This is a bit of an older one, having been released in 2009, but fans of exotic, obscure and downright fascinating martial arts would be well served to seek out a copy of “Besouro” as soon as possible.
We’ve seen capoeira given brief “cameo appearances” in a number of martial arts films, such as the twitching, Adidas-tracksuit-wearing henchman in “Chocolate” and a spectacular piece in Tony Jaa’s “The Protector”, but as far as films that really feature capoeira on center stage, the pickings are so slim as to be non-existent. “Besouro” then is one of those great martial arts films that really shows the audience something new, capturing the same excitement you felt the first time you saw a flying kick performed in a Bruce Lee film: even if you’ve seen fight films before, you haven’t seen a fight film like this.
Inspired by the life of Besouro, a Bahian capoeira legend, the film showcases the incredible talents of Ailton Carmo. Think “Brazilian ‘Once Upon a Time in China’” and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect, as the film showcases the art and its practitioners as instrumental in the liberation of the black community in Brazil in the early 20th Century.
The film does take its share of liberties, of course. Capoeira is as much a performance art as a fighting style in reality, with matches being closer to competitive dancing than sparring, but in any event, martial arts fans hungering for something fresh and original will definitely find something to love in “Besouro”, while Brazilian film lovers are hoping that the movie winds up exposing their film culture to the world.