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"There are three kinds of policemen in Rio. Those who are corrupt, those who look the other way, and those who go to war."

Roberto Nascimento, The Elite Squad

The Elite Squad (originally named Tropa de Elite) is a Golden Bear-winning Brazilian movie depicting the war between Rio de Janeiro drug dealers and the police - specifically, the BOPE (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais: "Special Police Operations Battalion"), the most feared police force in the State. In the midst of this war, Captain Nascimento prepares for retirement as his first child is born. To replace him, there are two regular police officers - hotheaded Neto and the more intelectual Matias. Add in the mixture police corruption, and you've got it.

The movie was quite a success in Brazil, strangely, even before being officially released, with the amount of pirated copies of it being sold (which kinda contradicts the spirit of "don't finance crime" of the film). It has been basically the greatest meme generator in Brazil in recent history and the protagonist, Captain Nascimento, is now recognized as a true Memetic Badass.

It has also stirred some controversy regarding human rights, due to the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique used by the BOPE crew, being the cover of some of the most important magazines in the country.

A sequel was released in 2010. In it, Nascimento (now a Lt. Colonel) is Kicked Upstairs after Matias kills an armed prisoner while controlling a prison rebellion. He uses the new job to equip BOPE and destroy most crime in Rio... which leads to the corrupt cops (referred to as "militia") deciding to take over the slums where drug dealers had control. Only gets worse from here. It became the Brazilian movie with the highest attendance ever in theaters.

José Padilha, who directed both films, has been recently chosen by MGM to helm the RoboCop remake.

Tropes used in The Elite Squad include:
  • Alas, Poor Yorick - A very squicky example.
  • Anyone Can Die - Sure, Matias, you survived the first film all right. Guess you're now immune, right?
  • Anti-Hero: Type V
  • Badass: Captain Nascimento. Though Matias probably qualifies, near the end.
    • Badass Army: BOPE, full stop. Baiano's reaction after discovering the guy he just killed was one of them should tell you that messing with them is not the best of ideas. And then BOPE takes a level in badass in Tropa 2.
  • Black and Gray Morality / Evil Versus Evil: As cruel as BOPE is, the drug dealers are worse, and the militia too.
  • Black Best Friend: Matias is this towards Neto; both of them grew up together.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. Between white Neto and black Matias, it's Neto who bites the dust. Interestingly, it was in a trap intended for Matias. Who then dies in the sequel..
  • The Tasteless But True Story: A few of the incidents are true, seen in BOPE training or the Rio crime pages.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The BOPE operators who crash Nascimento's shootout with the militia in Tropa 2.
  • Butt Monkey: A lot of crap happens to Fabio, and he's singled out for the worst treatment at the BOPE training camp in Tropa 1. In Tropa 2, although he managed to get promoted to Colonel, he's still being bossed around by everyone, and his nominal subordinate Rocha pretty much ignores him. Until he kills Rocha and takes over his militia.
  • Colonel Badass: Nascimento is a Lieutenant Colonel when Tropa 2 begins.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Lots.
  • Crapsack World: The sequel drives the point home that Brazil is corrupt to the bone.
  • The Danza - André Ramiro plays André Matias.
    • In the sequel, Sandro Rocha plays Major Rocha.
  • Dawson Casting: While the first film is set in 1997 (when John Paul II visited Brazil), the second one is set in the Present Day, that is, 2010. However, Nascimento's son, who was born in the end of the first film, is played by a 16-year old, meaning that either the film is set Twenty Minutes in The Future or that he's Younger Than He Looks.
  • Dead Star Walking - Seu Jorge in the sequel.
  • Deconstruction - The sequel does this to Nascimento and some aspects of the first film.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: The film became a hit partially because of its leak. Which explains why the DVD has three unskippable "piracy finances organized crime" warnings before the menu shows up.
    • Dolled-Up Installment: The street-DVD piracy got some real films and labeled them "Tropa de Elite 2" (a documentary about the war on traffic), "3" (actual BOPE images) and "4" (a Brazilian movie about the origins of drug-dealing group Comando Vermelho).
  • Downer Ending: Nascimento has a few personal victories in the sequel but corruption is still rampant, greater than he envisioned and not shaken a bit by his actions.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Fabio orders Rocha to leave Matias alone because he saved his life in the Babilonia favela, 13 years ago. Rocha ignores him. At Mattias' funeral, Fabio is saluting along with the rest of BOPE.
  • False-Flag Operation: Rocha's militia steal guns from a police station in Tanque; the gangs are framed for the theft, giving an excuse for BOPE to clean them out, so that the residents will become voters friendly to Fortunato.
  • How We Got Here: The first movie begins with Fabio and a bunch of corrupt cops entering the Babilonia favela and Mattias and Neto racing to an overwatch position. Neto gets on the sniper rifle and fires, as Nascimento talks about BOPE and the three kinds of cops in Rio... and then rewinds to the start of their stories, revealing that Matias and Neto are trying to keep Fabio from being killed, not sniping him.
      • The sequel opens with the militia gunning down Nascimento's car, Nascimento saying that in the face of death he started remembering everything... and when the movie returns to that scene, it's revealed that Nascimento is kinda safe, specially because some friends came to his aid.
  • It Got Worse: After Baiano asked not to be shoot in the face, Nascimento calls a guy: "07, dá a 12 aí!" ("07, gimme the shotgun!")
    • The whole point of the sequel.
  • It's Personal: Nascimento already fights crime and corruption. Then in the sequel, his son gets accidentally shot in a trap... it only gets worse for the bad guys from there.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: BOPE's way of solving things, taken Up to Eleven. The summit of it... Let's just say it involves brooms.
  • Kicked Upstairs: When removing Nascimento from BOPE, they give him a spot in the Secretary of Intelligence. Subverted in that he uses it to equip BOPE and watch for crime, corruption and the such from inside the force.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: When Rafael is shot, Captain Nascimento gives a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown beating to a politician involved with the militias.
  • Kill It with Fire: Two characters are killed in a way the real Rio drug dealers call "microwave". It involves stuffing the victim inside a stack of tires and setting it on fire. A drug dealer gets killed by his rivals this way in the beginning of the sequel too.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Neto and Matias start out like this.
  • Knight Templar: Captain Nascimento. Matias also becomes one by the end.
  • Large Ham: André Mattos as Fortunato, the pundit from Mira Geral. He is funny in the beginning, but then it is not.
  • Last-Name Basis: Basically everyone.
  • Married to the Job: Nascimento, who in the first movie practically crushes his marriage because of his commitment to police duty.
  • Oh Crap: After killing Neto, Baiano almost pisses himself.

