Elite Squad - poster

Elite Squad

Country: Brazil
Release Date: October 5, 2007
Genre(s): Action/Drama
Director: José Padilha
Cast: Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira, André Ramiro ...
Awards: Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards: Silver Condor - Best Foreign Film; Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Bear

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Elite Squad

Elite Squad - sceneThe Elite Squad (Portuguese: Tropa de Elite) is a 2007 Brazilian film directed by José Padilha. The film is a semi-fictional account of the BOPE (Portuguese: Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais), the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police. It is the second feature film and first fiction film of Padilha, who had previously directed the documentary Bus 174. The script was written by Bráulio Mantovani, based on the book Elite da Tropa by sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares and two former BOPE captains, André Batista and Rodrigo Pimentel.

The Elite Squad was an outstanding commercial success, and became a cultural phenomenon in Brazil. The film won the Golden Bear at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. Its sequel, The Elite Squad 2, released in Brazil on October 8, 2010, holds industry records in the country for ticket sales and grossed revenue.


In 1997, before the visit of the pope to Rio de Janeiro, Captain Nascimento from BOPE (Special Police Operation Battalion) is assigned to eliminate the risks of the drug dealers in a dangerous slum nearby where the pope intends to be lodged. Captain Nascimento is trying to find a man to replace him because his wife is pregnant and he intends to quit the command and become a trainer of the new recruits. Meanwhile, the two idealistic friends Neto and Matias join the Military Police force expecting to become honest policemen and fight the criminals. However, they see only corruption, lack of competence and stupid bureaucracy in the Military Police, and after a serious incident in the Morro da Babilônia, they decide to join the BOPE. The lives of Capitain Nascimento, Neto and Matias are entwined along the next months, first in the tough training period and then in action against drug dealers…


  • ABC Cinematography Award: Best Sound: Leandro Lima, Alessandro Laroca and Armando Torres Jr.
  • Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards: Silver Condor – Best Foreign Film, Spanish Language.
  • Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Bear: José Padilha.
  • Cinema Brazil Grand Prize: Best Actor: Wagner Moura; Best Cinematography: Lula Carvalho; Best Director: José Padilha; Best Editing – Fiction: Daniel Rezende; Best Make-Up: Martín Macías Trujillo; Best Sound: Leandro Lima, Alessandro Laroca and Armando Torres Jr.; Best Special Effects: Phil Neilson and Bruno Van Zeebroeck; Best Supporting Actor:Milhem Cortaz.
  • Lima Latin American Film Festival: Audience Award: José Padilha; El Cine Second Prize: Best Film.
  • Park City Film Music Festival: Gold Medal for Excellence Best Impact of Music in a Feature Film – Jury’s Choice: Pedro Bromfman.
  • Prêmio Contigo Cinema: Audience Award – Best Actor: Wagner Moura; Audience Award – Best Film; Audience Award – Best Supporting Actor: André Ramiro; Jury Award – Best Director: José Padilha; Jury Award – Best Motion Picture; Jury Award – Best Screenplay: Bráulio Mantovani, José Padilha, Rodrigo Pimentel, André Batista and Luiz Eduardo Soares; Jury Award – Best Supporting Actor: André Ramiro.
  • Prêmio Qualidade: Best Actor: Wagner Moura; Best Director: José Padilha; Best Film; Best Supporting Actor: Caio Junqueira; Best Supporting Actress: Maria Ribeiro; Most Promising Actor: André Ramiro.
  • São Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards – APCA Trophy: Best Director: José Padilha; Best Editing: Daniel Rezende


Data Sheet

Directed by: José Padilha
Produced by: José Padilha and Marcos Prado
Written by: Bráulio Mantovani, José Padilha and Rodrigo Pimentel
Starring: Wagner Moura, Caio Junqueira, André Ramiro …
Music by: Pedro Bromfman
Cinematography: Lula Carvalho
Editing by: Daniel Rezende
Release date: October 5, 2007
Running time: 120 minutes
Country: Brazil
Language: Portuguese

Amazon’s review

Though José Padilha’s action-packed crime drama won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, a steady stream of controversy and acclaim has followed in its wake. Some critics have even accused the director of promoting fascism, while Padilha (Bus 174) contends that Elite Squad argues against police brutality. Like Vic Mackey, who heads up The Shield‘s LA strike force, narrator Captain Nascimento (Wagner Moura) heads up Rio de Janeiro’s Police Special Operations Battalion (BOPE). It’s 1997, the Pope arrives for a visit in six months, and BOPE will stop at nothing to reduce crime in the favelas. The way they see it, drug traffickers have them outmanned and outgunned, so there’s no point in playing by the rules. With their black uniforms and berets, the Skulls certainly cut an imposing figure. New police recruits Neto (Caio Junqueira) and aspiring lawyer Matias (André Ramiro) turn to Nascimento when their efforts to operate by the book only lead to frustration (Matias was inspired by author/law student/BOPE member André Batista). The burned-out captain sees his salvation in the two childhood friends; as soon as he selects a replacement, he plans to leave the force and spend time with his pregnant wife. Nascimento may find his man, but the ending is far from happy. Brutal and bleakly funny, Elite Squad depicts 1990s Rio as Danté’s Ninth Circle of Hell. Nonetheless, Brazilians made the film an even bigger sensation than City of God, to which it serves as an essential companion piece. –Kathleen C. Fennessy

