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Fact-Checking the ‘Training Day’ King Kong Speech

It won Denzel Washington an Oscar — but is it accurate?

Getty Images
Getty Images

Training Day is a movie about a rookie police officer (Jake, played by Ethan Hawke) who spends the day with a successful, talented police detective (Alonzo, played by Denzel Washington) who is revealed to actually be a corrupt, psychotic police detective. It’s a wonderful movie, one that is fat with nervous and uncomfortable energy as Alonzo slowly circles the noose around Jake’s neck without Jake realizing it. The movie ends with a confrontation between Jake and Alonzo that, like the Always Be Closing scene in Glengarry Glen Ross or the Funny Like a Clown scene in Goodfellas, has aged into lore. It’s turbulent. It’s engaging. It won Denzel Washington an Oscar. But is it … true?

Let’s fact-check it.

These are the names of the people involved in the scene and also some important bits of information for context:

Alonzo Harris: A veteran police detective in the narcotics unit. He is supposed to be evaluating whether or not Jake Hoyt has what it takes to serve in his unit. And in a manner of speaking, I suppose that’s exactly what Alonzo does. It just turns out that Alonzo’s unit is full of wackjob criminals posing as police.

Jake Hoyt: A younger cop hoping to join Alonzo’s squad because he thinks it’ll fast-track him on his way to becoming a detective. He ends up getting pressured/tricked into drinking, doing drugs, violating the civil rights of a man in a wheelchair, nearly getting killed on two separate occasions, and serving as an accessory to armed robbery and murder.

Bone: A neighborhood tough guy affiliated with a local gang.

First Bit of Information: Prior to the scene that’s getting fact-checked, Jake and Alonzo got into a massive fight that began with a shootout between the two of them inside of an apartment and ended with Jake diving onto the hood of Alonzo’s car as Alonzo tried to drive away with a bag full of money. Jake caused Alonzo to crash the car, jumped off the hood, punched him in the face a few times, and is now holding him at gunpoint. Jake is so upset because …

Second Bit of Information: Alonzo tried to arrange to have Jake killed by some Mexicans when it became clear that Jake was not comfortable with the idea that Alonzo’s unit had just killed and robbed a high-profile drug dealer named Roger. In addition, Alonzo had worked it in such a way that, had he chosen to, Alonzo could’ve easily pinned the murder and robbery on Jake. Alonzo went through all of this trouble because …

Third Bit of Information: Alonzo had beaten a guy to death on a recent trip to Las Vegas (this happened before the movie starts), and it turned out that the guy was connected to the Russian mafia, and so they told Alonzo that he had until the end of that day to pay them $1 million or they were going to kill him. That’s the money that he stole from Roger. And it’s the money that Jake has just taken back from Alonzo after the car crash and punching. Now Alonzo is pleading with Jake to give him the money back and to let him leave.

The Scene

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

ALONZO (to Jake): It ain’t like stepping on ants, Jake.

Fact check: Accurate. Alonzo is referring to killing people here. Killing a person is not like stepping on ants. I have stepped on several ants. I felt zero remorse. However, one time a spider that had built a web near my house and lived there for a few days disappeared and I was heartbroken when I realized he probably got eaten by a bird. I could barely handle coping with the idea that I was somehow responsible for the spider’s death (I figure if I’d have knocked the web down when I first saw it he would’ve moved to a different, less open area.) I can’t even imagine the kind of anguish that comes with killing a human.

ALONZO (to Jake): It takes a man to kill.

Fact check: Inaccurate. It does not take a man to kill.

ALONZO (to Jake): You man enough to kill, Jake? [Points at his forehead.] Hit me right there. Get me, Jake. Get me. Hit me. Hit me. You can’t do it.

Fact check: Accurate. Jake cannot do it. (Though there’s at least a small chance that he simply does not want to. Jake does not appear to be that big a fan of shooting people.)

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

ALONZO (to the crowd): Somebody drop this fool for me.

[Bone walks up and puts a gun down on the floor near Alonzo.]

BONE (to Alonzo): You got us twisted, homie. You gotta put your own work in around here.

