If you’ve never seen a martial arts movie – or anything starring either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Danny Glover – Jiu Jitsu might blow your mind.
If you have – and that likely includes most of us – you’re assured to be unimpressed because Jiu Jitsu is too derivative of much better movies like Predator (1987), Predator 2 (1990) and Mortal Kombat (1995).
The latter hasn’t aged particularly well though that’s more because it’s a product of it’s time than anything else.
Plus Paul W.S. Anderson. Enough said.
The story revolves around an alien hunter that returns to Earth every six or so years to challenge our best fighters.
To facilitate this the aliens brought us jiu jitsu – Yes, aliens brought us a martial art, which is not only ridiculous and unsatisfying but begs the question: What about the other martial arts out there?
It’s an idea that Erick von Däniken might love, but like his theories, it’s kinda dopey.
So we have a dumb story that I had wished they’d never bothered with – just give us an alien with murky motivations that comes to Earth every six years to fight our best warriors, and those that are aware of this are given the responsibility of defeating this creature or the aliens will turn their ire on the rest of the planet.
That’s it. Done. And sure, it’s spare and still steals from movies like Predator but it’s not like Predator hasn’t done it’s fair share of thievery (take a look at – in my opinion – the superior Without Warning (1980)).
Though if the storyline were the only problem, it the martial arts action were better then I might be able to see my way around the story deficiencies.
Unfortunately, it isn’t, mainly because it lacks the kineticism, the brutality of better staged fights.
I mean, I’m not talking about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) levels of floatiness but it doesn’t feel nearly as visceral as I’d like it to.
The movie also stars Nicolas (without the ‘h,’ the way the universe intended) Cage and Frank Grillo, which normally would be a sign that, at the very least, things would be interesting, though it never really is.
Both roles are little more than extended cameos, so if you typically like their work this isn’t the movie for you.
In fact, I’d just rewatch either Predator or Predator 2 and replace Mortal Kombat with Without Warning.
You’ll be glad you did.