No one cranks out movies quite like Nic Cage. It seems like every week this guy has some new film dropping. Some are forgettable, some are great, some are of the horror variety, and some are just action-filled silliness. The guy has a lot of range in this way. He’s able to basically play himself in any kind of film you can come up with. And that he does. Well now another one of his films is hitting Netflix and it looks like a martial arts-y good time. Check out Jiu Jitsu which just started streaming on Netflix.
The premise for Jiu Jitsu is basically a mash-up of all kinds of action films you’ve already seen. It appears they almost played Mad Libs with the approach to the script and then formulated 90 minutes of movie around it. The results look like a mindlessly-fun good time. It’s a simple story really. The planet is under attack from an ancient alien race who return every few years to try to take over Earth. The only folks who can stop the evil aliens are a group of skilled martial artists who are tasked with the fight. Nic Cage plays something of a crazy sage in this story, bringing everyone up to speed (basically playing his crazy self) about the stakes they are facing.
In the fight for the world, nothing is going to be easy. This group of Jui Jitsu-ers have the job of eradicating the mysterious alien fighters and what appear to be one-on-one battles meant to highlight the particular fighting skills of everyone involved. From the appearance, it’s more a fun fighting movie than anything. Incredibly light on plot but heavy on the punching and kicking. That’s what we are looking for with a brain-dead action film right? A lot of ka-pows and whams with just enough story threaded in there to loosely hold the whole together. Here, check out the trailer for Jiu Jitsu:
Joining Nic Cage in the Jiu Jitsu cast are a couple of familiar names as well as a number of martial artists to round things out. The film’s star is Alain Moussi, a celebrated stuntman and martial artist playing one of the bigger roles of his career. He’s done stunts in movies like X:Men Days of Future Past and Suicide Squad but has also starred in a couple of Kickboxer movies as well. Then there’s Frank Grillo who makes an appearance as Harrigan. He’s got plenty of action chops under his belt and even has another cool action flick, Boss Level out right now. In terms of the fighters, we JuJu Chan and Tony Jaa bringing those skills to the arena and Rick Yune (The Fast and the Furious) as well.
Jiu Jitsu looks like one part Predator, one part Mortal Kombat for one whole silly martial art film. Critics have certainly seen it that way as well with the flick sitting at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and the same on Metacritic. The reviews trended mostly similar directions with folks saying that the fight scenes were enjoyable enough to watch but the plot was about as thin as they come. There was consensus around Nic Cage though with critics saying his appearance and role in the film provided a steady amount of quasi-comic relief in all the right places.
The film was a bomb at the box office when it first released on the big screen in late 2020. That had as much to do with pandemic-related closings and the theater downturn as anything else. It won’t come close to reaching its $25 million dollar budget which is a shame. This kind of Nic Cage film could have actually turned a halfway decent sum at the box office in regular times.
While this might not be the best Nic Cage movie ever made, I think it will play well for just the right kind of movie fan. A popcorn fighting movie has its place in the pantheon and if we walk in with that in mind then there’s plenty to enjoy. As for the actor, he’s got plenty going on these days. He’s coming off fighting demonic animatronics in Willy’s Wonderland which actually did okay with critics. Next up is a turn as Joe Exotic in the Netflix series that will adapt the Tiger King story. And there’s even talk of a Face/Off sequel. For the time being, catch him kicking a little ass in Jiu Jitsu.