Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Is Training Day Based On A True Story?

2001's Training Day, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke (alongside a long list of talented cast members), captivated and stunned audiences with its gritty, brutal depiction of police corruption in West L.A. Police brutality, narcotics, and corruption are just a few of the hot-button political topics put on display by the film.

Since its release, the subject matter of Training Day has become no less important to the average audience member. If anything, scandals regarding police behavior have increased their presence in the public consciousness. The recent international protests in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police are enough evidence of that.

While it is important for Hollywood films like Training Day to display and discuss such events, it's also important that they don't sensationalize or trivialize the topic. This is true even when the events of the film aren't 100% true to life. With that being said, does Training Day fit the bill? At times, the realism of the film might lead a viewer to thinking it's based off of a real event. Is that the case?

Training Day's plot isn't based on anything, but parts of the movie are inspired by real events

The short answer is: yes and no. While the actual series of events that occurs over the course of Training Day are not directly based on anything real, certain aspects of the movie are. According to The Cinemaholic, Denzel Washington's portrayal of Alonzo Harris is based off of a real dirty cop named Rafael Perez.

If that name sounds familiar to you, here's why: According to PBS, Perez was an L.A.P.D. officer involved with the highly publicized Rampart Scandal in the late 1990s. The scandal concerned police misconduct connected to the L.A.P.D.'s anti-gang unit, CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums). Perez himself was caught stealing cocaine from an evidence room and went on to implicate other CRASH officers in exchange for a reduced sentence. Investigators would go on to question many of Perez's allegations, later describing him as a "thief" and a "con."

Aside from that, The Cinemaholic says that much of Training Day's realistic qualities are brought to fruition through director Antoine Fuqua's upbringing in the rougher areas of Pittsburgh. Likewise, Fuqua went out of his way to use real-world L.A. gang members as extras throughout the film. All of this amounts to an air of reality in the movie, even though the film itself is fictional and likely less than 100% realistic.