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Brazilian jiu-jitsu will get its origin story told by José Padilha, the filmmaker behind the police thriller Elite Squad and Netflix’s crime drama Narcos.
Padilha will direct Dead or Alive, which is being made by Netflix, and will write the script with Peter Maguire. Padilha will also produce the period feature with Greg Silverman and his Stampede banner.
Dead or Alive centers on two men, Mitsuyo Maeda and Rickson Gracie, as the story tells an epic tale that stretches from 1800s-era Japan to present-day U.S. 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 traveled 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,” Silverman said in a statement. “Rickson Gracie is one of the greatest fighters of all time and we are honored to share his story.”
He added, “I have been an admirer of José’s for years, and we are honored he has chosen Stampede to collaborate with on Dead or Alive, and to share it with Netflix’s global audience.”
Padilha is the Brazilian director who found international acclaim with his Elite Squad movies. He helmed the 2014 remake of Robocop before going on to being an executive producer and director of Narcos, the gritty and acclaimed true-life drug cartel crime drama made by Netflix.
The deal for Dead or Alive deepens Padilha’s ties to Netflix as he is also the co-creator of the streamer’s Brazilian political crime drama O Mecanismo, which is set to launch its second season.
Padilha is repped by CAA, Anonymous and Cowan Debaets. Maguire is with Lynn Pleshette and Michael Cendejas at the Lynn Pleshette Agency. Silverman is repped by CAA.
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Sterling K. Brown