Releasing this week on Netflix is an instant classic that will go down in the annals of martial arts movies as a unique movie amongst movies. Jiu Jitsu stars big names such as Nicholas Cage and Frank Grillo, along with Alain Moussi as the main character, Jake. Jiu Jitsu is not a Netflix original. Netflix is incapable of this level of…quality.

In this epically unique movie, a comet passes by Earth every 6 years. When it passes a special portal opens up, releasing an alien warrior. Nine warriors must fight this alien. When the alien kills the ninth warrior, he leaves for his dimension. Should any of the nine chosen warriors not fight the alien, it will stay and kill anything and everything, animal, innocent, everything.

Jake flees the alien and after falling from a cliff gets amnesia. The gang finds him, but he no longer remembers what is going on or his purpose in the events unfolding. He follows the crew until the final confrontation is inescapable.

In other words, imagine Predator…but worse.

Jiu Jitsu – Welcome to the 80’s

Jiu Jitsu

Let’s take a walk back memory lane. Those of you in the younger generations will not remember this, but elder millenials, Gen-X’ers and older will love this trip. Go back to the late 80’s and a weekend with nothing to do. You travel to the closest Blockbuster Video to rent some VHS tapes. You feel like martial arts this weekend, so you walk to that section.

Walk past the Van Damme movies, the Steven Segal movies, keep going, keep going. You reach the cheap, straight to video movies starring people you have never heard. If you are in the section consisting of movies so bad they are barely watchable with people that cannot act, and use martial arts staged by the Muppets, you will find Jiu Jitsu.

So would you rent it/stream it? HELL YES! Jiu Jitsu falls into the category of movies not only like the bad martial arts movies of the fledgling 80’s, but the old “B-Level” Sci-Fi movies that are so bad they are hilarious to watch. Mystery Science Theater 3000 created an entire show around these movies. Jiu Jitsu belongs with these movies. It’s so bad it’s amazing! The train wreck must be watched!

Jiu Jitsu – Who Cast This Movie!?

jiu jitsu

The casting of this movie really makes you scratch your head. Nicholas Cage is a big name and will definitely turn some heads in interest. Cage acts like trade-mark Cage. Start with Balthazar from Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Then think of the most eclectic, eccentric Cage roles and throw them into the mix. Add the textbook hippie long shirt, long hair, bandana and oversized sunglasses and you come to Wylie.

The problem comes after Cage. Frank Grillo is a throw away role. He did well in his most recent role in Boss Level, but you could replace him with anyone you want and nothing would change here. Lead character Jake, played by Alain Moussi, has no charm, charisma, or acting chops. He looks like he came straight from the 80’s straight-to-video movies. The only other character who stands out is Eddie Steeples as Tex. He is the black “translator” for the military, except he learned Burmese from Burmese-For-Idiots. He’s meant to be the incompetent, comic relief. He translates everything wrong and has no clue what’s happening. Beyond that the cast is 100% forgettable.

JuJu Chan Szeto plays Carmen, the supposed love interest of Jake’s. The problem only pops up when they attempt to act like there is an attraction. The two show zero chemistry, and the ‘relationship’ brings nothing to the movie. In fact the 80’s martial arts benefit from being R-rated. That usually guaranteed at least 5 seconds of nudity somewhere, unlike today’s PG-13 films. Speaking of PG-13, this may be an R, but I don’t know why. Do we see blood? Some. Do we see gore? Nope.

Jiu Jitsu – Assembling Awesomeness For Under $20

As if the plot itself wasn’t cheesy enough, the design doesn’t add anything either. The various martial arts weapons (Bo, Nunchakus, batons) all look like their made out of cheap tin. The various swords used look like the $36 versions you buy off of Wish. The creature shoots shurikens from its arms. They make Stormtroopers look like expert marksmen! At one point Tex runs down a hallway. Amazingly, 30-40 throwing stars miss a target running in a straight line with no cover!

The galactic monster suit looks like something from Season one of Power Rangers or Dr Who (and I mean Tom Baker series, not modern). Speaking of Power Rangers, the creature keeps its face covered by a faceplate with white smoke behind it. Any time the face materializes, it looks like Zordon from season 1 of the Power Rangers.

When we see the portal form and the creature comes through, it, too, looks like something out 1980’s Dr Who. Everything about this design keeps the cheesiness going.

Jiu Jitsu – But the Fighting Rocks…Right??

Sadly, no. The camp and cheese continue right through the fighting. First off, the moves fail to be as flashy as most fight movies. Part of that, I believe, points directly to the Martial art used. Jiu Jitsu doesn’t use the flashy kicks, punches and spins when compared to other martial arts. Jiu Jitsu uses more grappling and counterstrikes; However, other factors add to the lack of martial excellence.

Many of the moves are telegraphed well in advance, and when some punches and kicks should be caught in a counter move, the grip doesn’t always come off cleanly. When combatants throw one another, it feels like every time the camera focuses on the place where the the target gets thrown. Shockingly, every time the target conveniently lands on extremely forgiving ground. Of course this is for the safety of the stuntmen, but the camera needs to hide the ‘safe landing’, not highlight it.

Perhaps one of the worst aspects of this film deals with the way they shot it. The methods vary to the extreme. The camera angles transition from standard third person, to first person found-footage with a shanking camera, all the way to rotations that make you feel like someone just threw the camera like a throwing star. Add in major transitions that transform from live footage to actual comic pages and it’s almost nauseous. The camera literally pans from comic panel to comic panel and then go live once more. The jumbled mess really makes one ask what they were thinking when they shot it.

Jiu Jitsu – Call the MST3K Guys!

Most of the check marks for this film rest squarely on the con side of the ledger with very few pros marked off, but is this film worth watching? In many ways yes it is. If you want some Academy Award acting and high class martial arts do not click on this movie, but if you want to watch a train wreck of a film that is so bad it makes you laugh, then grab your MST3K shirt and have a blast.

It’s every drawback makes it oddly entertaining. While not in its class, it does remind me of the original Mortal Kombat. Everything is so bad, you can’t help but enjoy it.