Capoeira in movies: the best 10 scenes

From historical movies to highly choreographed martial arts fighting scenes, a few movie directors and actors have taken up the challenge to bring this beautiful and complex art on the large screen. Here we have chosen some of the best ones, so if you’re looking for some capoeira action on the movie screen beyond “Only the Strong”, read on and let us know which ones are your favorites.

Capoeira scenes in movies can be classified into three broad categories of capoeira:

  1. capoeira in its cultural context (Besouro, Cordao de Ouro)
  2. capoeira as a fight technique used in martial arts movies (Ong Bak, Tekken)
  3. capoeira used in modern and mixed cultural contexts (Ocean’s 12, Step Up 3D)


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Capoeira in its cultural context


Besouro (2009)


“Besouro” (released internationally with the title “The Assailant”) is the first movie with international distribution in which capoeira plays a central role in the story. Based on the life of Besouro Magangà in Bahia in the 19th century, the movie has several great capoeira scenes.


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Cordao de Ouro (1973)


The first fiction movie ever to feature capoeira shot in Brazil in the early 1970’s. In this scene Mestre Camisa (as the son of Oxala) plays with Mestre Nestor Capoeira and baptizes him.


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Capoeira in Martial Arts Movies


Ong Bak (2003)


One of the best martial arts movies of all times, it also has one of the most riveting and best directed capoeira fighting scenes.


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Bloodsport 2 (1996)


Don’t know about those pants… but great meia lua de compasso!


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Undisputed III – The Redemption (2010)


The increased popularity of mixed martial arts, has brought capoeira back on the stage again. Lateef Crowder is back with a great choreographed fight that highlights some of the winning capoeira tactics in MMA, and watch out for that a mean tesoura.


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Capoeira in contemporary movies


Ocean’s 12


Spectacular scene, if a tad incredible, it highlights the dexterity and finesse of capoeira angola.


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Step Up 3D


Yes, romance and capoeira can go together!  The actors trained at the ACC with Instrutor Mucuiu’ for this scene.


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City of Lost Souls


Thugs and street fighting are part of capoeira history, here is a modern version.


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Catwoman (2004)



Halle Berry trained capoeira for this role, you can see it in this catfight with Sharon Stone as Laurel Hedare.