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Warner Home Video presents
Training Day HD-DVD (2001)

"You got today, and today only, to show me what you're made of."
- Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: May 15, 2006

Stars: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn
Other Stars: Tom Berenger, Harris Yulin, Raymond J. Barry, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray
Director: Antoine Fuqua

MPAA Rating: R for Strong brutal violence, prevasive language, drug content and brief nudity.
Run Time: 02h:02m:18s
Release Date: May 09, 2006
UPC: 012569809451
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The young rookie cop and the experienced partner are the staple of Hollywood cop buddy films. That clichéd paradigm is turned inside out in this crime drama from 2001. Brutal and shocking, it takes your worst fears of the LAPD post-Rodney King and multiplies them by ten. A pair of intense lead performances give the picture even more hard-hitting impact.

Rookie Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is an eager and by-the-book youngster who is assigned for a day of training with 13-year veteran undercover narcotics officer Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Alonzo quickly makes it clear to Jake that they're going to be going into the underbelly of the city, and they're not only going to see some very dark things, they're going to become a part of them. Anxious to please, Jake goes along with the concept, but before the day is out, he has gotten involved in far more than he bargained for, from drugs, rape, and violence to armed robbery, murder-for-hire, extortion, and incredible corruption. Jake must come to terms with how he can make moral decisions that will not destroy his soul, but also manage not to get himself killed in the process.

Washington scored the 2001 Best Actor Oscar for this film, and it was richly deserved. Washington runs completely contrary to his standard type, going deep into an extremely dark character capable of virtually any monstrosity. It works so well partly due to the expectation that a Denzel character will have integrity at his core; the film successfully traffics on that in order to make it clear why Jake, eager to please and impress, is more than willing to go along, at least at first. He has a pleasant and arrogant airiness that turns without warning to vicious violence, flashing rapidly but very credibly from mask to mask. Hawke has never been one of my favorites, but he more than holds his own alongside Washington's devastating performance. The two have an oil and water chemistry that is perfect for this story, and the picture makes the most of it.

The moral haziness of the central story is essential to this tale, and the viewer is frequently unsure who to be rooting for, if anyone. As bad as Alonzo is, the bad guys on the streets are ostensibly even worse. There aren't many clear choices to be made, and Alonzo helps make that obvious to Jake by putting a gun to his head to coerce Jake into smoking pot. But Washington, after milking the moment for all the terror it's worth, breaks into a broad grin that leaves both the viewer and Jake uncertain as to where the line of morality may lie in this dark and vicious world. He's not a cartoony villain either, since he both remembers some of his own youthful idealism, even tipping his hand about it briefly, but also in makes it clear that in his penumbral world one has to become part of the darkness—something of a parallel to the journey of Captain Willard to find the truth about Col. Kurtz, a journey of corruption and self-discovery that cannot lead to anything but doom.

Director Antoine Fuqua has a keen visual sense and a firm command of pacing. The movie grinds along mercilessly, but feels much shorter than its running length. There are several performances by musicians such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Macy Gray that are quite effective, making it quite clear that Fuqua has a great deal of talent in bringing out evocative performances from non-actors. The film is utterly compelling from beginning to end, a descent into hell that will not quickly be forgotten.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Although the previous handful of pictures released on HD DVD thus far have ranged from acceptable to very attractive, Training Day knocks them all out of the park. The 2.40:1 picture is full of fine detail, literally looking like a window into reality. The textures are incredible, from the roughness of Washington's face to the little beads of rain on Alonzo's black Monte Carlo. Color is vivid, black lelels are excellent, and there is virtually no edge enhancement or artifacting visible. There's no comparison with the standard-issue DVD, which looked fine in its day but looks dated now. One can hardly ask for anything better from the new format.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: 5.1 English audio tracks are presented in both TrueHD and DD+. There's also a French channel on the DD+ soundtrack. The audio is solid, and although much of the film is rather center-oriented, there are plenty of moments of excess violence and gun battles that will show off the surround system pretty solidly. It's there tha directionality is most pronounced, and it's a quite effective mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Antoine Fuqua
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music videos
Extras Review: All of the extras from the earlier SD DVD are ported over (and regrettably aren't presented in HD). Fuqua presents a fine commentary. He starts a bit slowly, but once he gets into the mold of doing a commentary, he's quite articulate and informative about what he and the actors were striving for. An HBO First Look featurette includes some better-than-normal information in amongst the puffware. Among the fascinating bits are such matters as the issues involved in shooting on location in the projects, and the insights into getting top performances out of the non-actors. Over 12 minutes of deleted scenes are included, mostly with personality bits that make Alonzo quite a bit more sympathetic, and thus probably aren't missed. A slightly longer alternate ending ties up one loose end from the final cut, but as it runs, the film works better without that additional footage. Finally, there is a pair of music videos and an anamorphic widescreen trailer. A fine package indeed.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

A picture like a punch to the gut, with a pair of superb lead performances, a stunning HD transfer and a good selection of bonus materials. Highly recommended.


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