Interview: Alain Moussi on Upcoming Film ‘Jiu Jitsu’

Image courtesy of The Avenue

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Like clockwork, every six years, aliens that are known as the Brax come and invade Earth. That is where Alain Moussi, Nicolas Cage, Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan, Tony Jaa, and more come it. Their characters are the chosen fighters to protect the earth in the upcoming sci-fi action martial arts film Jiu Jitsu.

Moussi is a martial artist, stuntman, and actor that has worked on V-Wars, Street Fighter: Resurrection, Pacific Rim, Nikita, Bitten, X-Men: Apocalypse, Arrow, The Boys, and more. Also, in Orleans, Ottawa, Canada, he owns and operates K2 Martial Arts. There they provide training in various martial art styles and more.

Nerds and Beyond were fortunate enough to speak with Alain Moussi, who will be playing the character Jake in the film Jiu Jitsu. The movie from Dimitri Logothetis will be released on November 20.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Nerds and Beyond: How did your martial arts training lead you to stunt work and acting?

Alain Moussi: I have been training in martial arts since I was ten years old. I actually started training because I was such a fan of martial arts films, especially when I saw Bloodsport. I was ten years old, and I was like, “oh my god, I want to do this.” (Jean-Claude) Van Damme is jacked. He’s kicking people, and he’s doing the splits. I gotta learn this stuff, so I ended up joining a jiu-jitsu club. It was always the idea that it would be so cool to work in movies. As much as I wanted to be like Van Damme or like Wesley Snipes, I always thought, oh my god, imagine shooting movies and being that guy on set, and I always imagined that being that guy who I thought was really cool but doing his job. Then throughout the years, I met so many people training in martial arts. I was exposed to many martial arts throughout our Federation. I did training in karate, judo, and goshindo.

One of my very, very good friends Jean F. Lachapelle, who is a karate champion, and this was years later, and I knew he got into stunt work in Montreal (Quebec, Canada). We have been friends for 20 years almost, and I told him like, “listen, you know you gotta get me in, I gotta find a way, who do you know?” When Immortals came to be in Montreal, he was like, “Hey, I know the coordinator they are looking for guys that are tall, athletic, and that know martial arts that can fight.” Finally, I got an audition with the fight coordinator Jean Frenette, and he took me in and allowed me to start training with a team. By that time, I was not going to be in the movie. I was happy to be training with this stunt team and start learning to apply my martial arts skills, especially kicking, break-falls, and weapons work, to something that was going to be in the movies. I would possibly get a chance to get a day. That was all I was looking for. After a few weeks of prepping, I ended up shooting some of the previs. As the hero in the previs, he used me for that, and that caught the eye of the stunt coordinator who asked Jean about me and if I would be a good double for the lead. Jean said, “yeah, think he would be great,” and that’s how I got my first gig. One day he said, “Hey, all these guys are going to be on the team,” and there were 12 spots, and they needed 11 people. I was not in the 11 at the end. I was like, oh well, at least I got to train and get to train again. You never know what may happen. Finally, they said for Henry’s (Cavill) double, boom its Alain Moussi. And that’s how I got my first gig.

Funny enough, that is what led me to acting. A year later, I ended up working stunts with a team on a martial arts film in Montreal, and the producer was Dimitri (Logothetis). It was a martial arts film. He wanted to do an authentic martial arts film with an authentic lead that can perform the martial arts. We ended up doing a live show of all the fights for him. I was in three of the major fights. We did backflips. We did sword work. We did different martial arts, acrobatic throws, and all that kind of stuff, and at the end of the show, he talked to our stunt coordinator Jean. He came over, introduced himself to me, and talked to me for five minutes. He asked me all kinds of questions like where I come from, my family, and my background in martial arts and all that kind of stuff. The next day I got a call from the casting director saying that Dimitri wanted me to audition for the lead role. I ended up getting it, and that’s how me and Dimitri started working together on films.

Nerds and Beyond: That was actually the next question I had. How was it working with Dimitri from Kickboxer again?

Alain Moussi: Oh, amazing. Me and Dimitri love working together. We’ve known each other now for almost ten years, and this is our third go. It only gets better because we know each other. He knows me, how I perform, exactly how to push me in the right places to get me to my best, and I trust him fully in every decision he makes for the film. So this time around, when we collaborated together, I design a lot of the fights with our team, and he trusts me more and more even when it comes to camera work for the action. He has this vision. He knows exactly what he wants to see. He asks, “ok, Alain, what do you think? Should we shoot this? What’s the best order to shoot to make sure we get it done in a timely fashion?” We ended up in this film, like in the others, but even more in Jiu Jitsu, actually collaborating more and more on set in terms of not only in me performing but also behind the camera. Like when Nic (Nicolas Cage) was performing with the villain and when Frank Grillo was fighting the villain. So I was always there with Dimitri behind the monitors and helping to decide what to do with the camera, which was an amazing experience.

Nerds and Beyond: How did you become involved in the movie Jiu Jitsu?

