‘Jiu Jitsu’ Movie Review: Nicolas Cage Match

For most people, the selling point of Jiu Jitsu is Nicolas Cage doing martial arts. It delivers that, man oh man, but there’s even more for action movie buffs who’ve been following the genre. It’s also the new movie from the creator and star of the Kickboxer reboot. 

Where Nicolas Cage fits into ‘Jiu Jitsu’

A comet passes by the Earth every six years. Every time, a hole open up inside a temple and the warrior of death comes through. Jake (Alain Moussi) arrives at a military base in Burma with no memory, yet the skills to fight. 

Nicolas Cage and Alain Moussi
L-R: Nicolas Cage and Alain Moussi | The Avenue

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Other fighters gather while army intelligence officer Myra (Marie Avgeropoulos) interrogates Jake. She keeps questioning Jake when he has no memory, something about plutonium levels. It’s a thing and they have to fight and that part’s awesome.

There’s more. Brax (Ryan Tarran) has come to fight Earth’s Jiu Jitsu, our greatest fighters. If they lose, Brax will kill everything on the planet. It really doesn’t need to be this complicated with the comet and the temple. It could just be an alien arrives looking for a fight, but here we are. At one point Jake falls into Wylie (Cage)’s hideout. 

Nicolas Cage vs. the world 

Wylie ends up joining the team of fighters going up against Brax, but not before he fights Jake first. Cage can wield a pole. Some of Wylie’s more acrobatic moves are a double, but this isn’t The Matrix where Keanu Reeves could spend months learning Kung Fu. Cage probably learned what he could in the time he had and he performs well. 

Nicolas Cage in Jiu Jitsu
Nicolas Cage | The Avenue

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Cage also gives some of the convoluted exposition with his wild flare, and a few little Face/Off gestures too. It shows how he takes lines and plays with the emphasis, maybe adds his own colloquialisms. 

‘Jiu Jitsu’ showcases martial arts

Jiu Jitsu assembled a lot of great martial artists to join Moussi. Director Dimitri Logothetis and cinematographer Gerardo Madrazo make sure to showcase their work in clear action scenes. When the film introduces Tony Jaa, the camera has to go around building and catch back up with him, so it’s always following his moves, never trying to obscure them. 

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A first person point of view of Moussi’s fists is fun too. JuJu Chan gets some cool gadgets to add to her martial arts. Brax is like Predator meets the bounty hunters from Critters. He has cool armor and no face. Brax fights a lot of the other fighters in the woods, but even at night you can still see the fights clearly. 

Fans of hand to hand combat need something to tide them over between John Wick movies. Logothetis and Moussi are some of the filmmakers keeping the genre moving forward while Hollywood relies on CGI. Jiu Jitsu may bite off more than it can chew plot-wise but it delivers the thrills.