Fact check: Likely inaccurate, as a few minutes earlier Jake was being held down in a bathtub by some Mexicans that Alonzo had paid to kill him. (Jake managed to escape through a remarkable coincidence: Earlier in the movie he prevented a rape, and the would-be victim was revealed to be cousin of one of his would-be murderers. They found her wallet in his pocket right before they were going to shoot him.)

ALONZO (to Bone): Alright. It’s like that, Bone.

Fact check: Accurate. It is like that.

BONE (to Alonzo): It’s like that.

(See? I told you.)

ALONZO (to Jake): Play the player, pimp the pimp. I don’t think you’ll shoot me, nigga.

JAKE (to Alonzo): Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

ALONZO (to Jake): I don’t believe you got it in you, Jake.

Fact check: Accurate. Alonzo does not think Jake will shoot him. Jake wouldn’t shoot Roger earlier, so why would he shoot Alonzo, is probably what Alonzo was thinking.

ALONZO (to Jake): I’ma get that gun, and then I’ma get that money. And you ain’t gonna do a damn thing cuz you ain’t gonna shoot no cop in the back, are you?

Fact check: Extremely inaccurate. Alonzo will not get that gun, Alonzo will not get that money, and Jake will shoot a cop in the back(side).

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

JAKE (to Alonzo): Don’t do it.

ALONZO (to Jake): You know what they give you for that? The gas chamber.

Fact check: Somewhat accurate. Murdering a police officer is a capital felony, and it is punishable by death.

ALONZO (to Jake): You know what the gas chamber smells like? Pine oil.

Fact check: Possibly inaccurate. Research* was inconclusive.

*Googling “What does the gas chamber smell like?” and then slamming my computer shut.

ALONZO (to Jake): That’s where you’re headed, boy. To pine-oil heaven.

Fact check: Likely inaccurate. It just seems unlikely that Pine-Oil God would let Jake into pine-oil heaven after murdering someone, though I can’t say that for certain, as I am not very familiar with the pine-oil bible.

ALONZO (to Jake): I’ma get that gun, and then I’ma get that money. I don’t believe you got it in you, Jake. I’ma go get it right now.

Fact check: Once again, this is extremely inaccurate. Alonzo will not get that gun, Alonzo will not get that money, and Jake will shoot him.

[Alonzo bends down to get the gun.]

[Jake shoots Alonzo in the butt cheek.]

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

ALONZO (to Jake): Oh, shit! Ahhh. You motherfucker!

Fact check: Likely accurate. Jake is a father, and he and his wife appear to enjoy each other’s company, so I imagine they’ve had sex since the baby was born.

JAKE (to Alonzo): The next one will kill you.

Fact check: Likely inaccurate. Jake has proven himself not to be the killing type.

ALONZO (to Jake): Grrrrr, son of a bitch. You shot me in the ass!

Fact check: Very accurate. Jake did shoot him in the ass.

ALONZO (to Jake): OK, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. OK, OK. OK. Alright, look. Come on, Jake. I need the money. Gimme the money, Jake. Gimme the money, please, Jake. Gimme the money!

Fact check: Very accurate. Alonzo does need that money, as he knows that if he doesn’t use it to pay the Russians they will execute him.

JAKE (to Alonzo): It’s not gonna happen.

Fact check: Extremely accurate. It will not happen.

ALONZO (to Jake): What are you gonna do? You’re gonna jack me now? You’re gonna take my own money from me?

Fact check: Somewhat accurate. Jake does take the money, but not to keep. He plans to use it as evidence to prove Alonzo’s corruption.

JAKE (to Alonzo): I told you, that’s my evidence. You wanna go to jail or you wanna go home?

ALONZO (to Jake): I wanna go home, Jake. Come on. Gimme the money, let me go home.

JAKE (to Alonzo): Yeah?

ALONZO (to Jake): Yeah.

JAKE (to Alonzo): You wanna go home?

ALONZO (to Jake): Yeah, let me go home, Jake. Come on. Gimme the money. Gimme the money, let me go home. Let me go home, Jake. That’s right. Come on, Jake.

Fact check: Accurate. Alonzo does want to go home, but only if he can take the money with him, which Jake will not allow.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

[Jake snatches Alonzo’s badge off.]

JAKE (to Alonzo): You don’t deserve this.

Fact check: Accurate. He does not deserve it.

