This review was commissioned by Verb Abrams over on my Ko-fi account.

I have no clue what place Dois na Luna has in Brazilian film history. As an English speaker whose only grasp of Portuguese is just half-understood words that overlap with Spanish, I watched this film without subtitles and with basically no idea about the particulars of the plot. The overall shape of it is recognizable though. Ted Boy Marino, played by the wrestler of the same name, gets discovered to have a natural knack for combat and trains to rise through the ranks and become a champion pro wrestler. Along the way there’s shady figures, gangs, a kidnapping, and a bunch of hijinx. As a film, perhaps the best aspect of it all is really Renato Aragão, who plays Ted Boy’s comedic sidekick in this. Renato’s a real expressive physical comedian, clearly well versed in slapstick, and I appreciate all his little bits, bumbling through this sports/action/comedy.

All that being said, there’s some real value here from the pro wrestling perspective.

Specifically, it’s a glimpse into the world of 1960s Brazilian pro wrestling featuring some of its top stars. Obviously, there’s Marino in the lead role, but of note too is his antagonist Lobo, played by Robert Guilherme. When the film focuses on the wrestling, the language barriers all come crashing down, and one of the most universal artforms in the world speaks its own truths. It’s really sort of stunning how crystal clear the wrestling bits of this are compared to everything else. We even get build up matches that showcase both Marino’s babyface style as well as Lobo’s more brutal heel role, all of it wonderfully building to the climactic showdown between the two.

Luckily, there’s big chunks of this film purely devoted to the wrestling. We find it in sparring sessions in the gym as well as in the arena, even sprinkled into more narrative driven action scenes. Every time we catch wind of it, it’s incredibly exciting.

GIF-ed by Joseph Montecillo

Assuming that the wrestling style in the film mirrors how these workers wrestled in real life, Marino seems to favor a very clean tecnico-leaning style of work here. It’s a lot of very traditional chain wrestling centered around momentum, countering holds, and bumping the baddies around him. There’s that great monkey flip he showcases in that first skirmish of the movie, but there’s also a bunch of stunningly clean headscissor takedowns that can’t help but recall the finest of Mexican luchadores. Structurally, in this film at least, we see him utilizing repeated takedowns and offense to build offense that takes his opponents of their game. He’ll often string together those headscissors or otherwise his standing dropkick to stun and bump the heels.

GIF-ed by Joseph Montecillo

As cool as all of Marino’s offense looks in this movie, I think the real show stealer is actually Lobo. Roberto Guilherme’s heel work is absolutely impeccable. He’s not only petty and rude with his cheating tactics, but his attacks are so clearly meanspirited and violent. He’s a real suffocating type heel, overwhelming opposition with constant striking, cheap shots, and violently throwing them down to the mat or even to the floor. Guilherme absolutely nails heel work that feels vibrant and rich in 1968 and probably even now in 2024.

We get a lot of action between Guilherme and Marino to fill out the climax in the last half hour of the movie. It’s never a full match we see, and it’s cut between shenanigans the other characters are doing, but what we do get is pretty riveting. Again, Guilherme’s laying in his strikes and overall being an absolute bastard to Marino. The latter’s selling in between rounds really puts over the damage he’s taking while drawing all the right kinds of sympathy as well. And when Marino starts to turn the tides and gets Guilherme literally up against the ropes? Even through grainy 360p footage, the fear in Guilherme’s eyes speaks volumes.

A truly invaluable document of a scene that we in the English speaking wrestling fandom know so little about. Worth combing through for the action footage alone.

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