Many action movies are flippantly likened to video games, but few have ever earned that comparison more than Jiu Jitsu.
A series of Street Fighter-esque showdowns tethered together by the type of plot that would barely pass muster in a ‘90s coin-op, Dimitri Logothetis’ film tries to overtly embrace its print-based roots—it’s an adaptation of a comic series penned by the writer/director, and features transitional interludes that resemble hand-drawn panels.
Yet in both style and substance, it’s truly indebted to arcade fighting hits that prize complicated button-mashing combos over serious characterizations and drama.
Oh, and it’s also an aliens-versus-martial-artists saga in which Nicolas Cage plays a “crazy” sensei with serious blade-wielding skills.
That description might make Jiu Jitsu (on VOD Nov. 20) sound like an entertainingly mindless B-movie extravaganza, but frustratingly, Cage is almost totally wasted by Logothetis’ sci-fi beat-‘em-up, as are fellow genre luminaries Frank Grillo and Tony Jaa.
Sporting a scraggly beard and a giant sword, Cage’s Wylie lives in an underground clay chamber deep in the Burmese jungle, where he apparently spends his time doing, well, it’s not quite clear. What is obvious is that Cage has been hired to juice up the marquee personality quotient of this low-rent affair.
To that end, he does his part, cracking wise with manic “attitude” while providing sage advice for the material’s nominal protagonist, who’s such a blank slate that virtually anything Cage does—which, admittedly, is very little—resounds as colorful by contrast.