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Jake Hoyt is tired of his quiet beat in a calm and serene suburb of Los Angeles. With the need for a challenge, he gets himself re-assigned to the narcotics division of the LAPD which enforces some of the cities grittiest areas. The catch is he has only one day to prove himself worthy of this world of undercover police investigation. His trainer is Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris, a 13-year narcotics veteran who has long since blurred the line between legality and corruption. With Harris as his guide, Hoyt will be pulled ever deeper into the ethical mire of Alonzo's logic as the two risk life and career to serve their conflicting notions of justice.
For more about Training Day and the Training Day Blu-ray release, see Training Day Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 1, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Raymond J. Barry, Harris Yulin
Director: Antoine Fuqua
» See full cast & crew
Training Day Blu-ray Review
See Denzel Washington's Oscar-winning performance on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 1, 2008
You gotta control your smiles and cries because that's all you have, and nobody can take that away from you.
Training Day is one of my favorite movies. It's been generally well-received and well-reviewed by critics, and this is one film that I find nearly flawless and above reproach; it's high in both entertainment and shock value as well as showcasing, arguably, Denzel Washington's finest hour as an actor. In fact, he took home an Oscar for best actor in this role. To me, Training Day is infinitely watchable, a movie I can always throw into my DVD (and now Blu-ray) player when nothing else sounds good. I never tire of seeing it, mostly because of the engaging and powerful story of corruption, greed, fear, and the film's look at the fine line between right and wrong and, by the end, good and evil. The film is rather straightforward in its storytelling, but the incredible direction by Antoine Fuqua and the amazing acting of Washington and Ethan Hawke in the primary roles and Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Snoop Dogg, and Eva Mendez as the supporting cast create a story that unfolds like a thrilling, page turner of a novel, something you cannot put down and keep your mind off of until the end.
Training Day is the story of officer Jake Hoyt's (Ethan Hawke, Gattaca) first day on the job as an undercover narcotics agent. He's a former beat cop looking to elevate his career and eventually make detective. His partner is Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington, Crimson Tide), a veteran officer with a nose for the streets and connections around the city. He's got informants, friends, and enemies seemingly on every corner. As the day progresses, the dangerous world of inner-city narcotics unravels before Jake's eyes. By the end of his first day, his training day, his life will be forever changed and everything he thought he knew about his partner will be questioned and challenged, and the day will end with an incredible and frightening turn of events.
Alonzo begins teaching Jake the ways of the streets and the ways of the "new" undercover narcotics officer immediately. The traditional style police work that is all too familiar to Jake takes a backseat to Alonzo's method of teaming up with the small fish and letting them off the hook in hopes of snagging the big ones. Alonzo dispels rumors of the glamour of undercover work, telling Jake how such officers really roll, and the necessity of using brains over brawn. To succeed, an officer must become one with the environment and culture of narcotics. They must learn not only the verbal language used, but also the language of the smell, the taste, and the culture of the street. Total immersion in it is key. From their first bust of college students buying cheap drugs from their VW Beetle, Jake begins to find he disapproves of Alonzo's tactics, but he keeps his mouth shut. After all, this is a new world, and if Jake wants to make detective, he must go along with Alonzo and re-learn all that he thought he knew about busting criminals and cleaning up the streets. When Jake stops a rape in an alley, he'll later discover that by returning to his roots to keep the streets safe may prove to be the most valuable lesson by the end of the day. As the day turn to night, Jake meets people who become more unsavory and dangerous as time moves along, and begins to suspect Alonzo may be more than a cop submersed in the culture of those Jake wants only to bring to justice.
Training Day is a film brilliantly scripted by David Ayer, writer of The Fast and the Furious and S.W.A.T. Nothing against those films, but Training Day represents his crowning achievement to date, a film so gritty and realistic that you have to wonder if Ayer himself once rolled with real life characters like Jake and Alonzo, and we are told in the supplements that he is indeed a resident of the Rampart area of Los Angeles. This film is absolutely brilliantly written, and it feels so darn real it's almost scary. Equally brilliant is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Antoine Fuqua's direction. Like with Ayer's script, Training Day represents the pinnacle of Fuqua's career, whose other credits behind the camera include Tears of the Sun, Shooter, and The Replacement Killers. Fuqua, like Wolfgang Peterson, has become one of my favorite directors based solely on the strength of one film. Peterson's Das Boot made me an instant fan, and I've found I enjoy most of his other films as well. The same holds true for Fuqua. Neither direct with the frequency I'd like to see, but each filmmaker never fails to construct an entertaining and well crafted film. Of course, the brightest light shining from this picture is Denzel Washington. He turns in a performance for the ages, certainly worthy of his Oscar. He's completely believable in his role, acting in such a way that makes the audience believe that he's Alonzo Harris and not Denzel Washington, and for an actor of his caliber and stature, that's almost impossible to do.
