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Film: Training Day

"I'm the Police! I run this shit, you just live here! ... King Kong ain't got shit on me!"
Alonzo Harris

Training Day is a crime film from 2001 directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.

The film focuses on young and naive LAPD officer Jake Hoyt (Hawke) undergoing a single day evaluation by renowned and respected narcotics officer Alonzo Harris (Washington). Alonzo lets Hoyt step into his "office" (car) and takes him for a 24-hour ride through the drug neighborhoods and gang territories of South Los Angeles. Hoyt soon is exposed to the darker side of police duty as he realizes Alonzo's methods make him not so different from the criminals he pursues.

This film is notable for giving Denzel Washington the role that would win him Best Actor. While some people have argued the award was a make-up for him missing out in the past, there's no denying this was still an excellent performance. There are spoilers below.


Tropes used in this film:

  • Academy Award: Denzel Washington finally won Best Actor (in a leading role) for convincingly playing against type, not only as a villain, but for making it look cool. Ethan Hawke was nominated as Supporting Actor.
  • Arc Words:
    • Do you wanna go to jail or do you wanna go home?
    • Also, "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove."
  • Artistic License - Gun Safety: When the Russians kill Alonzo with a hail of bullets, one of their own is in the car right behind Alonzo.
  • Asshole Victim: At the end of the movie, Alonzo himself was killed by the Russian hitmen for killing one of their couriers and not paying up on time.
  • Bad Boss: Alonzo is this to his subordinates. This makes them abandon his ass when the chips are down.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Alonzo's whole master plan doesn't begin, until after he convinces Jake to take drugs - which he would later use for leverage against him.
    • Smiley and his friends talk Jake into showing them his gun. After he takes out all the bullets, then they make their intention to kill him known.
  • Book Ends: Near the beginning of the film, Alonzo and Jake cut-off a bunch of college kids who bought some marijuana. This move is also used against Alonzo in the end of the film, when The Mafiya cut him off and execute him with prejudice.
  • Bowdlerize: From the trailer: "King Kong ain't got NOTHING on me!"
  • Broken Pedestal: Alonzo is this to Jake.
  • Bullet Proof Vest: Subverted, as one of Alonzo's partners takes a bullet to the vest that pierces it and wounds him.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The "snail joke" that Roger tells Jake has shades of this.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The wallet Jake picks up after preventing the young girl from being raped turns out to be very handy when Alonzo abandons him in a house with three dangerous Gang Bangers, the leader of whom turns out to be the girl's cousin.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The actual girl. When she shouts at the attempted rapists about how her cousins would fuck them up, she wasn't kidding.
  • The Chessmaster: Alonzo put a lot of effort into getting the Mafiya off his back.
    Jake: "You've been planning this all day?"
    Alonzo: "I've been planning this all week, son!"
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Alonzo.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Contrived Coincidence: Alonzo leaves Jake to die with exactly the wrong set of gangbangers. (Possibly a subversion as the plan seemed to be to set Jake up if he turned out not to be dirty and perhaps Alonzo remembered [subconsciously?] the name of the gang that the girl had mentioned from earlier and simply selected the easy option to dispose of his problem.)
  • Cool Car: Alonzo's 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo, complete with hydraulics.
  • Cowboy Cop: Alonzo Harris is one of the rare truly villainous examples. He's long become more extreme than even the gangsters he fights, but the reason he's kept around by his superiors (the three wise men) despite his personal corruption is that he catches a lot of bad guys. Alonzo himself claims he is only going after the big fish in the drug trade; he has 38 cases pending trial, 63 active investigations, 350 log cases he has yet to clear, and is supervising five other officers besides Hoyt.
  • Dirty Cop: Alonzo's modus operandi. Observe the scene in which he roughs up Snoop Dogg's character. Later, he casually boasts that he was the one who put Snoop Dogg in a wheelchair. The entire day turns out to be a result of Alonzo's dirty ways, specifically how his attempts at ripping off the Russian Mafiya went bad and he has until the end of the day to make good or be killed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: This is how Smiley, the gang banger that Alonzo hires to kill Jake, feels this way about Alonzo.
