Are you a fan of Jiu-Jitsu? Do you enjoy watching martial arts films that showcase the skill and technique of this ancient fighting style? If so, you’re in luck! In 2023, there are several Jiu-Jitsu movies that you need to add to your watchlist if you haven’t already. From classic documentaries to newer cinematic releases, these films are sure to inspire and entertain.
Jiu-Jitsu On The Big Screen
The sport’s increasing popularity has led to several films being made about it, both in the form of Hollywood-produced movies and documentaries. These films showcase the technical skill, athleticism, and cultural significance of Jiu-Jitsu.
In Hollywood-produced movies, Jiu-Jitsu is often used as a form of action and is frequently seen in fight scenes. The portrayal of Jiu-Jitsu in these films is usually highly stylized, with exaggerated movements and techniques that may not be practical in real life.
On the other hand, Jiu-Jitsu documentaries often focus on the history and culture of the martial art. They delve into the origins of Jiu-Jitsu and its development over time, highlighting the impact it has had on martial arts as a whole.
While Hollywood-produced Jiu-Jitsu movies and documentaries both contribute to the popularization of Jiu-Jitsu, their approaches and aims are vastly different. However, both forms of media contribute to the growth and evolution of the sport, showcasing its beauty and significance on the big screen.
Hollywood-Produced Jiu-Jitsu Movies
Hollywood-produced Jiu-Jitsu films typically focus on the sport’s action and fight scenes. The filmmakers aim to entertain the audience with intense fight scenes that showcase the physicality and technical skill of Jiu-Jitsu. These films often feature dramatic storylines that follow a protagonist’s journey as they strive to become a Jiu-Jitsu champion or deal with injustice and turbulence off the mats.
In the iconic action film “Lethal Weapon 1,” Mel Gibson’s character Martin Riggs uses a triangle choke to subdue Joshua (played by Gary Busey) in the final fight scene of the movie. The move is executed with precision and was the first showcase of BJJ on the big screen, courtesy of Rorion |gracie being a consultant for the fight choreography of the flick
From there on, Holywood kept releasing Jiu-Jitsu movies, although not at the rate we would all like. Here are some great examples:
1. Warrior (2011)
Warrior is a Hollywood film that tells the story of two estranged brothers who compete in a mixed martial arts tournament. The film showcases several different fighting styles, including Jiu-Jitsu, and features some impressive fight choreography.
2. Never Back Down 1 & 2 (2008 & 2011)
Both of these films follow young fighters as they train and compete in mixed martial arts tournaments. While not exclusively focused on Jiu-Jitsu, the films feature some impressive fight scenes that showcase the martial art.
3. Born A Champion (2021)
Born A Champion is a martial arts drama featuring Sean Patrick Flanery as a Jiu-Jitsu fighter. It tells the story of a retired Jiu-Jitsu champion who returns to competition after several years away from competitive apperances. The film features some impressive fight scenes that highlight the technical skill and physicality of Jiu-Jitsu.
4. Bruised (2021)
Bruised is a Hollywood film that stars Halle Berry as a washed-up MMA fighter who returns to the cage to prove herself as a mother and fighter, confronting her past and fighting for redemption. The film features some intense fight scenes, including Jiu-Jitsu, and showcases the emotional journey of its protagonist. Brian “T-city” Ortega taught Halle Berry Jiu-Jitsu for this particular movie.
5. Tokyo Zombie (2005)
This 2005 Japanese film is a unique take on the zombie genre, featuring two Jiu-Jitsu enthusiasts who must fend off hordes of the undead using their martial arts skills. The movie is a fun and quirky addition to the Jiu-Jitsu film canon.
6. Red Belt (2008)
A drama film that follows the story of Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Jiu-Jitsu instructor who faces a series of challenges, both in and out of the ring. The film features several notable Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, including Renato Magno and John Machado, and showcases the technical aspects of the martial art in a more realistic and grounded manner than some other Hollywood-produced films.
Documentary Jiu-Jitsu Movies
Jiu-Jitsu documentaries, on the other hand, typically focus on the history, culture, and technique of the sport. These Jiu-JItsu movies provide an insight into the lives of BJJ practitioners, their training routines, and the philosophy behind the martial art. The filmmakers aim to educate the audience about the sport’s cultural significance and its impact on society.
