Jiu Jitsu (2020 Film) Review – Well Shot But Not Well Written


With the grand success of Avengers, Marvel and DC studios are scrolling all the past comic book characters, in order to bring those characters to screen. They are hopeful to find another popular character like Spider-man or Batman. In their process, the audiences have experienced a plethora of new characters erupting on the screen. Some are memorable, while others just a repetition of what we have already seen. Jiu Jitsu (film) that is based on the comic book of the same name is yet another addition to the list of films based on comic book characters, but is it worth a shot? Let’s find out.

Jiu Jitsu (film) is a martial art film directed and co written by Dimitri Logothetis. The comic book, which was released in 2017, was also written by Dimitri Logothetis and Jim McGrath. Thus, it might be the case that Dimitri would have aspired to direct the film, himself.  Jiu Jitsu (film) isn’t coming from any big studio, like DC or Marvel and thus has no connection with any of their characters or story-line. It is totally a standalone. The film might give you feels of an Asian Power Rangers Live Action Film, because of it’s set up in Burma (an Asian Country) and thus, many Asian Characters portrayed in it. Dimitri’s effort is really commendable but is the film equally good?

The Story

The film begins with a man, Jake Barnes (Alain Moussi)  being chased by a transparent predator-like creature, deep in the woods. The creature throws round piercing blades at Jake who has to jump into the water to avoid the threat.

Jake, badly wounded, and close to death, is found by the local villagers who sew his wounds. But Jake doesn’t remember anything. The film, additionally, shows the arrival of a green comet in  the sky, that warns the viewers about an incoming Alien Attack.

An Asian woman who mends Jake’s wounds, carries his unconscious body, to a nearby American Army Camp, thinking they are Jake’s comrades. When questioned by the General, the Asian woman warns the Americans that they need to leave the space, and narrates a prophecy.

“Once every 6 years, a comet passes the earth. A hole opens inside the temple. Then the warrior of death comes through the hole.”

This warrior of death is chasing Jake and wants to kill him, the reason which is the explored part of the story. Thus the premise of the story is a chase and run, where an Alien is on a hunt who wants Jake.

Overwhelming Action that Soon Becomes Repetitive

The first actual action sequence of the film, where Jake fights some army men, is really intriguing. It is combined with some new martial art moves and excellent cinematography. At some point, cinematography and editing of the shots might give out a Gaming Experience, except you don’t have controls. These shots are in FPP and TPP (First Person Perspective and Third Person Perspective) which are commonly used in high end games. The only thing that is a miss, is the continuity of these shots and repetitive sequences. In the beginning, the treatment of these action sequences are overwhelming but when stretched too long, they just become an avoidable headache.

Lack of a Story-line

I haven’t read Jiu Jitsu comic books, but the film really doesn’t have any prominent plot. It’s something we have already seen, experienced and now ignored. Dimitri Logothetis has really tried to fill those gaps and lacks a storyline with overdone action sequences and chase sequences, that doesn’t amount to much. They all, quickly become monotonous and unavoidable. Even the final giveaway, on how Jake is going to deal with the villain is fed to the audience in such a lame manner, that you would be able to predict the end, a lot before it’s execution. That is some seriously bad writing out there.

Lack of a proper story leads to uninteresting characters, because they haven’t been explored. Same happens with Jake and another major character of the film, Wylie (Nicolas Cage).

What even Nicolas Cage was doing there?

The eminent elements of storytelling have been fast forwarded in Jiu Jitsu (film) while the unnecessary ones, like the action sequences are stuffed to the neck. That leads to a mess, like this film is. The film is marketed for its action sequences and a famous actor, Nicolas Cage.

Anyone watching the film for Cage, might feel cheated because he literally had done nothing in the film. There was a time when Cage was Ghost Rider and we do miss him. It has nothing to do with age, really, it’s just his choice or roles offered to him, are literally uninteresting. His character in Jiu Jitsu (film) is another disappointment to his fans. Nicholas Cage was the only actor in the film, who was acting and he wasn’t given enough screen to play.

Jiu Jitsu (film) seems like it is inspired from a lot of past video games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and movies like Alien vs Predator, Power Rangers. But it lacks any originality at it’s core. In the beginning, the treatment and action sequences do promise something new, but lack of story spoils everything in the go.

If you are looking for a martial arts movie, that would soon be over and you don’t have to put much effort to understand it, then Jiu Jitsu (film) could be watched. In case, you are looking for something substantial, then, well it’s your choice. Every kind of Cinema has its audience.

Jiu Jitsu (film) is releasing in theatres on 20th November 2020 (USA Region).

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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