Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"King Kong ain't got nothing on me!"

Training Day
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Eva Mendes, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray
Released: October 5, 2001
Viewed in theaters: January 9, 2002

Oscar nominations:
Best Actor - Denzel Washington (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Ethan Hawke (lost to Jim Broadbent for Iris)

Before I get into my review, I would like to share a tiny triumph! If you remember, in September,  I posted my favorite movie podcasts. Well, when I tweeted that entry out, I at replied all the podcasts I mentioned. I got a fairly good response. Out of the eleven podcasts (technically ten made my list and one was an honorable mention) I mentioned as my favorite, eight of them liked the tweet. A couple tweeted me back to say thanks. And I got re-tweeted three times by the Action Movie Anatomy podcast (the @AMApodcast twitter handle, plus the two hosts re-tweeted on their own Twitter accounts). But wait, there's more! As if that wasn't enough, I got a little shout out on the AMA podcast. And it was on the episode they did for this movie. I don't always listen to episodes that come out right away. In fact, they recorded their review of Training Day back in September, but I didn't get around to watching the movie and listening to their review until just a couple weeks ago. If I see a movie I want to watch (or re-visit in the case of this one) that one of my favorite movie podcasts reviews, I will put it in my Netflix queue and go back and listen to the episode after I've watched it. So I'm listening to the podcast and at the beginning, one of them mentions that one of their listeners had written about the podcast in a blog and I'm thinking, Hey! I'm a listener and I wrote about their podcast in my blog! It took me a nanosecond later to realize they were talking about my blog! They seemed very appreciative I included their podcast among my favorites. Now they didn't mention my blog (and I was already pretty excited, but I probably would have freaked out if they said the name of my blog!), but like I said, they did re-tweet the original tweet three times, so I am very thankful for that. I'm just glad they talked about it on an episode I listened to...if they had mentioned it in a movie I wasn't interested in, then I may never have heard it! Now it makes me want to go back to the other podcasts I tweeted and see if they said anything! This isn't the first time I've been mentioned in a podcast. I once gave five stars to the Buffy Rewatch and on the episode where they reviewed "Faith, Hope, and Trick", one of the hosts said something like, "Thanks to Sara who gave us four stars." Of course, they could have been talking about any Sara(h), but I'm pretty sure it was me because this was right after I gave them the four star review.

And since I'm on the subject of tiny triumphs, I would like to share another one! Now I posted this on Facebook when it happened, but if you found my blog through another means of social media, this will be new to you. After I posted my review of Stand By Me, I tweeted the review to the cast and Jerry O'Connell liked my tweet! I mean, how cool is that?

Okay, so now that you're caught up with all my gloating (hey, leave me alone! I never have anything to gloat about!), let's get on to the review.

You may notice that I didn't see this movie in the theaters until three months after its release date. Well, technically, I didn't see this movie in a traditional theater. I did see it in a theater and I did see it on a projection screen, but it wasn't at a movie theater. My school screened it (for free - who doesn't love a free movie?) so that's when I first saw it.

Imagine the worst day you've ever had at work. Now watch this movie and stop whining! Did you just see the day of hell Ethan Hawke went through? In this movie, that takes place within a day, Hawke plays Officer Jake Hoyt of the LAPD who is being trained (hence the title) by Alonzo Harris (Washington), a narcotics officer who does not exactly do things by the book. They first meet at a diner in the morning where Alonzo is reading the newspaper. When Jake starts to talk to him, he tells him he's reading his paper and there's an awkward moment because Jake didn't order anything when the waitress came to their table. Once he realizes he's not going to be able to enjoy his morning paper, Alonzo tells Jake to tell him a story. You can tell by the moment Jake meets him, he's pretty intimidated by him and it's about to get a lot worse.

