Myanmar’s Bagan is arena for Nicolas Cage to battle alien predator in ‘Jiu-Jitsu’

Image: Paramount Pictures
Image: Paramount Pictures

A Hollywood national treasure hunter at his best in the oddest roles is set to kick – and presumably punch – alien ass in Myanmar’s Bagan in an upcoming film where he faces a vicious race of alien invaders in Bagan, Myanmar.

Nicholas Cage and friends will battle a nasty invader (guy in rubber suit) while spewing ridiculous dialog (“that is alien politics 5 through 15”) in a B-movie showdown set among the virtual splendor of the ancient capital of the Pagan Kingdom.

Virtual because, although the film was meant to shoot on location, production took place in Cyprus, likely because taxpayers there gave it millions of euros. But Bagan remains the setting in the new trailer, which shows a CGI makeover of the ancient city, where its temples and landscapes have gotten sci-fi upgrades.

Much as the title suggests, the film features the Brazilian martial art of Jiu-Jitsu, which just happens to be enjoying global popularity. 

The plot, what there is, is laid out by Cage in a few words stretched over what feels like 5 minutes in the trailer:

A “space man” who is “a poet warrior, in the sci-fi sense” is “looking for a fight” and must be defeated by the “the chosen jiu-jitsu.”

Translated: Wylie (Nicolas Cage) and his fellow jiu-jitsu fighters must team up with war hero Jake Barnes (Alain Moussi) against Brax, the indomitable alien invader. 

We assume that it’s an excuse for a ballet of brawling and grappling in action set pieces that will appeal to all the 30-somethings taking BJJ classes who love Predator.

The 1:48-minute trailer provides glimpses of Bagan at dawn, a Bagan farmer defending against the alien, and what looks like a spaceship or alien outpost in the middle of the city. Other local flavor comes courtesy of a small tattoo of “jiu-jitsu” written in Burmese and paired, of course, with a skull and dragon on one actor’s arm. It will definitely appeal to those who love the majesty of the ancient temples but wish they were a lot more violent.

The film features appearances by Thai turned Hollywood action star Tony Jaa (Ong Bak, Fast and the Furious) and Frank Grillo (The Purge).

“‘Jiu Jitsu’ is guaranteed to satisfy the millions of martial arts and science fiction lovers across the globe with world-class martial artists [and] Alain Moussi joining superstar Nicolas Cage for some formidable, no-holds-barred fight sequences set in exotic Burma,” director Dimitri Logothetis told Variety.

Logothetis has made a slew of economy action films featuring real fighters and stunt performers such as Moussi, Gina Carano, Sam Medina and even former WWE performer Dave Bautista. 

In 2015, Coconuts Bangkok wrote about his reboot of Kickboxer, which was filmed in Thailand.

‘Kickboxer’ remake kicks high at recapturing magic of original

The film reportedly cost $27.5 million to make.

There’s been considerable buzz before its release, given the allure of Academy Award-winning Cage’s weird-ass turns in delights such as Mandy and Mom and Dad.

The film, rated R for “violence throughout” by the U.S. Motion Picture Association, is set to release Nov. 20. Myanmar’s theaters remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic,  but the film will be available on unspecified digital platforms.

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