Training Day HD DVD

Training Day is about a bad cop. A very bad cop who has convinced himself that if he can do good in questionable ways and get a little action on the side for himself (not to mention for a few bad cop buddies), that’s the name of the game. When it comes to breaking in a rookie, however, he gets more than he bargained for.

The plot involves a lot of very nasty people, few of whom you’d choose to spend time with. The only remotely appealing character is Ethan Hawke’s rookie, and even he makes some very bad choices, saved only by a twist in the plot that gives coincidences a bad name.

If you like the gritty underworld genre, and haven’t yet seen Denzel Washington’s Best Leading Actor winning performance, Training Day is definitely worth your time. I can’t say it was my cup of Earl Grey, but I did find myself so absorbed in the movie that I didn’t spend much time humming its high definition video.

Not that there would have been anything wrong with that. This is another fine HD DVD transfer from Warner. It would be a reference quality disc if not for the fact that while it’s sharply detailed most of the time, there are a number of scenes that look a little softer than average. That may be in the source elements, but for whatever reason its picture quality is just a little below the standard set by such discs as Phantom of the Opera, Unforgiven, The Chronicles of Riddick, and 16 Blocks.

Nevertheless, while the film is often very dark, the images are never obviously noisy. Considering the subject matter, director Antoine Fuqua chose a relatively straightforward style, avoiding the odd color and excess grain that many filmmakers use today because it’s easy to add in postproduction. This is a cleanly-shot film and a very clean-looking HD DVD.

While there is a 5.1-channel Dolby TrueHD track here, the first HD DVD players will only play back TrueHD in 2-channel mode. I listened to the Dolby Digital+ track, as I have across the board, so far, on all the HD DVDs I’ve auditioned. (The DD+ track does go through several transitions on its way to the digital output of my Toshiba HD DVD player’s digital output: first converted to linear PCM, then converted to DTS!).

The movie does lack the sort of soundtrack you’ll reach for when demonstrating your system to friends. There isn’t a lot of the sort of noisy goings-on that you find in conventional action movies (apart from some gunplay). The music does add considerable atmosphere (and most of the deep bass), but isn’t particularly memorable. But nothing sticks our here as fodder for criticism. It’s a good soundtrack that just doesn’t call particular attention to itself.

There’s also an alternate ending that may be viewed only by itself as one of the special features (not spliced into the film). And it may be viewed only in standard definition, like all the extras. It merely adds an final confrontation without making any fundamental change in how the story ends.

Video reviewed on a Yamaha DPX-1300 DLP projector, 78-inch wide Stewart Studiotek 130 screen, and Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player set to 1080i. Audio reviewed using the player’s digital audio output into on an Anthem D1 pre-pro, Parasound Halo amp, and Revel F52/C52/M22/B15 loudspeakers.