Alain Moussi: We just finished releasing Kickboxer: Retaliation, which was a huge success. Dimitri started talking to me about doing Kickboxer three cause Kickboxer is meant to be a trilogy. We are shooting Kickboxer (Kickboxer: Armageddon) three next year. Finally, we had a script, and everything was a go, and all of a sudden, I get a call like a month later. He says, “Hey, so I have been talking to our salespeople, and they say that the markets really want an action martial arts sci-fi.” I was like, “really?” he said, “yeah, yeah, yeah, sci-fi is hot, action sci-fi martial arts, so pitched them the idea doing that, and they are all over it.” I said, “ok, what is it?” “Well, I’m going to call it Jiu Jitsu.” I’m like, “ok, what’s it about?” He said, “I will get back to you in two weeks.” Finally, two weeks later, he says, “ok, I got it.” He sends me this synopsis, and I’m like, “you are mad. What is this thing?” I loved it right away. I thought it was so creative it’s so balls to the wall. He had it right away. He knew where he was going with it, did the comic book and released that, and then wrote the script and showed me the script. I was in love with the script right away. It was so cool, so fun. I was involved with Jiu Jitsu from the get-go. He was like, “this is going to be your franchise, your film, and your franchise going forward.” So I was in Jiu Jitsu from its inception.

Nerds and Beyond: So, with you saying franchise is there a possibility of there being a second Jiu Jitsu movie?

Alain Moussi: There’s always the possibility of having a second Jiu Jitsu movie. Absolutely there’s already been words. They are already talking sequel. I saw it (the trailer) the day before everyone. So, the day before, I see the trailer, and I’m like, “oh my god!” I had no idea what it was going to look like. If I were watching this not knowing anything about it, I would want to go see it. Dimitri is always like that. Every time we talk about a film, we’re like kids. He was a martial artist as well. A black belt taught under Ed Parker. We are both like kids when we watch this stuff. If I was a kid and I want to see stuff, what would I want to see on the screen? That’s what he does, and that’s why I love it so much.

Nerds and Beyond: What can you tell us about your character Jake?

Alain Moussi: Yeah, Jake is a really interesting character. Actually, his journey is about trying to find himself and overcome his fears. That’s what I liked about this character so much. He’s gonna start low and really redeem himself. In the story, he ends up showing himself as a coward and really being afraid about the journey he’s supposed to take what he is meant to do. So he tries to escape tries to run away and only to find that’s not the right thing to do. Cause this alien, if you run away, he doesn’t like it, and he goes out after everybody. After that happens, he’s gotta come back with the help of mentors like Nicolas Cage’s character, Frank Grillo’s character, and with the help of his mentors to find himself and discover who he is meant to be and overcome his fears to find the courage to face the alien and believe in himself. I thought that was a cool story, which you know is something that you live as a martial artist all the time. Every time you compete, every time you are competing against yourself more than anything else, so I could relate to the character a lot.

Nerds and Beyond: With the continuous training that comes with martial arts, how does that factor when preparing for a new role for a movie?

Alain Moussi: I train all year. No matter what I’m always training, I never stop. What I do, though, is I direct my training towards the skill set that I need for the role I’m about to take on. In this case, with Jiu Jitsu, there’s obviously throwing and grappling. There is so much more we’re basing it on Japanese jiu-jitsu, which also includes sword work and striking as well. So I blend my martial arts training. I never stop but then for the next three months leading up to the film, I’m training in very specific things, very specific elements that I’m going to perform in the movie. The same goes for the conditioning. I do that non-stop, always doing circuit training just to keep myself in shape. It’s actually harder to let yourself stop training and then say, “ok, I’m going to start again,” cause then you go through the pain of going through the conditioning again—the first two weeks, especially. I’d rather just stay in shape. Keep training on a regular schedule. It’s part of my lifestyle. It keeps me sane it’s much easier when I start preparing for a role.

Nerds and Beyond: For anyone that wants to aspire to get into stunt work, what would you tell them?

Alain Moussi: Train. Acquire the skills that’s a major, major thing. Stunt work is a funny thing. When you first start and want to get into film, they think of the hero, like the stunt double for Wolverine, the stunt double for Captain America. But 80% of what you do, if not 90% of what you do, is taking hits and falling down. Some of my buddies were talking about that whenever somebody says, “listen, I’d love to get into stunts.” Ok, cool, what do you think about a day like this, we’re on set, and you gotta do a wire ratchet, which is like a pressure system that catapults you into a wall. Let’s say doing that ten times in a day or falling on your back like in Home Alone, legs up, flat on your back on the cement (floor) 20 times in a day. Now, if that’s ok with you, then you can do stunt work. Start training. Start training your falls, fight skills, acting skills. Those are all things you gotta train. Expect to be the ninja. You’re the shadows. You’re not the star. You’re meant to never be seen. So if that’s appealing to you to be the guy behind the scenes or the girl behind the scenes, well, then that’s great. If you’re in a city where you have stunt people train, major cities usually do, then go find a place where stunt people are training and start training with them, without pushing too hard without getting into it. Just training and showing your skills because that’s what stunt coordinators look for. They look for skilled people. They look for nice people that they would like to hang out with, and if you’re cool and skilled and have the skillset that less people have, or maybe almost nobody has. Then you’re special, and they’ll get you in with the right people in the business.

Thank you so much to Alain Moussi for his time. You can watch the trailer for Jiu Jitsu, which will be released on November 20, below.

Sarah

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As a Ravenclaw and introverted tattooed cat, Sarah enjoys reading, writing, and watching hockey (Go Leafs Go). You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @WyldeFandom

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