Nicolas Cage’s cult status continues to grow with every movie he makes. The proof in the pudding is the fact that one of his latest movies, Jiu Jitsu, has been cracking the Netflix top 10 all week, reaching as high as the third most-watched movie on the streamer in the USA.
Jiu Jitsu is a science fiction martial arts mash-up that follows an ancient order of Jiu Jitsu fighters who, every six years, must battle a race of vicious aliens with the ultimate prize being Earth. For thousands of years, the ancient order has been able to defeat the invading aliens. Until now.
When we meet Jake Barnes (Alain Moussi), he is on the run from invaders leader Brax (Ryan Tarran). Barnes ends up on an ocean cliffside, where he falls off into the ocean, hitting his head on rocks and blacking out. Enter Nicolas Cage’s Wylie. Wylie is a Jiu Jitsu fighter who saves Barnes, handing him over to local fishermen where they patch him up and then take him to a nearby military outpost, thinking Barnes came from there.
Barnes has no memory of anything prior to dropping into the ocean. The operatives at the outpost become puzzled by the mention of a comet that arrives every six years and a hole in the top of a temple, so they press Barnes for answers he cannot give. One operative, Myra, tries truth serum on Barnes to no avail. But as they continue to try to get answers from Barnes, another fighter Keung (Tony Jaa) is making his way to him. There is more martial arts action until Keung reaches Barnes. When he does, Keung is able to convince Barnes they need to leave the outpost. This is when Barnes realizes he too knows how to use his fists in combat.
Of course, Brax is back in the picture. You can’t have a battle for Earth and not have the big baddie. Also returning is Nicolas Cage, with his funky headband and a sword, he is ready for battle. We wouldn’t dare spoil the rest of the movie for you.
Sadly, though, it’s the entirety of the movie that is a letdown (we even gave it a mediocre score in an earlier review). Not that it was Nicolas Cage’s fault, it’s just that the movie didn’t have enough of Nic Cage to make the movie worthwhile. Not only was Cage wasted, but so were Frank Grillo and Tony Jaa. Alain Moussi’s lead performance as Barnes was more a hindrance than anything, from his wooden reading of his lines to his poor attempt at romance with Carmen (JuJu Chan), the result is blah.
Dimitri Logothetis wrote and directed the film which is based on the 2017 comic book which Logothetis also wrote. Moussi and Logothetis have a history as Moussi starred in the last two Kickboxer movies, in which Logothetis produced while directing one of the films.
But the movie was met with immediate critical disdain. Fortunately, at this stage in Nicolas Cage’s career, and based on his movie role choices, he isn’t making films for critics, he is making films for his legions of fans, who have him propped up there next to Chuck Norris in cult status. The past few years have seen Nicolas Cage star in films such as Vengeance: A Love Story, Mandy, Mom and Dad, Running with the Devil, Primal, Prisoners of the Ghostland, and his most recent, Willy’s Wonderland. None of these movies are what one would call Academy Award-winning material, which is sad since Cage himself is an Academy Award-winning actor.
Nicolas Cage has the family pedigree that one would think making schlocky B movies is the last thing Cage would have to do. He was born a Coppola. His real name is Nicolas Kim Coppola and he is the nephew of Academy Award-winning director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather trilogy). He is the nephew to famed Rocky and The Godfather actress Talia Shire, and he is the cousin to directors Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola. But as he was beginning his acting career, Nic Cage wanted to avoid the label of nepotism, so he changed his name professionally from Coppola to Cage. He then let his acting and his famed, self-titled and taught nouveau shamanic acting style take over.
Nicolas Cage started making headway with Valley Girl, then Rumble Fish, and then Racing with the Moon. The more he performed, the bigger the movies got. Peggy Sue Got Married, Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Wild at Heart, and Honeymoon in Vegas, Cage was becoming a force. It all culminated in his nomination and eventual win at the 68th Academy Awards for Best Actor.
Nicolas Cage’s career continued to climb. He received one more Academy Awards nomination as Best Actor in the 2003 film Adaptation, but the actor would find success in bigger budget films. He started opposite Sean Connery in The Rock, he took on the National Treasure franchise (and may return to that), he jumped over to Marvel with Ghost Rider and its sequel, and he also found success with the animated film The Croods, which also has a sequel. But somewhere along the way (over the past decade), Cage has leaned into cult status full force. Fans are eating it up.
Next up for Nicolas Cage is a film called Pig. This movie follows a mushroom forager who is on the hunt for his kidnapped pig. No, we are not kidding. Also on tap for Cage is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, where Nic Cage plays Nicolas Cage (yes, himself) who appears at a billionaire’s birthday party because Cage is hurting for cash. The billionaire turns out to be a drug kingpin, which somehow eventually leads to Cage getting cast in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Wow. We also can’t forget the TV mini-series Cage is shooting. You know the one, where he plays Joe Exotic. How can you not love Nicolas Cage?
Check out Jiu Jitsu on Netflix. Everyone else is.