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The Assailant (2009)

Besouro (original title)
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Based on the life of a legendary capoeira fighter from Bahia, "Besouro" spins a fantastic tale of a young Brazilian man of African descent in search of his mission.
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Cast

Credited cast:
Aílton Carmo ...
Jéssica Barbosa ...
Dinorá / Iemanjá
Flávio Rocha ...
Coronel Venâncio
...
Noca de Antônia
Macalé ...
Mestre Alípio
Ânderson Santos de Jesus ...
Quero-Quero
Leno Sacramento ...
Chico Canoa
Cris Vianna ...
Teresa
Sérgio Laurentino ...
Exu
Geísa Costa ...
Zulmira
Nilton Júnior ...
Cobra-Criada
Servílio de Holanda ...
Genival
Antonio Fabio ...
Adriana Alves ...
Oxum
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Miguel Lunardi ...
Capanga
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Storyline

Based on the life of a legendary capoeira fighter from Bahia, "Besouro" spins a fantastic tale of a young Brazilian man of African descent in search of his mission.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence, sexuality, nudity and brief language | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

30 October 2009 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

The Assailant  »

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Trivia

'Besouro' is the word in Portuguese for beetle. See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Even science is sure this beetle can't fly"
6 August 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Can it really have been more than two decades since ONLY THE STRONG was released? Since then, capoeira has firmly cemented itself into the martial arts scene, especially in film, but while there has been no shortage of kickboxing and MMA flicks since then, I don't believe that any movie between 1993 and 2009's BESOURO has exclusively highlighted the art. Disappointingly, we may need to wait even longer for a genuinely good capoeira vehicle, because while this Brazilian-made film is about as legitimate as it can be, it falls victim to some crazy creative decisions and damaging false advertising.

The story: Following the murder of a capoeira master and community leader in a 1920s Bahia town, his best student (Ailton Carmo) receives a revelation to fight against the oppressors of the Afro-Brazilian community.

All covers to the film that I have seen seem to indicate that this is a martial arts action movie, but it's best to know beforehand that this is not really the case. First and foremost, this is a historical drama that examines the racial injustices of post-slavery Brazilian society, with some fantasy on the side and a dessert-sized helping of action. This isn't not 12 YEARS A SLAVE but there's enough violence, cruelty, and racial slurs to make for some uncomfortable scenes. In the middle of things, the story takes a PAN'S LABYRINTH-esque detour into absurdity, with spirits that only certain characters can see and the lead character turning into a frog and communing with ghosts. It's jarring and inharmonious to say the least, and not written well enough to make any sense at all.

Among the abilities of these spirits is apparent weightlessness, and this demonstrates another quirk among the filmmakers' decisions. The action is choreographed by Hong Kong stunt lord Huan-Chiu Ku, and his involvement is either the best or worst thing about the film, depending on your preferences. Instead of keeping the already fantastical displays of capoeira grounded, Ku brings in the wires to let the characters makes superhuman bounds and fly – literally fly. This is not to say that there are no fights more realistic than that – half of the four exchanges tend to remain on the ground – but nevertheless, it seems like a waste to dilute the potential of such a singular fighting style with wirework.

Despite these criticisms, the acting is fairly strong, some of the locations are beautiful, and even though the screenplay could be a lot tighter, the film is never boring. These positives help earn the film a positive rating, although it's far from the most enthusiastic one I could give. BESOURO is a singular movie, though not for reasons that I would have wanted. I hope that Ailton Carmo sees more work as an action actor, but if I never saw this film again, I would not be heartbroken. Take it or leave it.


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