The Ending Of Jiu Jitsu Explained

There's a very special type of action films, often meshed with other genres like science-fiction and horror, that requires audiences to embrace crazy campiness, simple dialogue, and a straightforward story working together to create a very entertaining movie. Some people just can't get past the idea that films need to be taken seriously and meticulously put together, and that's their loss. If you are willing to overlook this, you open yourself up to the exciting world of thrilling B movies. Netflix definitely understands the point of these movies, and the streaming platform has found a lot of success with films of this style in post-apocalyptic thrillers like How It Ends, and a recent acquisition called Jiu Jitsu.

The 2020 film Jiu Jitsu was added to the Netflix catalog this month, and it quickly landed in the site's Top 10 list. The martial arts action film stars Alain Moussi as Jake, an amnesiac who discovers he is a member of an ancient order of Jiu Jitsu fighters who defend the world from alien invaders. Every six years a comet passes the earth, opening up a portal that allows an alien named Brax to attack. While that plot summary might be enough to draw you in, Jiu Jitsu also has Nicolas Cage and Frank Grillo playing Jiu Jitsu warriors, along with a stacked cast of familiar faces and Netflix regulars. This includes Tony Jaa of Triple Threat, JuJu Chan of Wu Assassins, and Rick Yune of Marco Polo.

Do Jake, Cage's sensei Wylie, Grillo's intense Harrigan, and the other warriors save the world from the killer alien?

Nicolas Cage and Frank Grillo are defeated by the alien

Unfortunately, only a few Jiu Jitsu warriors make it to the end of the film, and Wylie and Harrigan are not in that group. The alien kills one warrior after another until it faces off against Harrigan, engaging in a fierce fight that leads to Harrigan getting stabbed in the chest. But before Brax can finish him off, Harrigan manages to throw two middle fingers up to show the alien how he really feels. Brax continues its murderous rampage, finally going up against Wylie. Cage's character's main storyline is about redemption, as Wylie lives in shame after fleeing the last fight against the aliens. He attempts to make up for past mistakes by fighting Brax now, and the two battle it out in a formal duel, as the alien seems to understand the traditions of martial arts. The fight is well-matched, but eventually the alien brutally takes him down.

Cage and Grillo have relatively small parts in Jiu Jitsu, but that should be expected with a low-budget film like this. There likely wasn't enough money to pay the two actors for more than a few days on set, which resulted in the condensed roles. Despite that, they make the most of their screen time. Wylie and Harrigan are two of the most memorable characters in the movie, and while they aren't on screen for long, they both manage to have relatively exciting and violent death scenes. Overall, Jiu Jitsu fully embraces it's R-rating, and the movie gets quite creative with the characters' deaths to add further shock and entertainment value. 

The alien has some strange weaknesses

Jiu Jitsu's final act shows Jake and the others discovering a few of Brax's surprise weaknesses that allow them to finish off the alien. One of these is fire, which apparently blinds the alien because of the heat vision technology it uses to see, allowing Jake a small advantage. But the main obstacle to defeating the alien is its healing ability. Brax can heal from pretty much anything, but it takes the alien a few seconds. Jake and the other warriors use this against Brax by cutting a hole in its stomach and shoving a few grenades inside. Brax's body heals over the explosive, leading it to go off inside of the alien as it is flown back through the portal right before it closes.

If you want to look at all of this logically, it doesn't make a ton of sense. Brax is clearly influenced by the Predator, the feared, technologically advanced alien whose only goal is to kill. But the movie leaves a lot of questions unanswered, especially about Brax. Although it seems like Jake kills the alien, the movie doesn't concretely explain whether or not the Jiu Jitsu warriors will be needed in six years when the portal opens again. Brax can't be the only one of its species, right? Also, you would think that one of the previous warriors would've thought to try a similar attack to counteract Brax's healing, but since Jake is supposedly the hero they've been waiting for, he's the one to succeed.

Of course, it's likely that the director and producers want to see Jiu Jitsu evolve into a franchise, so it's possible they purposely didn't answer those questions — or not.

Campy and fun or bad and cringy?

The big question with Jiu Jitsu is whether it's so-bad-it's good, or it's just plain bad. The movie got a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn't surprising, but it also got a 71% Audience Score with over 250 ratings, and it's doing really well on Netflix. So who's right?

Critics either hated Jiu Jitsu entirely, or saw it as a fun, R-rated sci-fi adventure. In Flickering Myth's review of the film, writer Shaun Munro referenced the lower quality CGI and special effects as one of its failures, saying that they "too often resemble cheap After Effects plugins rather than anything even remotely polished." On top of that, Munro stated, "the film's worst failing isn't the epic squandering of its talented cast, but how utterly uninteresting its villain is; an inexplicably generic guy-in-suit with a CGI red-eyed gorilla face underneath its visor." Not the most complementary review, that's for sure.

On the other hand, Polygon and other publications gave Jiu Jitsu a more positive response, claiming that the movie has "a long string of remarkable fight scenes," and "once it kicks into gear, it never feels like a waste of viewers' time, either." In Jiu Jitsu, "originality isn't really the point." But it appears that the main convincing factor for supporters of the film was Cage's performance. As Keith Phipps of Polygon perfectly explained it, "Cage seems to be having fun here." Ultimately, it's up to the viewers to decide whether it's worth it to follow Cage and the other actors on this crazy, extraterrestrial adventure.