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DVD Review

DVD cover

Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite)


Starring: Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira and André Ramiro
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 26 January 2009

It is 1997 and hundreds of thousands live in Rio’s notorious favelas - the volatile slums on the edge of the city. Drug trafficking militias have complete control within the slums while the police run their criminal enterprises outside. Being an honest cop in this environment makes you a target for both. The elite BOPE force (State Police Special Operations Battalion) fights to combat drug trafficking, but keeping order has its price and their actions blur the line between right and wrong, justice and revenge. Two of the force’s newest recruits, Neto and Matias, are childhood friends: one is quick on the trigger to maintain order and the other forced to compromise his ideals. Together they are the perfect replacement for outgoing BOPE Captain Nascimento, but alone they may not have what it takes to survive...

Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) is a Brazilian movie from José Padilha and is based on the book by Luiz Eduardo Soares and two former Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE) captains. The film was the winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2008.

The movie starts with two cops who are pinned down by enemy fire. They are running out of bullets and it's almost certain that they will die. The film then skips back to show the two joining the police force and then, at the halfway mark, we rejoin the start of the film with the two about to be killed. The final half of the movie shows the two training to join the BOPE - the most elite unit in the Military Police of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Both cops reasons for joining the BOPE are governed by different motives. One is fed up of the corrupt and dirty nature of the majority of the police - fed up with the way that the public's perception of the law is not how all of the police are. He want to make a difference. The other is a bit of a nutter and doesn't mind getting his hands dirty to see justice done.

The backdrop to the story sees the BOPE preparing to clean the streets of gangs so that the planned visit by the Pope will mean His Holiness will be able to get a good night's sleep in an area usually filled with the sound of gunfire during the night.

Extras include Interview with director José Padilha (29 min, 20 sec) and the movie's trailer.

This is certainly a film worth watching - although it may be a little intense for some.


Nick Smithson

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