Check out some great examples of documentary Jiu-Jitsu movies to binge on.
7. Choke (1999)
Choke is a documentary film that follows the journey of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Rickson Gracie as he prepares for a Vale Tudo match in Japan. The film provides an intimate look into Gracie’s life, training regimen, and his family’s legacy in the martial arts world. Directed by Robert Raphael Goodman, Choke is a must-watch for any Jiu-Jitsu fan.
8. The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo (2010)
The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo is a documentary that explores the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and its roots in the Gracie family. The film features interviews with several members of the Gracie family and provides a fascinating insight into their journey from Japan to Brazil and their eventual rise to prominence in the martial arts world.
9. Renzo Gracie Legacy (2008)
Renzo Gracie Legacy is a documentary film that follows Renzo Gracie as he reflects on his family’s legacy in the martial arts world. The film features interviews with Renzo’s peers and family members, providing a comprehensive look into the Gracie family’s impact on the sport of Jiu-Jitsu.
10. Roll: Jiu-Jitsu in SoCal (2016)
Roll: Jiu-Jitsu in SoCal is a documentary that follows Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in Southern California and high-profile coaches that have schools in the area as they train, compete, and navigate the ups and downs of their personal lives. The film provides an honest and relatable look at the Jiu-Jitsu community and its culture in that part of the world.
11. Arte Suave (2001)
Arte Suave is a two-part documentary film that provides an in-depth look into the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu during the early days of the sport in Brazil. The film features interviews with several top practitioners of the sport and provides insight into their training methods, philosophy, and values.
12. Jiu-Jitsu Vs. The World (2015)
Jiu-Jitsu Vs. The World is a documentary film that explores the rise of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a global phenomenon. The film features interviews with top Jiu-Jitsu practitioners from around the world, providing a glimpse into the sport’s impact on their lives and the broader culture.
13. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Action (1994)
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Action is a documentary film that showcases the Gracie family’s rise and dominance in the early days of the UFC. The film features archival footage and interviews, with Gracie family members, providing a sense of the impact that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu had on the world of mixed martial arts.
14. Eddie Bravo: Building an Empire (2013)
Eddie Bravo: Building an Empire is a documentary that profiles Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Eddie Bravo and his rise to prominence in the BJJ world. The film showcases Bravo’s innovative approach to the sport and his development of the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu system.
Hollywood-produced Jiu-Jitsu movies and documentaries differ in their approach to the sport.
One of the key differences between Hollywood-produced Jiu-Jitsu movies and documentaries is the level of authenticity. Hollywood films often feature highly choreographed fight scenes that may not accurately represent Jiu-Jitsu’s techniques and style. In contrast, documentaries showcase real-life Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and provide insight into their training methods and techniques.
Another difference is the audience’s perspective. Hollywood-produced Jiu-Jitsu movies are typically aimed at a mainstream audience and aim to entertain with dramatic storylines and intense fight scenes. Documentaries, on the other hand, are aimed at Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and fans who want to learn more about the sport’s history, culture, and technique.
Jiu-Jitsu’s Impact On Pop Culture
The portrayal of Jiu-Jitsu in Hollywood films has had a significant impact on the martial art’s popularity. As more people have been exposed to Jiu-Jitsu through films and television shows, the art has become more mainstream.
In addition, the portrayal of Jiu-Jitsu in Hollywood has helped to dispel some of the myths surrounding the art. In the past, Jiu-Jitsu was often portrayed as a dangerous and exotic martial art that was practiced only by villains. However, the accurate portrayal of Jiu-Jitsu in Hollywood films has helped to demonstrate that it is a practical and effective martial art that can be practiced by anyone.
In fact, nowadays a huge part of the A-list celebrities from Holywood train BJJ as a primary way of staying in shape as opposed to only learning it for the requirements of their rolls.
The evolution of Jiu-Jitsu in Hollywood films has been a long and interesting journey. From its early appearances as an exotic martial art practiced by villains to its current status as a mainstream martial art, Jiu-Jitsu has come a long way. While Hollywood-produced Jiu-Jitsu movies focus on action and drama, documentaries delve deeper into the sport’s technique, culture, and philosophy. Both forms of media have their merits and appeal to different audiences.
So grab some popcorn, get comfortable, and prepare to be amazed by the power and grace of Jiu-Jitsu on the big screen.