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Jiu Jitsu's Alain Moussi discusses the alien's origins - Exclusive

What if Predator, but martial arts? That's kind of the one-sentence description of Jiu Jitsu, the new sci-fi action flick starring the likes of Alain Moussi, Nicolas Cage, Frank Grillo, and Tony Jaa. The movie's story revolves around Brax, an alien warrior who visits Earth every six years to square off against an assembled team of martial artists, with the fate of the planet and its population hanging in the balance. Also, the alien is the whole reason we have martial arts — particularly the movie's title style — in the first place. And he can turn invisible.

If that sounds outlandish in theory, it also is in practice, but in the type of over-the-top way that makes perfect sense within the confines of a wall-to-wall action film. Brax's look brings home his alien nature, but his fighting style is complex and comprehensive, incorporating various Earthly forms while also bringing something truly alien to the table. To find out what went into bringing the creature to life, we sat down with Jiu Jitsu's lead, stunt performer-turned-actor Alain Moussi, and got into how Brax's fighting style was devised.

Ancient martial arts under alien influence

For Moussi and the team behind Jiu Jitsu's stunts, figuring out how Brax would fight was all about his long history of visiting Earth, and his seeding of the planet with martial arts. "We wanted him to be the originator," Moussi says. "For us, it was about saying, 'Okay. What if we were able to go back in time, where we don't really know the exact origin of jiu-jitsu?' If we go back thousands of years, a lot of these martial arts started in India, then went through China, Japan, and evolved. For us, we were like, 'Okay, well, if we were to take this alien and plug him into a time in this development, this evolution, where would we plug him?' Then, why would he come back? Is it because he wants to take over the Earth? Well, he would've done that already, I guess, or his race would have done that already if they wanted to do that."

Instead, the answer lay in what Brax could reap from the combat crop he had sown. "We came up with the idea that, if he was to come, it would be to see how this fighting style has evolved and then possibly try to steal whatever new people come up with for himself," says Moussi. "He wants to see what we're going to do with it and how we're going to evolve with jiu-jitsu. What's cool is that you see Brax escalate. He goes from fighting one way at the beginning to escalating in his fighting style, meaning he seems to get stronger. He seems to get faster. He seems to just be able to do more as the film progresses because we're only giving him that ability as he evolved in the film with it, with the characters he meets, which is cool."

Jiu Jitsu's martial arts action does the evolution

To Moussi's mind, this evolutionary approach is key to Jiu Jitsu's martial arts action. "If you look at the characters, between Tony Jaa, Nicolas Cage, you have Frank Grillo's character as well, JuJu Chan, all the martial arts characters that are in the jiu-jitsu team, each one is a martial artist to begin with," he explains. "Then, what we wanted to do was take whatever style they're proficient in... Tony Jaa, for example, it's Thai, and he can do so much more, but we wanted to say, 'Okay. Well let's say we took jiu-jitsu, which originally had striking, gripping, throwing, grappling, weapons work. Now Tony Jaa does all this, but in a different style, in a Thai style. Now, what if we took that and gave it the jiu-jitsu twist? How about we took Frank Grillo's fighting style and we give it the jiu-jitsu twist?' because the beauty of martial arts is that you make it your own."

This individualized approach provided the freedom to mix and match when it came to the fighting styles of Brax and the team of warriors who oppose him. "Once you evolve in martial arts, once you advance, what you find is that you're no longer just constricted by a very specific way of doing things," says Moussi. "You tend to make it your own, and you tend to evolve in it. That's why you have martial artists such as Bruce Lee that eventually become Bruce Lee, because they've evolved through martial arts and then made it their own. We wanted to really lean into that in these characters."

You can see the end result of this evolution in Jiu Jitsu now in theaters.

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