5 Reasons Jiu Jitsu (The Movie) Made Me Mad Enough to Punch Things

Dept. of Rip-Offs and Remembrances


I should have known better than to trust Nicolas Cage. The quality of his recent output, if I was being generous, could best be described, as “variable.” Even when starring in stinkers though, he’s usually worth he price of admission. Unfortunately, even some acting from the Nicolas UNCaged schoool and martial arts from Tona Jaa can’t save this Predator Knock-off Jiu Jitsu.

Here are 5 reasons Jiu Jitsu made me mad enough to punch things.

1. Flagrant False Advertising, Part 1

Despite the prominence of Cage and Ong Bak martial Arts legend Tony Jaa in the marketing material, Cage and Jaa, aren’t the main characters of the Jiu Jitsu.

In fact they’re barely in it. Instead we get stuck with stuntman Alain Moussi as our main character, the amnesiac Jake who is trying to find out who he is, what’s going on, and what it has to do with the Predat- I mean the mysterious creature in the woods. His main skills are fighting and looking like this:

He may be giving an Oscar worthy performance of someone with amnesia, but it definitely does not result in an endearing character.

2.”Mind Blowing” Choreography

Look, I get it. It can be hard to get your movie to stand out when there is so much competition out there (or should that be “was out there,” before 2020?). You need to make your movie “pop” and what better way than to make your action scenes as memorable as possible!

Switching back and forth from a first person viewpoint in the middle of an action scene, with no cuts, or reason, is not it. 


Seriously, when Tony Jaa turns up to recue Jake, the camera switches to Jake’s perspective as he fights off waves of goons. You can see his hands as he awkwardly tries to block incoming blows, with the camera obviously getting in the way (see above!). “Okay” you might be thinking, “sounds like a fun gimmmick.” But then the “camera” lies down and Jake steps over it to continue fighting! With no cuts. This is one continuous shot!

Later in the same escape, Jake fights a few more goons before very carefully placing the camera on a nice stable surface before rolling into view to show off his fighting skills. 

What exactly is supposed to be happening here? Is Jake resting his eyeballs on the ground? Has his soul been punched out of his body?

A first person view in a film can be fun, like the infamous sequence from Doom, or the entirety of Hardcore Henry, but there needs to be some logic behind it, whether it’s an homage or gimmick. After these few scenes, the technique isn’t used again in Jiu Jitsu, so it seems the filmmakers themselves realized it wasn’t such a hot idea.

3. “Special” FX

On the recent Goggler podcast where we talked about Jiu Jitsu, Uma brought up Ninja Angkasa with regards to special effects and budget, which I didn’t think was fair. 

The Malaysian sci-fi martial arts film had an obviously minuscule budget in comparison to Jiu Jitsu, but it only really faltered when it “bumped up against the restrictions of low budget film-making rather than using them to their advantage.” 

With Jiu Jitsu, you can actually see the special effects budget on screen (along with the Cypriot locations that double for Myanmar), but the filmmakers clearly went for quantity over quality.

Just because you can afford to add a GCI glint of light, dancing along every single bladed weapon, every single time you see one in your film, doesn’t mean you should add one.

Likewise, adding a Wile E. Coyote style dust cloud when an enemy falls three feet doesn’t add any impact to your fight scenes.


So many of the effects used could have benefitted from a “less is more approach.” When hundreds of alien shurikens are flying around, impaling people, it doesn’t elicit fear or excitement, but instead bafflement. Is there only one alien shooting so many disks? How are they shooting from so many angles? And how can they miss so many times?

It makes the supposedly unstoppable alien seem killer about as skilled as a three year old with a NERF gun.

I don’t know why I expected more to be honest. The opening CGI scene is so bad it looks like it belongs on a PS1. If you have numerous special effects shots establishing the comet that brings the alien to Earth later in your film, then ditch the shoddy effects at the start of the film.

4. Amnesia As Character

There’s a reason why amnesia is used so many times in media. whether in movies or videogames. With an amnesiac hero the writer can parcel out bits of backstory, delivering them as the character discovers them for themselves, building suspense and reversals into their story. They can also avoid having to figure out how to handle all those clunky conversations characters need to have, about information they already know, just to get the audience up to speed.

“Time for the mission we’ve trained for all our lives ”
“About that, could you lay it out one more time?”


“Y’know, things haven’t been the same around here since that alien started coming down every six years demanding to fight nine people.”

Most stories that use amnesia don’t use it as an excuse to fill their word count with characters repeatedly stating “I don’t remember,” or asking “you really don’t remember?”, over and over again.

Podcast - Website Banner Ad 2

Most of us, when faced with an amnesiac friend, might try and help them out, or even just take their word for it, rather than ask them about it every five minutes. THIS is what happens throughout Jiu Jitsu.

By the end of the film I felt like I had extensive head trauma from the number of times this came up!

I guess this is why Jason Bourne prefers to work alone, to put an end to the incessant questioning.

5. Flagrant False Advertising, Part 2

Why the hell is this movie called Jiu Jitsu!? According to the film, the alien that Jake and his comrades are fighting “gave them Jiu Jitsu,” but they treat it like it’s The Force or something.

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art based around grappling and submission holds, and there’s barely any of that in the movie! The weapons used by our heroes, apart from the swords, aren’t even really associated with Jiu Jitsu either!


Even the director, Dimitri Logothesis, doesn’t seem to be all that interested in Jiu Jitsu beyond a catchy title, telling Nerdist.com:

“I didn’t want to be stuck in kung fu. I didn’t want to be stuck in Muay Thai. The team that I put together are all authentic martial artists, including Nic Cage, who’s a wonderful actor and embraces genre and really sells the story. You have to have that in martial arts. You see the expertise and the athleticism. And here that isn’t barred by any specific martial art.”

Dimitri Logothesis, speaking to Nerdist

Then call your movie something else!!!

All of this just adds to the feeling that Jiu Jitsu and wasn’t very well thought out, making the whole experience maddening.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a well worn trope and adding your own spin on it, but you have to add a spin! Just adding some martial arts to Predator with a little amnesia thrown in (did I mention our hero has amnesia) isn’t good enough!

Plenty of films have ripped off the “alien slowly hunts a group of people” concept of The Predator, but most add or change something significant. I have a personal soft spot for Outlander which mixed the alien hunt with the Grendel legend and Jim Caviziel. The Predator series has cannibalized itself numerous times, and could even be seen as a spin on Ridley Scott’s Alien, only in the jungle.

Most of those films have tried adding something significantly new to the formula, even if they haven’t achieved greatness, but very few have been so crass as to rip off the “Predator vision” wholesale.

Jiu Jitsu
102 minutes
Director: Dimitri Logothetis
Writers: Dimitri Logothetis, Jim McGrath
Cast: Alain Moussi, Nicolas Cage, Marie Avgeropoulos, Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan, Rick Yune, Eddie Steeples

Jiu Jitsu is currently available on VOD, but honestly, you’re better off watching any of the Predator movies instead.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

The Beast
Previous Story

The Beast (La Belva)

The Call
Next Story

The Call

Latest from Listicle