Written and photographed
by Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
The Indonesian action film Pirate Brothers may be the first in Asia to feature a Capoeira master in its lead role. Verdy Bhawanta is a stunt man and one of the foremost figures of the martial art in his country. The film also stars Robin Shou a long time Asian American actor of Mortal Kombat and Death Race fame. Verdy was recently in Manila to promote the film and conduct live demos of the Brazilian martial art. Pirate Brothers is showing in SM cinemas since November 23, 2011.
Historically it was deemed so dangerous that the Portugese banned its practice inBrazil. It wasn’t until the 1940’s when it was recognized as a Brazilian martial art and was legalized. Verdy (pronounced as Ferdie) is the founder of Capoeira Negaca inIndonesiaand official instructor of Assosiation Capoeira Argola De Ouro International. At the same time he was also cast doing stunt work for Indonesian TV series such as Legend Of Kopinghoo, Wewe Gombel and Jaka Tingkir. His fame rose when he became the endorser of Red Bull which is called Kratingdaeng inIndonesia. Other endorsements include Hemaviton and X mild.
Verdy had been into several martial arts which began from his childhood. He eventually got in Capoeira at the age of 20. His passion for it is very evident in his exhibition here in Manila with Fantasma, the leading Capoeira instructor in thePhilippines. He explained what attracted him to it, “I love martial arts, I learned jiu jitsu, I learned Thai boxing. I love Capoeira because it has music, culture and philosophy. It is unique in movements. Like here you see my family, Fantasma we’re very close. Capoeira is like that. It’s really popular too that’s why people like to see it in the movie. Before Capoeira was rare nowadays a lot of people are doing it.” He shared that this was his fourth trip to Manila having been a guest instructor in the martial arts’ events organized by Fantasma who has also been his guest in Jakarta.
According to him the movements had to be adapted to fit the style of action movies, “The movement of capoeira in movies is kind of different. You need to train for movies also. It’s different when you’re alone. Capoeira doesn’t show a lot of jumps. The real capoeira doesn’t show a lot of jumps. I love to do the tricks.”
He started out as a stunt man following the footsteps of his idols, “I looked for a job as a stunt man because I love movies. Everyone wants to be like Jackie Chan. I also like Tony Jaa from Thailand. I really dreamed to be like them someday so I trained hard. Then from doing stunts I went to doing ads.”
The Brazilian martial art made him more noticeable, “When I first came in they were using Wushu, Chinese Kung Fu. So they noticed I had a different style in capoeira. There were a lot of opportunities especially with advertising.” In one of those shoots for a TV commercial he met Asun Mawardi a brillant director who gave him a break, “He’s not only a director but is also my good friend, my mentor as a man. He inspired me in a lot of things. In acting he helped me a lot especially in his movie. It was his idea to use my first name as the character in the film.”
Working with Robin Shou on Pirate Brothers was also a big influence, “Everybody knows him and I was a big fan of his. Everybody knows Mortal Kombat his movie. When I found out he’s going to take the role I feel really happy. I didn’t know what to say when I first saw him. He’s a big actor but also a good man. He doesn’t act like a Hollywood actor, he’s very humble. I learned a lot of things from him also. He showed me the way because I’m a new comer.”