    Moreno: Alonzo is a low-down, ruthless vato, eh, but I like that, homes. I like that.
    Smiley: No, that's why I never shake his hand, homes. He don't respect nada.
  • Evil Mentor: Alonzo tries to groom Jake into becoming a Dirty Cop. When Alonzo fails to corrupt Jake, who's willing to stick to his principles, he ultimately sets him up to be killed by a bunch of gangsters.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire movie takes place over about 12 hours.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Alonzo. The DVD synopsis even calls him "twisted but charismatic."
  • Foreshadowing: Two of the first three jobs Alonzo does with Jake involve him stealing money from someone. The next "arrest" turns out to be an excuse to kill a dealer and take his money. Not only that, but Alonzo is in desperate need of money to keep the Russian mob from killing him.
  • Frame-Up: Alonzo and the other Narcotics officers discuss how to do this after Roger is killed.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: All of Alonzo's subordinates dislike being around him.
  • Gang Bangers: Specifically those in The Jungle and the house that Alonzo drops Jake off at near the end.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Jake Hoyt and the other cops of the LAPD. Being policemen doesn't mean they will be nice people.
  • Guns Akimbo: Alonzo combines this with Gangsta Style.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: A central premise of the film. In order to survive in the world of gangsters, the cops have to act more like gangsters. Alonzo and his crew have, at some point, become actual gangsters.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Alonzo makes Jake smoke pipe PCP to prove that he's fully committed to do whatever it takes to survive on the street. In reality, Alonzo is making sure that Jake can't testify against him later without failing a drugs test and getting fired.
  • I Have a Family: Jake shouts this out when he is confronted with three Gang Bangers holding a shotgun to his face. It doesn't work by itself, but it does motivate them to check out whether he's telling the truth about his Chekhov's Gun.
  • Insanity Defense: Mentioned by one of the three wise men when he recaps to Alonzo how an off-screen criminal recently got off this way by pulling a stunt in court that made him seem mentally unsound.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Jake takes Alonzo's badge, saying, "You don't deserve this."
  • I Own This Town: Alonzo feels this way about The Jungle. The Jungle doesn't feel the same way though.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Alonzo tells Jake that if he doesn't start getting with the program, he could end up in the news as a dead cop who died in the line of duty, leaving behind his wife and kid. After Alonzo dies, this is what the TV report says about him.
    • Also, Alonzo loved to say "Do you want to go to jail, or do you want to go home" to the people he would harsh. In the end,Jake repeated the same line to Alonzo after he took the stolen money from him. More subtly, after using the line with most of the criminals he and Jake encounter, we then hear him say it to fellow cops as they plot to cover up a murder.
  • It's All About Me: Alonzo thinks that just because he's a policeman, he can do whatever he wants and whatever he pleases.
  • Jerkass: Alonzo is a rather nasty person who often enjoy roughing up his suspects when he wants to.
  • Kick the Dog: Alonzo makes a habit of doing this.
  • Knight Templar: Alonzo.
  • Large Ham:
    • Alonzo turns his scenery chewing on and off according to his needs.
    • Also the Gang Bangers, homes.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Alonzo leaves Jake to die at the hands of Smiley and his cronies, but Jake manages to get out alive. Following this, Jake not only takes Alonzo's badge, but the money he needs to pay off the Russians.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Alonzo's friend Roger decides to tell Jake a joke. He tells him about a snail that gets thrown off some guy's porch into the backyard and nearly dies. After about a year, the man answers the door and finds the snail, who says "What the fuck's your problem!?" Jake laughs until he sees Roger and Alonzo's serious expressions and realize that it isn't a joke at all. Roger tells him that when he figures the joke out, he'll figure the streets out.
  • The Mafiya: Alonzo is in big with them for attacking and killing an important member of theirs in Las Vegas, and is given until midnight on Tuesday to come up with a million dollars or he will be executed.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Alonzo.
