Netflix has added a bizarre but beloved movie starring Nicolas Cage to its catalog this month that Cage's die-hard fans are going to want to see. The movie is Jiu Jitsu, a sci-fi martial arts movie mash-up directed and co-written by Dimitri Logothetis. Released just last year, the movie has an abysmal rating among critics, but a decent score with viewers themselves.
Jiu Jitsu tells the story of an ancient, secret order of martial artists who have been fending off the annual incursions of an alien race for thousands of years. Cage plays Wylie, an experienced Jiu Jitsu fighter who rescues war hero Jake Barnes (Alain Moussi) from an alien attack. He then indoctrinates Barnes into his secret order and enlists his help in the latest alien invasion attempt. Other stars of the movie include Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan and Tony Jaa.
On paper, Jiu Jitsu has all the key ingredients of a cult classic — including a breathy, manic performance from Cage himself. So far, it is not clear if the movie will take root in that kind of fandom, but it is still early to tell. It was released in November of 2020 in theaters and on streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) services since the coronavirus pandemic made a theatrical-only release difficult.
Even so, the results were not great. Jiu Jitsu earned $90,674 at the box office — not even close to its $25 million production budget. Meanwhile, critics began tearing into the movie at once. The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: "Jiu Jitsu pits an ancient order of warriors against an alien invasion -- yet despite that appealingly bizarre premise and a cast that includes Nicolas Cage and Tony Jaa, it's the audience that loses."
At the time of this writing, Jiu Jitsu has a 27 percent rating among critics based on 44 total reviews. However, among audiences, it has a 72 percent score, based on over 250 ratings. That may be in part because casual viewers know what they are looking for and what they're getting into by the time they start the movie.
Fans who seek the movie out may also be more familiar with the premise or have even read the comic book that the movie is based on. It is an adaptation of a comic book written by Logothetis himself and illustrated by Jim McGrath, which was published back in 2017. That explains the comic book panel graphics and other odd effects that struck some critics as out of place on the first viewing.
Now, fans can decide for themselves whether Jiu Jitsu is an under-appreciated masterpiece of a simple flop. It was added to the Netflix catalog on Saturday, March 20 for subscribers.