Amazon Customer Reviews

Panned by critics, loved by those who understand the situation in Brazil By Don Federico

I loved this movie. It was largely panned by American critics, never even making it to American theaters, except for maybe one or two in NYC (none in LA).

The film provided a valid, complex viewpoint of some of the problems that modern-day Brazil faces. If you look at comments of reviews of this film on major publications’ web sites (like NYTimes, LA Times, etc), you will see that the overwhelming majority of comments are from Brazilians who: 1) loved the movie, and 2) stated that the movie got the situation right.

The film shows the point of view of patriotic police officers that want to do right by their country, although they are confounded by their fellow police officers, the well-armed drug dealers, the bought-off constituents of the slums (favelas), as well as the leftist middle class that excoriates the police on the one hand for its heavy handed tactics as well as its corruption while at the same time sustaining the local drug lords by buying their product.

It is the film’s viewpoint towards the leftist middle class that I think doomed the film to never get a proper showing in the US. That, and the fact that this “honest” police force feels obligated (and in the eyes of some in the viewing public, justified) to use extra-judicial, heavy handed tactics to get results in fighting crime.


Riveting Movie, I Highly Recommend It By Colin P. Lindsey

Wow, what a great movie! Let me first say that I am extremely picky about movies and have found myself watching fewer and fewer as time goes by, mostly because most movies now seem to be boring and pointless. So when I do, on a rare occassion, enjoy a movie, for me it is unusual. I didn’t just enjoy this movie though, I loved it. In fact, I did that rarest of things I watched it twice!

This movie focuses on the efforts of an elite Brazilian police unit in Rio and their efforts to reduce drug-related crimes. It is violent, compelling, entertaining and a first-class movie experience. Why? Because this movie avoids all the stereotypes of other cops versus drug-dealer movies, especially the simplified good guys vs. bad guys Hollywood take. It is also surprising and rewarding to see the drug war through the eyes of Brazilian culture as opposed to an American view.

The movie focuses on two young policemen, their experiences in the corrupt local police force, and their progression into joining the ranks of BOPE, the “Elite Squad” of the movie title. It is narrated by Captain Nascimento, the leader of a BOPE squad who is desperately trying to find a replacement for himself because after ten years in BOPE the stress and tension is causing him severe physical reactions, and he longs to spend time with his wife and newly born son.

This movie is AWESOME for two reasons I believe. One is that the voice of Nascimento is compelling and beautifully haunting; just listening to him speak in Portuguese as the movie plays will send shivers and chills through your body. Do not ever, ever, get a dubbed version of this movie, it would destroy the magic here. The second reason is that the movie is so highly realistic. All the characters are complex, three-dimensional, believable human beings, and their actions, reactions, and motivations are all perfectly in sync with their characters. There are no wrong, silly, or false notes played in this movie, it all rings true. The drug-dealers (trafficants) and believable, the corrupt police force is ultra-believable because the movie shows why they are corrupt, and the BOPE officers, shown through Nascimento, are completely believable as they struggle against both their corrupt peers and the desperate trafficants. This is no silly, Hollywood shoot ‘em up, this is the real deal and it is my favorite movie this year. It’s going into my top ten movies ever list.


The movie is about social issues and not just violence. By I. Wan

The movie is quite violent, so it will appeal to action movie fans, but more than that, it is a social movie.

I was born and raised in Rio, close to one of the many favelas in that city.

Years ago, I attended the same university one of the characters in the movie did. The students there are accurately depicted. They are upper middle class students that preach peace and social services, but while doing that, they also smoke pot. When I didn’t see any problems at the time, but now, I can see the hypocrisy of preaching peace, but also financing the violence by smoking pot.

I also have a really good high school friend that’s a Capitain now in the PM (Military Policy). He’s not part of that Elite Squad, but he’s an honest cop. So while severly underpaid, there ARE honest cops out there.

Not really a movie review, but a rant, but this movie was quite realistic and nostalgic for me.

Elite Squad, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating


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Elite Squad
The Elite Squad (Portuguese: Tropa de Elite) is a 2007 Brazilian film directed by José Padilha. The film is a semi-fictional account of the BOPE (Portuguese: Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais), the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police. It is the second feature film...
Posted 29 Jul 2011

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Categories: Berlin Festival, Brazilian movies, Images, Synopsis, Trailers


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