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Training Day

Training Day
File:Training Day Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Produced by
Written by David Ayer
Music by Mark Mancina
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Edited by Conrad Buff
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • September 21, 2001 (2001-09-21)
Running time
122 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million[1]
Box office $104.5 million[1]

Training Day is a 2001 American crime thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua, written by David Ayer, and starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. The story follows two LAPD narcotics officers over a 24-hour period in the gang-ridden neighborhoods of the LAPD Rampart Division and South Central Los Angeles.

The film was a box office success and earned mostly positive critical appraisal. Washington's performance as a corrupt cop, Detective Alonzo Harris, a departure from his usual roles, was particularly praised and earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 74th Academy Awards. His co-star Ethan Hawke was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as rookie cop, Officer Jake Hoyt.


The film follows a day in the life of a rookie Los Angeles Police Department officer, Jake Hoyt, scheduled to be evaluated by Detective Alonzo Harris, a highly decorated LAPD narcotics officer. In Alonzo's car, the officer sees teenage Mara Salvatrucha gang members dealing drugs in a park. Alonzo confiscates the drugs and tells Jake to take a hit from the marijuana. Jake refuses, but Alonzo puts a gun to his head and says Jake's failure to use drugs could get him killed by a street dealer. Jake relents and smokes the marijuana. Alonzo then tells him the marijuana was laced with PCP. While driving, Jake notices a female high school student named Letty being sexually assaulted. Jake tackles and subdues the attackers, while Alonzo watches. Alonzo tells Letty to leave. Jake objects but Alonzo says that street justice has been served—the two men lost their money and crack, and Letty's cousins may take revenge. Jake finds Letty's wallet on the ground and takes it.

Alonzo and Jake later apprehend a wheelchair-bound drug dealer named Blue and find crack rocks and a loaded handgun on him. In exchange for his freedom, Blue reveals his associate: Kevin "Sandman" Miller, imprisoned at the time. Alonzo takes Jake to Sandman's home in Watts where he uses a fake search warrant to steal drug money from the premises. Sandman's wife, however, notices and calls out to the nearby Crips gang members who open fire. Barely managing to escape, an irate Jake again objects Alonzo's actions, to no avail. The duo then visit Alonzo's Salvadoran mistress Sara and their young son at Baldwin Village. Afterward, Alonzo meets with a group of high-ranking police officials dubbed the "Three Wise Men". They tell Alonzo they know he owes money to the Russian Mafia and suggest that he leave town. But Alonzo insists he can control the situation and gets permission to "cash in on an account". Alonzo later tells Jake that he had to give Sandman's money to the Three Wise Men to obtain an arrest warrant.

Alonzo takes Jake and three other narcotic officers to the home of Roger, a drug dealer and former police officer the duo visited earlier. Using the warrant, they seize several million dollars from underneath the floor of Roger's kitchen, but Jake refuses to take his share of the cash. Alonzo then kills Roger and arranges the scene to appear like a justified shooting. When Jake refuses to lie, Alonzo does an impression of a news reporter saying that a rookie cop was killed in a narcotics raid. Jake responds to the threat by seizing Alonzo's shotgun, prompting the officers to enter a Mexican standoff. Alonzo calms his associates and claims that the LAPD will run a blood test on Jake, which would reveal the PCP in his blood, from the joint he made him smoke earlier. He also offers him to falsify the result in exchange for Jake's cooperation. Jake reluctantly agrees to his machination.

Alonzo drives Jake to the home of a Sureño named "Smiley", allegedly to run an errand. He furtively abandons Jake as Jake reluctantly plays poker with Smiley and his fellow gang members. A tense conversation ensues in which Smiley reveals Alonzo's situation: By midnight, Alonzo must pay $1 million to the Russian mob for killing one of their couriers in Las Vegas or be killed himself. Jake realizes too late that Alonzo has paid Smiley to kill him and is subdued and dragged to the shower. There, the gang finds the wallet dropped by Letty, who is Smiley's cousin. Smiley calls Letty, who confirms that a police officer risked his life to defend her. In gratitude for protecting his cousin, Smiley lets Jake go.

Jake returns to Sara's apartment looking for Alonzo. He attempts to arrest Alonzo, but a gunfight ensues. Jake eventually subdues him, after which the local Bloods gang members and residents begin congregating to watch. Alonzo tries to get the crowd on his side by offering a reward to whoever kills Jake, but they have grown tired of Alonzo's arrogance and allow Jake to walk away with the money. In an attempt to escape via Los Angeles International Airport, Alonzo is killed by the Russian Mafia and the broadcast of his death over the news is hauntingly similar to the one he used to taunt Jake.



