A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jiu Jitsu is an action movie starring Nicolas Cage about a group of warriors who must defeat an alien that emerges from a space portal. Violence is fantastical/comic-book style but pretty graphic, with martial arts fighting, guns and shooting, stabbing and slicing, blood sprays/bloody wounds, and explosions. Some characters die, and the alien seems to be able to burn people with his touch. Language includes "s--t," "bulls--t," "son of a bitch," "ass," and more. Cage's character smokes cigarettes in more than one scene, and a character asks, "Who wants a drink?" Sex isn't an issue, but a woman appears to be flirting with a man while she adjusts his battle armor. It's all pretty silly, with some frankly nauseating action scenes, but it might be fun enough to win over certain "so bad, it's good" movie fans.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In JIU JITSU, Jake Barnes (Alain Moussi) runs through the forest, pursued by some kind of unknown force. He jumps from a cliff, crashes into the water, and hits his head on a rock. When he comes to, he's in a military outpost. He's questioned by Myra (Marie Avgeropoulos) but can't remember anything. Before long, he's abducted by a band of martial artists -- including Harrigan (Frank Grillo), Kueng (Tony Jaa), and Carmen (JuJu Chan) -- who seem to remember him. He also encounters the hermit Wylie (Nicolas Cage), who tells him what's going on: Every six years, a comet passes over that opens a portal, and from the portal emerges an alien. This alien must battle nine warriors, or else it will destroy the world. Can Jake get his head back in the game and help save the world?
Is it any good?
With its preposterous story, bizarre action sequences, and performances in wildly varying pitches, this action movie is, at best, a candidate for so-bad-it's-good status. To start, the alien villain in Jiu Jitsu just doesn't make any sense. If he's beaten every six years, why does he keep coming back? Not to mention that the alien himself is just a guy in a suit with a mask-screen that plays different images. He's not particularly scary or even interesting. Then, the amnesia idea makes not the slightest bit of difference in the story. There's no reason for Jake to have lost his memory other than perhaps to stretch a five-minute idea into a longer movie.
Director Dimitri Logothetis, who seems intent on making Jiu Jitsu into a new franchise, films the action sequences with a nauseating skip-frame technique that makes everything seem twitchy, like a strobe effect. And the action switches randomly back and forth from slo-mo to regular time, which somehow makes things even less exciting. Even worse, the cameras are sometimes mounted on the actors, making for an even more disorienting sensation. The performances range from emotionless and muted to barking and shouting, but none can match Cage, who these days seems to be cast in movies just so he can provide another of his trademark "unhinged" characters. At least he seems to be having fun. He may be the only one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Jiu Jitsu's violence. How strong is it? Does it feel exciting or shocking? What does the movie show or not show to achieve this effect? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
What's the appeal of martial arts movies? Is it the violence? The graceful, poetic movements? A combination of both?
How is Carmen represented? Is she her own person, or is she there to "support" the male characters?
How are non-White cultures represented? Are stereotypes involved?
- In theaters: November 20, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2020
- Cast: Nicolas Cage, Frank Grillo, Alain Moussi
- Director: Dimitri Logothetis
- Studio: Highland Film Group
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence throughout
- Last updated: May 20, 2021
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