A Classic as It Was Meant to Be Seen

Training Day shoots its way onto 4K some 20+ years after its theatrical release and reminds us why Denzel Washington is the king. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the drama follows a rookie cop (Ethan Hawke) who spends his first grueling day on the job alongside a Los Angeles narcotics officer (Denzel Washington) and … well, has a rough introductionot.

Fuqua and screenwriter David Ayer craft a hard-boiled thriller with enough twists and turns to induce whiplash. While the film lags in its second half and morphs into a relatively routine cat-and-mouse thriller, Fuqua manages to make even the most unbelievable plot scenarios work in his favor. At one point, a group of guys pins Hawke’s character in a bathtub and place a shotgun to his head, and he only escapes by sheer dumb luck. Yet, you buy the solution because you’re so thoroughly invested in the movie.

That said, what makes Training Day jump off the screen is Washington’s remarkable turn as a corrupt cop whose street-savvy practices ultimately led him down the wrong path. Occasionally, we get a glimpse of the man he used to be before power and cynicism corrupted his mentality. Still, we also come to understand his unorthodox ways. He’s a cautionary tale and perhaps even a dark vision of Hawke’s inevitable future. LA produces no heroes.

Washington won an Oscar for his performance. While he’s better in films like Malcolm X and philadelphia, he makes for one hell of a movie villain. The actor’s atypical mannerisms—the flashy smile, the piercing eyes, the smooth delivery—are on display, albeit turned up a notch and twisted in a manner that makes him both magnetic and terrifying. He’s nothing short of amazing here.

Hawke has the trickier role as the straight man whose job is to react to Washington’s theatrics. The actor does a great job of peppering his performance with enough depth to keep him from falling too far behind his costar. Hawke crafts a character whose attempts to do the right thing contrast sharply with the enclosing corruption. Eventually, he must take up arms to achieve justice. His evolution from a naïve rookie to a hardened soldier is one of the film’s many delights.

Training Day moves at a crisp pace, features punchy dialogue (“To protect the sheep, you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf!”), a surplus of tense moments, nuanced characters, and a captivating plot that keeps viewers on their toes. It’s a knockout.

On 4K Blu-ray, Training Day’s pop cityscapes. This new 2160p HDR10 transfer offers plenty of detail, excellent contrast, and all the trimmings of the high-end format. Purists may balk at the cooler color tones, but it serves the film’s narrative well. This is a dark and moody film — cold, even. The saturated colors make LA even more distinct.

The new Dolby Atmos sound design is crisp, particularly in the numerous shootouts towards the movie’s end. Plenty of immersive sounds during the various city sequences pull you into the film.

Overall, this is an outstanding upgrade for those still clinging to the Blu-ray release. While special features are carryovers from previous releases — a commentary by Fuqua, deleted scenes, trailers, a music video, and a making-of documentary — the picture quality is dynamic enough to warrant a purchase.

Training Day still sizzles 20 years after its initial release, thanks in no small part to Washington. His performance leaps off the screen and strangles you with his ferocity. If you’ve never seen the film, stop what you’re doing and check it out right now. Even if you’ve seen it a million times like me, do yourself a favor and pick up this new 4K release and experience Fuqua’s picture the way it was meant to be seen.

SCORE: 9/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9 equals to “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.