Training Day Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray, Training Day looks very good, but doesn't rank among the best on the format. This 2.40:1 filmed image arrives encoded in MPEG-2 and as an early Blu-ray release, assessing this image proves slightly more difficult than normal. Many newer transfers that take advantage of AVC or VC-1 codecs look much better than what we have here, but taking into account the age of the disc, its status as an early release, and the MPEG-2 codec, this one still ranks fairly high overall. It certainly looks good and clearly benefits from the increased resolution compared to my worn DVD copy that I can now view upconverted to 1080p. The increase in quality is high, but definitely not astronomical. The image is truer to life on Blu-ray with more depth, clarity, and detail than the DVD release. Colors are more vibrant and there is more of a lifelike look and feel to the film in high definition. The Blu-ray edition is mostly free of grain and the print is spotless with nary a speck of dirt, hair, scratch, or pop. Daylight scenes fare the best, presenting high detail and depth to the image. In contrast, the indoor scenes, particularly those taking place inside Roger's dark and dreary house, fare the worst. A bit of wavering and slightly less than perfect blacks are the only real blemishes on this disc. Still, while a clear upgrade from the DVD, Training Day slightly falters in comparison to its Blu-ray contemporaries.
Training Day Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like the majority of Warner's current Blu-ray titles, Training Day appears on Blu-ray with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Despite the lack of a lossless option, this is one of the better "standard definition" soundtracks I've heard on Blu-ray. The fine score by Mark Mancina is pleasing to the ear and fills the room with a harmony that is never overshadowed by the urban beats that permeate parts of the film. They are presented with clean, deep, and vigorous low frequencies that embody the style of the music, culture, and attitude of the street. Bass is present in the action as well, pounding with authority as shotgun blasts explode with hard hitting, chest pounding presence. A shoot out near the end of the film, beginning in chapter 23, is particularly impressive. While not as awe-inspiring as the gunfire in 3:10 to Yuma, it's powerful, loud, clear, and immersive. Dialogue flows freely from the center channel, delivering fine, naturalistic tones. Surround channels are used here and there, sometimes practically nonexistent while at other times they're as active and alive as my six month old hell-raising kitten. Mostly used during action, the rear soundstage is nevertheless present with mostly fine ambiance but there is a noticeable lack of activity when they shut down, clearly to the detriment of the film's feel of total immersion in the world of inner-city narcotics. Overall, this is a decent track that would have benefited from a lossless encode and a slightly better sound design.
Training Day Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sadly, this excellent film has been released on Blu-ray with fewer supplements than I was hoping for. First up is a commentary track with director Antoine Fuqua. He provides some very good insight behind the film, his thoughts from scene to scene, and into the brilliance of his actors in this movie. The track is also marred with gaps and slow spots, but fans of the film will be sure to want to give this one a listen. Next is a feature entitled The Making of 'Training Day' (480p, 15:02). It features cast and crew members discussing the story and the characters that live, work, and die in the world portrayed in the film. Also discussed is the new direction for Denzel Washington as an actor, portraying a, in his words, "twisted" character rather than the hero and role model he plays in many of his other films. Next are several additional scenes (480p, 12:33) and an alternate ending (480p, 4:46). Two music videos are also included: Nelly's #1 (480p, 4:10) and Pharoahe Monch's Got You (480p, 4:21). Finally, the film's theatrical trailer, presented in 480p, concludes this all too short list of supplements.
Training Day Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There are many reasons to love Training Day. It's a fine picture that moves along at a pace that never progresses the story along too quickly or too slowly, allowing the lessons of Jake's first day on the job to sink in gradually while the audience slips into his shoes as he makes his choices over the longest day of his life. By the end, the audience has witnessed, in this reviewer's opinion, one of the greatest cop dramas ever committed to film and also one of the finest performances ever committed to film. Training Day is certainly not a film for everyone, however. It's gritty, dirty, and scary, much like the streets Alonzo and Jake frequent throughout the film. Nevertheless, this standout film delivers, and it's a welcome addition to the Blu-ray family. However, despite the wonderful movie contained herein, the disc is not perfect. Despite video and audio quality that suffice, there is plenty of room for improvement. Of all their current Blu-ray discs, Training Day is perhaps the film I'd most like to see re-issued by Warner Brothers. There's definitely room for improvement, beginning with a lossless soundtrack, and this film screams for a more comprehensive set of extras. For the fans of this film, this is the best edition we're likely to see of for quite some time. As such, this disc is recommended to admirers of the movie and those looking for a hardcore, brutal, and take-no-prisoners good cop, bad cop flick.
Training Day: Other Editions
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