Jiu Jitsu (2020)

dir. Dimitri Logothetis

Jiu Jitsu is a truly baffling experience. The plot is beyond confusing: every six years, martial artists have to fight an alien race, but now a comet has appeared in the sky and made the ritual different and more dangerous for some reason, but the aliens – although we only ever actually see one alien, and defeating him is supposedly akin to total victory – are extremely polite and seem to cater to the rules of martial arts combat, even though it’s implied they’ll take over the Earth, except that’s never happened in the thousands of years this ritual has taken place, but despite the fact that humankind has apparently always defeated the aliens in the past, now no one knows how to defeat this one alien. And that’s just the start of it. Nicolas Cage’s grizzled mentor character even mumbles something vague about “alien politics” to explain away the intrinsic incomprehension of it all. Beyond that, Jiu Jitsu must have spent all its money on casting Cage and martial artist Tony Jaa, because the actual filmmaking is so rushed and amateur that a first-year filmmaking student would be ashamed of producing it. The CGI is a joke, whilst utterly odd camera choices include a fight scene where the camera is sometimes from the direct perspective of our protagonist, then tumbles to the ground for a bit to view the ensuing combat from the vantage point of his feet, then drifts off to become him again, and so on. It’s all interspersed with comic book art used as a transition tool between scenes, a nod to the comic on which the movie is based, and it’s just about as jarring and ill-conceived as every single other aspect of the film. Of course, despite everything, every single solitary second is meant to be taken completely seriously. Seemingly propelled forward by nothing but unbridled insanity, Jiu Jitsu is a bizarre delight to watch.

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