The true story of Manuel Henrique Pereira, who rose to fame in Brazil as a fighter for freedom and a master of Capoeira (a fusion of dance and martial arts), is brought to the screen in this historical drama. In the early 1920s, slavery had been outlawed in Brazil, but that did little to improve the lives of the poor blacks that worked the nation's plantations and were still treated like beasts and not men. Col. Venancio (Flavio Rocha), the owner of a large agricultural operation, is outraged when he learns that one of his overseers, Master Alipio (Macale), has been teaching Capoeira to his employees. Few believe it's a coincidence when Alipio is found dead under mysterious circumstances, and the ghost of Alipio appears before Manuel Pereira (Aílton Carmo), nicknamed Besouro and one of his star students. Alipio urges Besouro to use his talents to lead a revolt against Venancio and others like him so that people may enjoy prosperity and respect; communing with the gods, Besouro hones his skills to levels unknown to his peers, and leads a battle of the poor against the powerful. Besouro was the first feature film from director Joao Daniel Tikhomiroff, who previously established himself directing television commercials.