Although corruption in LA's CRASH unit had yet to be exposed when Training Day was written, Antoine Fuqua has stated that the Rampart Scandal catalyzed the completion of the film. Denzel Washington also grew a beard in order to emulate the appearance of Rafael Pérez.[2][3] Fuqua wanted Washington's character to be seductive and part of a machine, and not just a random rogue cop. In Washington's own words: "I think in some ways he's done his job too well. He’s learned how to manipulate, how to push the line further and further, and, in the process, he’s become more hard-core than some of the guys he's chasing."[4]

Fuqua also saw Hawke's character as generally honorable but so driven by ambition that he was willing to compromise his principles, particularly when following the charming and persuasive example of Washington's character. He has said that he fought with studio executives who wanted to cut the Three Wise Men scene, thinking it slowed the film. He insisted that the Wise Men scene was pivotal in establishing that at least some of Alonzo's illegal actions were sanctioned by his superiors who regarded unethical behavior as a necessary evil.[5]

Fuqua wanted Training Day to look as authentic as possible, and he shot on location in some of the most infamous neighborhoods of Los Angeles. He even obtained permission to shoot in the Imperial Courts housing project, the first time L.A. street gangs had allowed cameras to be brought into that neighborhood. The crew also filmed in Hoover Block and Baldwin Village.[6] Parts of the film were shot on a dead end street called Palmwood Drive, where the Black P. Stones Blood gang members were seen on the rooftops. Cle Shaheed Sloan, the gang technical advisor of Training Day, managed to get on screen real-life gang members from Rollin' 60 Crips, PJ Watts Crips, and B. P. Stones (a Bloods set). According to Fuqua, the actors and crew ended up receiving a warm welcome from local residents. When he was unable to shoot a scene directly on location, he recreated the locations on sets.[5]

There were also two police officers on hand as technical advisors, Michael Patterson and Paul Lozada (the latter from the San Francisco Police Department). Washington, Hawke and other cast members also met with undercover police officers, local drug dealers, and gang members to help them understand their roles better.[6]


Critical response

The film received mostly positive reviews upon release, and Denzel Washington's portrayal of Alonzo Harris gathered glowing praise from critics.

The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 72% of critics gave positive reviews based on 152 reviews.[7] Roger Ebert gave the film three-out-of-four stars, praising both the lead and supporting actors and the film's gritty, kinetic energy. However, Ebert was bothered by several plot holes and wrote that "[a] lot of people are going to be leaving the theater as I did, wondering about the logic and plausibility of the last 15 minutes."[8]

Box office

The film was released in theaters on October 5, 2001, and was a box office hit, landing at #1. At its second week of release, the film's gross revenue was $13,386,457, landing again in the #1 position. The film stayed in the top-ten box office until the seventh week of release, landing at #12. With an estimated budget of $45 million, Training Day ultimately grossed $76,631,907 domestically and $104,876,233 worldwide.[9]


A soundtrack containing hip hop music was released on September 11, 2001, by Priority Records. It peaked at 35 on the Billboard 200 and 19 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and spawned two hit singles, Nelly's "#1" and Dr. Dre and DJ Quik's "Put It on Me".


Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2001 (notably beating out Russell Crowe's performance as John Nash for A Beautiful Mind), as well as the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain in 2002 for his performance in Training Day. Ethan Hawke was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2001 for the film.


  1. ^ a b "Training Day". Retrieved 2014-08-07. 
  2. ^ Murray Pomerance (2012-02-01). Bad: Infamy, Darkness, Evil and Slime on Screen. SUNY Press. 
  3. ^ Jonathan Markovitz (2011-10-14). Racial Spectacles:Explorations in Media, Race and Justice. Taylor & Francis. 
  4. ^ "Man on a mission". October 2006. Retrieved 2011-10-20.
  5. ^ a b Fuqua, Antoine (director, primary contributor) (June 3, 2002). Training Day DVD (Motion picture commentary). U.S. 
  6. ^ a b "'Training Day' Production Notes". Warner Bros. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  7. ^ "Training Day". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 5, 2001). "Training Day". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  9. ^ "Training Day (2001)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2011-10-20.

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