Netflix and “Narcos”‘ Jose Padilha To Debut BJJ Origin Story “Dead or Alive”

If you think jiu-jitsu has gotten popular recently…

The Hollywood Reporter released an exclusive scoop on what super violent, super popular cartel series Narcos‘ acclaimed director, Jose Padilha, is up to next, and it’s going to bring Brazilian jiu-jitsu to a whole new audience. Padilha and collaborators Netflix are working on Dead or Alive, what sounds like a sprawling period feature piece on the BJJ origin story which will debut on the streaming service.

According to THR:

Dead or Alive centers on two men, Mitsuyo Maeda and Rickson Gracie as the story tells an epic tale that stretches from 1800-era Japan to present day US and Japan as it focuses on two men from vastly different worlds who developed and spread a mixed martial art that became known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Maeda was a sort of martial arts ambassador who travelled from Japan to the Americas to showcase the fighting art, arriving in Brazil via a circus in 1914. At one demonstration he met Carlos Gracie, with the two becoming master and student. Gracie later taught his brothers, eventually creating a family dynasty of MMA practitioners and champions that lasts to this day. Rickson Gracie, Carlos Gracie’s nephew, is a now-retired fighter who won numerous champions and is an inductee to the MMA Hall of Fame.

“This is a film with universal appeal with remarkable real-life characters,” said Silverman in a statement. “Rickson Gracie is one of the greatest fighters of all time and we are honored to share his story.”

Padilho also helmed the 2014 remake of Robocop and the Elite Squad films. The film’s screenplay will be written by Peter Maguire and Padilha. No casting or release date for the project has been announced at this time.

The story of Maeda and Gracie is essential mythology for BJJ fans. A source of debate, lawsuits, and breathless retellings on multiple continents, it involves bit characters ranging from warrior philosophers like Miyamoto Musashi to adversaries like OG Rickson victim Funaki; dramatic details including polygamy, Amazonian superstition, and mysterious illness; and every damned member of the sizable Gracie family. Pretty good TV fodder.


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