Wednesday 18 November 2020

Jiu Jitsu (Movie Review)

I can usually tell if a film is a B movie just by taking a glance at some of its promotional material, be that a poster or a full-blown trailer for the film. And from the first moment I saw Jiu Jitsu, it had B movie written all over it. This is not necessarily a bad thing of course. I've seen my share of B movies that turned out decent for what they were. So I was going to give Jiu Jitsu a fair shot. But as I quickly found out while watching the film, some movies just shouldn't be touched, even with a stick.

This particular one opens with a chase between a man (Alain Moussi) and an invisible foe, at the end of which the man is mortally wounded. He passes out only to wake up later, patched up, but with no memory of who he is or what his mission was. The typical setup for these types of films. Anyways, our hero has to deal with a bad case of amnesia, while we the audience are left just as clueless. The truth is the film's story barely makes any sense, so I'll try to do my best to cough out a summary.

Basically, there's this comet that passes the Earth every six years, and when it does it tears open a portal from which a jiu jitsu fighting alien emerges. Yep. You heard that right. A jiu jitsu fighting alien. And in true Predator style, the alien would do battle with 9 chosen human warriors, until it is satisfied it has gotten a good fight. And our hero just happens to be one of the 9 warriors chosen for the alien to do battle with, during its current visit. At least I think that's the basic gist of it.

I'm not sure what I was expecting precisely, when I'd decided to watch Jiu Jitsu. Definitely not something that looked like it was shot in someone's backyard though. The effects were about as good as you can expect from any B movie, which is another way of saying not very good, but it was in fact the nonstop action and wooden acting that made it feel like I was watching something made by a bunch of 13 year olds. After about 30 minutes into the movie, I sincerely felt like I was watching martial arts porn. That's how relentless and over-stylized the fight scenes were.

This was made worse by the fact that the editing in-between those fight scenes was so choppy that it almost felt like significant portions of the film were missing. But I suspect it is just the story itself that wasn't making any lick of sense. The movie employees a comic-book-inspired style to smooth out the transitions from scene to scene, but that didn't really help in the way the filmmakers must have imagined they would.

The movie's one saving grace then was the inclusion of Nicolas Cage (which in retrospect was probably the only reason why I wanted to see the movie in the first place), even though he didn't make an appearance until about halfway into it. He isn't exactly a stranger to these low-budget action flicks, so he was able to fully embrace the silliness of the role, plus you've got to respect an actor that can deliver that much cheesy dialogue with a straight face.

If it wasn't apparent already, Jiu Jitsu is a film that is best avoided by anyone other than the most devoted of action junkies. But if you can switch your brain off for an hour and forty minutes, and just revel in all the B-movie glory on display, then you might be able to glean some enjoyment out of it.