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The entertainingly frazzled presence of Nicolas Cage provides a reason to pay some attention – but not much – to this otherwise uninspired and by-the-numbers martial-arts action-sci-fi crossover.
Kickboxing star Alain Moussi plays Jake, a guy that we first see in some kind of mortal combat with a mysterious extraterrestrial figure that emerges from a temple in Burma every few years or so for a monumental showdown with humanity – or, at any rate, that element of humanity who are keen on one-on-one MMA smackdowns. Later, Jake wakes up with his memory gone, and must try to come to terms with his forgotten warrior destiny. In so doing, he makes contact with a priestly siblinghood of martial arts superstars who are also dead set on taking down this invader. They include the wacky Wylie (played by Cage himself), Carmen (taekwondo champ JuJu Chan), Kueng (Thai martial arts legend Tony Jaa) and Forbes (muay Thai enthusiast Marrese Crump).
The action sequences are weirdly extended and bland, like game-play action from a first-person game. Cage himself, as ever, gives it his freakily committed all, booming out the lines and at one stage showing how he’s been making hats out of newspaper. As he grinningly tags along with the fighters, Cage looks a bit like Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now.
Otherwise, though, it is all a bit joyless and grim – except, maybe, for one exchange when Jake wakes at a secure military facility to be told that he is in Burma. “Burma? I thought it was Myanmar!” he exclaims. Could it be that director and co-writer Dimitri Logothetis intended a reference to the classic moment in Seinfeld when Elaine’s employer J Peterman calls her and announces that he is in Burma: “You most likely know it as Myanmar. But it’ll always be Burma to me!”
• Jiu Jitsu is on digital formats from 21 December.
Source: The Guardian
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