Mall action movies are casually compared to video games, but few are more deserving of this comparison Jiu Jitsu. A series of street fighter– weird confrontations linked together by the kind of plot that would barely fit in a 90s coin, Dimitri Logothetis’ film openly attempts to embrace its printed roots – it’s an adaptation of a series of comics written by writer / director, and features transition interludes that resemble hand-drawn panels. Yet, both in style and substance, it truly owes itself to arcade combat hits that value complicated button mash combos over serious characterizations and drama.
Oh, and it’s also an alien versus martial artist saga in which Nicolas Cage plays a “mad” sensei with serious blade skills.
This description could make Jiu Jitsu (on VOD November 20) sounds like a fun, silly B-movie extravaganza, but frustratingly, Cage is almost totally wasted by Logothetis’ sci-fi beat-’em-up, just like other luminaries of the genre. Frank Grillo and Tony Jaa. Sporting a tousled beard and a giant sword, Cage’s Wylie lives in an underground chamber of clay deep in the Burmese jungle, where he apparently spends his time doing, well, it’s not entirely clear. What is evident is that Cage was hired to improve the brand personality quotient of this low-rent business. To that end, he’s doing his part, cracking-wise with a manic “attitude” while providing sage advice to the material’s nominal protagonist, who is so pristine that virtually everything Cage does – which, admittedly, is very little – also resonates colorful by contrast.
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