (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
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With the film’s poster headlining Nicolas Cage and Tony Jaa in prominent leading roles, it is undeniably frustrating when you release that both actors ended up taking the backseat to martial arts and stuntman Alain Moussi (“Kick-boxer” series). That’s not to say that Moussi lack any kind of physical presence, but his bland acting display contrast with Cage’s famous over the top acting. Luckily, the film is ably supported by a group of quality action stars, Juju Chan, Frank Grillo and Rick Yune rounds out the supporting cast. This is the case of the kind of film that lacks the budget for quality sci-fi effects and a story that resembles any sort of coherency. Director Dimitri Logothetis (“Kickboxer series) may be comfortable in the action scenes, but fails in almost anywhere else. In turn creating a poor-man version of “Predator” meets “Kickboxer”.
Alain Moussi once again takes centre-stage as the memory loss, chosen one to save humanity from the aliens. Moussi is right at home whenever a fight scene is called upon, but struggles in creating any dramatic emotional core required in a leading role performance. Whilst, he is heavily coveted in “Kickboxer” as the fights and stunts overshadowed the plot-line and acting, “Jiu Jitsu” is not quite at that level of intensity as it is constantly hampered by the poor special effects and corny appearance of the key villain “Predator”. Luckily the film is saved by some Tony Jaa and Juju Chan interruptions which are far and in between. Of course, we also get an extended cameo from the master of overacting Nicolas Cage who seems to be heavily using a stunt double for almost all the fight scenes as the editing clearly shows in HD. Rick Yune and Frank Grillo are suitably wasted all-together in non-existent roles that could have been better off in the cutting board. It’s a shame as film with Yune as lead would make good cinema.
All in all, “Jiu Jitsu” fails to live up to its poster hype of seeing Tony Jaa and Cage head to head. It is disappointing that more is not made out of the comic book premises as the audience sit thru the dreadful story that gets dissected the moment you start using your brain. The action scenes are the only thing to watch for this film, but the stunt-work is no way near the director and star best work in “Kickboxer” series. Perhaps most of the budget went to Cage as paycheck and if that’s the case, the film may be better of with Cage as the alien villain than the awfully cheap CGI effect.
I rated it 4/10