Weekly Movie Rec: Elite Squad

Why do all the best foreign movies seem to be about street crime in Brazil? First there was City of God, the classic about life as a young boy growing up on the violence-torn streets of Rio, and now there’s Elite Squad, a series that’s quickly become a cult classic in that country and elsewhere.

But this isn’t about some kid trying to find his way, rather it’s about a hardcore group of police that will stop at nothing to rid the streets of criminals. They’re called B.O.P.E. which if you translate what it stands for into English, it would be the Special Police Operations Battalion. To be fair, I don’t think S.P.O.B. is a great acronym either, but hey, they get the job done.

In the film, they take down drug dealers and corrupt cops alike, often shooting first and asking questions later. It’s a real organization ,which I learned after the fact, but one that’s been condemned by Amnesty International for its brutal tactics against criminals and alleged civilians alike.

Elite Squad shows both sides of the coin, but mainly why they have to be so brutal to combat the crime that overruns the city. I’m told the sequel which has just been released is even better, but I have yet to track it down.

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  1. The sequel, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, is currently showing in theaters in NYC, and it is going to open in other cities through the rest of the year.

    It has also been released in Blu-Ray and DVD in Brazil, so maybe you could import one of those.

  2. Not the best brazilian movie around, but it gets the popularity we brazilians need to get into Hollywood’s business.

    Nonetheless, it’s a good movie. As a side and interesting note, the sequel’s (Elite Squad: The Enemy Within) premiere in Brazil was postponed for two weeks, COINCIDENTALLY falling two weeks AFTER the day brazilians were supposed to vote and elect the new president, new governors and senators.
    Some say (and I don’t doubt it) that the political discussion the sequel brought (in which SPOILER AHEAD the governor of Rio de Janeiro state is one of the many people who profit from drug deal and corrupt cops) could make the result of the voting change by changing what people knew about this war. The movie’s premiere was then postponed and our current governors and senators are elected.
    That’s politics, right?

  3. The brutality and realism of the portrayals by every actor (even minor hoodlums) is staggering. The first film was more about street justice by the special police teams. The second tackled the bureaucracy and corruption that the team dealt with from politicians and at the same time trying to keep the scum flushed out the favelas. Some of the best crime/police films I’ve ever seen.

  4. I like Elite Squad better than the sequel. There were some ideas in the second film that I’m sure they’ve taken from the first, especially the beginning, but the director probably said, if it’s not broken then don’t change it. I loved the brutality of the first film. It’s more toned down in the second but I think the first film focused more on the action and the sequel on the story. But nevertheless, they both are great films.

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