ALONZO (to Jake): OK, you motherfucker.

Fact check: Once again, likely accurate on the charge of Jake being a literal motherfucker.

[Bone walks up and picks up the gun that he’d set down on the floor for Alonzo earlier.]

BONE (to Jake): Jake, go ahead and bounce, homie. Get up outta here. We got your back.

Fact check: Extremely accurate. Bone et. al. do have Jake’s back. He leaves the scene without worry of an attack from the rear.

ALONZO (to Bone): What?

BONE (to Alonzo): It’s like that.

Fact check: Accurate. It is like that.

ALONZO (to Bone): Oh no you didn’t.

Fact check: Inaccurate. He did.

ALONZO (to Bone, then to Jake, then back to Bone, then back to Jake): Wait a minute. No you di — [To Jake:] Aye, aye, Jake. Aye! Jake! Jake! Jake! Come back here! Jake! [To Bone:] You disloyal, fool-ass, bitch-made punk. [To Jake:] Jake! I need my money! Jake!

Fact check: The only part of this that can be verified is that Alonzo needs that money. I can’t speak to the validity of Alonzo’s claims that Bone is a disloyal, fool-ass, bitch-made punk. By all accounts, he seems like a stand-up guy, present circumstances notwithstanding.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

ALONZO (to the crowd): Aw, you motherfuckers. Haha, OK. Alright, I’m putting cases on all you bitches.

Fact check: Likely accurate. Alonzo had no problem shooting Roger in the chest despite Roger posing no immediate threat to him. I don’t think it would bother Alonzo too much to hit a bunch of people he was upset at with various low-level charges.

ALONZO (to the crowd): Huh. You think you can do this shit? Jake! You think you can do this to me?!

Fact check: Accurate. They do think they can do that to Alonzo, which is why they are doing it to him.

ALONZO (to the crowd): You motherfuckers will be playing basketball in Pelican Bay when I get finished with you. SHU program, nigga! Twenty-three-hour lockdown! I’m the man up in this piece! You’ll never see the light of day!

Re: basketball: Likely accurate. Pelican Bay is a California state prison.

Re: SHU program: Very accurate.

Re: 23-hour lockdown: Inaccurate. Pelican Bay currently operates on a 22-hour lockdown day.

Re: no more light: Likely inaccurate. It seems unreasonable that anyone at Pelican Bay, even the most serious of offenders, would ever go the entirety of the rest of their lives without seeing sunlight again.

ALONZO (to the crowd): Who the fuck you think you’re fucking with!? I’m the police! I run shit here! You just live here!

Fact check: Somewhat accurate. He is the police (though not for long), but he does not appear to run shit. If anyone is in charge of running shit in that particular moment, it’s Jake. Second place is Bone. Last place is Alonzo.

ALONZO (to the crowd): Yeah, that’s right! You better walk away! Go on walk away cuz I’ma burn this motherfucker down!

Fact check: Inaccurate. He does not burn anything down.

ALONZO (to the crowd): King Kong ain’t got shit on me!

Fact check: Inaccurate. I have to assume that Alonzo would’ve been no match for King Kong, nor would Bone have been, nor the Russians, nor anyone else who appeared in Training Day, really.

ALONZO (to himself): That’s alright. That’s alright. Shit. I don’t give a fuck.

Fact check: Inaccurate. He appears to give a great many fucks. One million fucks, perhaps, as that is the amount of money he has just lost.

ALONZO (to the himself): I’m winning anyway. I’m winning. I’m winning any motherfucking way. I can’t lose.

Fact check: Inaccurate. He is not winning. He is losing. He is super-duper losing.

ALONZO (to himself): Shit, you can shoot me, but you can’t kill me.

Fact check: Accurate on the part where he says he can be shot, inaccurate on the part where he says he can’t be killed by gunshots, as that exact thing happens to him minutes later when the Russians find him.

ALONZO (to himself): Aw, shit. [Laughs.] Ah, what a day. What a motherfucking day.

Fact check: Given that he is using the term “motherfucking” in a figurative sense, then yes, it has been quite a motherfucking day.

An earlier version of this piece incorrectly referred to the “shoe program” at Pelican Bay; it is the SHU, or security housing unit, program.