Alonzo has a very interesting way of working. He takes things to the way extreme. When they're busting a Volvo with three white middle-class college kids who have drugs, Alonzo pulls out his gun and scares the everliving sh*t out of them. He makes Jake smoke the weed (which turns out was laced with PCP) they've confiscated, because, after all, he is going to be a narcotics officer and needs to know his stuff. Of course Jake refuses, but after Alonzo stops the car in the middle of the traffic (and points his gun at a driver who angrily honks at him, but then backs off when he sees the gun) and bullies Jake into smoking the stuff when he points his gun at Jake's head. He tells Jake if he was a dealer he would be dead and to never turn down deals on the street. Later, when Jake is complaining that he could be fired for what he did, Alonzo just grins at him and tells him he's old enough to make his own decisions and "It's not like I put a gun to your head!" What an a-hole!

While driving, Jake sees a teen girl in a school uniform being assaulted by these two bums and makes Alonzo stop the car. He runs and fights the guys while Alonzo just stand there and watches. After the two guys are in handcuffs, he tells the girl, who is only fourteen years old, to get out of there and after giving the two men who just attempted to rape the girl, a quick beating he gives them the ultimatum of, "Do you want to go home or do you want to go to jail?" and lets them go. This shocks Jake. He tells his trainer that the girl should give a statement and the two scumbags should be in jail so they don't do this to anyone else. It's a good thing Jake helped stop the girl from being harmed because later in the movie, Jake finds himself in a situation where he's been ditched by Alonzo and is about to get killed by a guy named Smiley. He has found the wallet of the teen girl that she had dropped and Jake had picked up. Turns out the young girl is Smiley's cousin and Smiley wasn't so smiley when he found out Jake had it and accuses of him of doing unsavory things to his cousin. Jake tells him what really happened, but he doesn't believe him. He does call the girl and she lies and tells him she was at school that day, but finally caves in and tells him what really happened and that is what saved his life.

A few well-known musicians are in this movie. Snoop Dogg plays a wheel-chair bound man who is caught with a gun and crack. It is pretty amusing to watch Jake chase a man in a wheelchair down a street and through a shop. Alonzo also gives him the ultimatum of, "Do you want to go home or go to jail?" and makes him spill who he is working for. Snoop doesn't want to be a snitch and Alonzo tells him for every bullet that's used from his gun, that's an extra ten years in prison. He starts releasing bullets from the gun until Snoop finally caves in and gives him a name. They go visit the home of the man who's wife is played by  Macy Gray ("I try to say goodbye and I choke! Try to walk away and I stumble!" - Love that song). Alonzo shows her a fake search warrant and then steals drug money from the house. Also in the movie is Dr. Dre, another narcotics officer who joins Alonzo, Jake, and three other officers in an elaborate plan to steal drug money from an ex-cop/current drug dealer (Scott Glenn) that Alonzo and Jake visit earlier in the movie. Didn't really quite get this part. They end up shooting and killing the ex-cop and Alonzo shoots one of the other officers twice in his vest to make it look like he was shot by the ex-cop. He offers a share of the money to Jake, but being that he is of moral character, he refuses. He also says he's not going to let them get away with this, but Alonzo reminds him that he has PCP in his system and nobody will believe him and he will be the one to get the can for this.

Denzel won his second acting Oscar for this movie, but it was his first win for a lead role. I think there were a few factors that led to his win. Of course he was great in the role. I would say this is one of my top five Denzel performances. I do think a part of his winning is that it was a bit of a makeup Oscar for not giving it to him nine years ago when he was nominated for Malcolm X and lost to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Now we all love Al Pacino, but, well, Denzel should have won that Oscar. It's been awhile since I've seen Malcolm X, but I have heard clips on podcasts and seen clips on YouTube of it and it's really no contest. Also, the fact that Russell Crowe (nominated that year for A Beautiful Mind) seemed to be Denzel's biggest competition also helped. For one thing, Crowe had already won the year before for Gladiator, and, unless you're Tom Hanks that never happens where you win two consecutive Oscars. And Russell Crowe is no Tom Hanks! This was during the time Crowe was being a huge a-hole and was throwing phones at people and cursing at and punching everyone. I remember South Park did a parody of this where Crowe goes around the world to beat people up! I was very anti-Crowe during this time and was rooting hardcore against him. Meanwhile, I was rooting FOR Denzel and when Crowe won the Golden Globe and SAG that year, I may have been hyperventilating just a little! Needless to say, I was very thrilled when he won the Oscar.

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