  • The Mistress: Sara is Alonzo's.
  • Mushroom Samba: After Jake takes the marijuana laced with PCP, he gets one of these.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: The majority of this movie concerns Jake's relation to Alonzo as this.
  • Nothing Personal: Smiley says this after he spares Jake's life. In this case, it really isn't; Smiley hates the guy who ordered the hit a lot more than the actual victim, towards whom he harbors no particular ill will beyond a general dislike of cops. It's when the target makes it personal that his life is spared—Smiley has to show his gratitude to the guy who rescued his little cousin from a pair of rapists on the street, and sticking it to Alonzo is an added bonus.
  • Oh No You Didn't: Alonzo says this before his Villainous Breakdown at the end.
  • One Last Smoke: Alonzo lights up a cigarette before being shot by Jake... in the ass. One scene later, he's killed by The Mafiya.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The three Gang Bangers, especially Smiley. It's pretty clear they don't really want to kill Jake, even if he hadn't saved Smiley's little cousin's life, and it's also obvious they don't like Alonzo very much.
  • Rabid Cop: Alonzo.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Played straight with Jake and averted with Alonzo as far as their attitudes.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Jake ends up refusing $250,000 which does not make him popular with the other narcotics officers.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Alonzo thinks he's above the law because he works for the Three Wise Men, who are corrupt cops in high-ranking positions. It's through them that Alonzo gets permission to rob and kill his long time drug contact. However, the alternate ending revealed that it was the Three Wise Men whom sent Hoyt to make sure Alonzo didn't pay off the Russians.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Alonzo more or less quotes the trope near the end of the film.
  • Secret Test of Character: Jake initially interprets some of Alonzo's requests of him as such, when in fact they are nothing of the sort.
  • Shot in the Ass: Jake shoots Alonzo in the buttocks to prevent him from picking up his pistol.
    Alonzo: Ooh, you motherfucker! You son of a bitch! You shot me in the ass!
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Alonzo, who starts slowly but amps it up until he's strong-arming Hoyt into killing and robbing Roger.
  • Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: Hoyt is definitely much closer to the positive end than Alonzo, given his unwillingness to stop dealing with individual crimes and look at the big picture.
  • Spanner in the Works: Jake effectively screws Alonzo's plot to get away from The Mafiya, in the most ironic way possible.
  • Take a Third Option: Towards the end of the film, Hoyt corners Alonzo, and can either kill him, or take him in with no evidence, ruining his own career. He reaches out and takes Alonzo's badge. And the money he needs to pay off the Mafiya.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: According to Alonzo, it's wolves and sheep. An obvious third option would be "sheepdog," which police often use as a metaphor for their profession, but it's never brought up, lampshading Alonzo's idea of justice as being a bigger, badder "wolf".
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Russian Mafia knows how to get the job done. The parallels to The Godfather are not without reason.
  • Title Drop:
    Alonzo Harris: Today is a Training Day, Officer Hoyt.
  • Took a Level in Badass: By the end of the film, its pretty apparent that Jake took one.
  • Training from Hell: Alonzo makes Hoyt do all kinds of shit, including participating in an armed robbery and smoke PCP-laced marijuana at gunpoint...in his first day as a narc.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Alonzo himself at the end.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Some of Alonzo's actions can be interpreted this way. Others, not so much.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Jack comments that the police usually don't enter The Jungle with anything less than a platoon. This is true in Real Life as well: the neighborhood they enter is avoided by the LAPD as effectively un-police-able. Antoine Fuqua specifically approached the gangs to get permission to film there, as the city effectively has no authority there.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Alonzo has 4 kids with his wife, and at least one more with Sara.


To End All WarsFilms of 2000 - 2004 Valentine

alternative title(s): Training Day
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