"...Because Baiano knew that killing a member of BOPE was asking to suffer."

    • Earlier, during BOPE training camp, Mattias is falling asleep during a lecture by Nascimento, who's speaking in a soft droning voice. Instead of giving him an asskicking, Nascimento simply puts a grenade in Mattias' hands, tells him to hold it, and pulls the pin out. Mattias is instantly awake and wide-eyed.

"Now, 07, if you are still sleepy. You are holding a live grenade. If you fall asleep, the grenade will fall out of your hands and go off and kill us all. Let's continue."

  • The President's Daughter: A lot of the stress in Tropa 1 occurs because Pope John Paul II was going to visit Rio (one of the memetic quotes was "Put it on the Pope's bill!").
  • Playing Against Type: The actor who played Captain Nascimento, Wagner Moura, is usually a comedian or comic relief.
    • Well, he did play a villain in a recent soap opera... And not in the slightest a funny one.
      • "Usually" is the operational word here. Wagner Moura is a very talented actor. In the said soap opera his character, and his character's mistress, a whore with a heart of tin, stole the limelight from the bland protagonist couple.
  • Popcultural Osmosis: The Rap das Armas (Rap of Weapons) song on the begining of the movie; the complete obscure song became a overnight hit in Brazil because of the movie, when the movie was on theathers one just couldn't pass a day without hearing the song on the local radio station or at some car parked near a pub. Now any brazilian will associate the song with the movie and how badass it makes the BOPE to be, no exceptions; the irony of all besides the song predating the movie itself, is the fact that the lyrics is about glorifying fire weapons to kill cops with it, it is the typical favela rap that praises criminals and hates on the police for trying to take over their turf.
  • Product Placement: A few in the sequel. It helps that like every Brazilian movie, the credits are preceded by the sponsors, so it's easier to recognize.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni" Neto and Matias.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Matias took Neto's murder preeeeetty hard.
    • In the sequel, Nascimento after his son gets shot.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: "BRING THE 12!"
  • Sociopathic Hero: BOPE, full stop.
  • Strawman Political: Fraga starts as Strawman Leftist. Then he goes up a level.
  • SWAT Team: BOPE originally started as a relatively peaceful hostage rescue team, before evolving into a Badass Army fighting fire with fire. Tropa 2 shows an example of an attempt to return to their roots, when deployed to suppress the prison riot... except that rather than control the situation, Nascimento suggests letting the criminals kill each other and then mop up once they're spent.
  • Take a Third Option: Villainous example in the sequel. After Nascimento and BOPE weaken the drug dealers that they do not have the ability to secure the favelas as their strongholds, Rochoa and the dirty cops find another source of income by becoming illegal essential services providers to the favelas, in addition to protection rackets.
  • Take That: In the sequel, Nascimento is annoyed that people call him a fascist.
    • When the invasion of the Tanque favela fails to find the stolen police guns, Nascimento tells his assistant to call it "Operation Iraq."
    • The sequel also is a Take That on the entire corrupt system.
  • There Are Three Kinds of Cops in Brazil: Capt. Nascimento's opening monologue.
  • Training from Hell: An understatement if you ever saw one, even including Taught By Experience.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The US release trailer implies Matias and Neto as joining BOPE to avenge a girl they loved who was killed by gang violence. They got into BOPE after inadvertently triggering a shootout between drug dealers and Dirty Cops, and were sick of the corruption in the police. Said girl is killed after they're already recruits and leave her, in the scene listed above in Kill It with Fire.
  • Values Dissonance: Brazilian critics loved it, whereas foreign critics not so much, with some calling it "fascist". This dissonance might be in part to the fact that the movie seems to be mainly trying to 'show' things as they are, but Do Not Do This Cool Thing aspects might have made it seem otherwise.
    • In-universe example from the sequel: The human rights people and some politicians are highly critical of Nascimento and BOPE after a bandit is killed in an operation. When Nascimento goes seeing his superiors and such in a restaurant to discuss this matters, every other patron stands up and applauds Nascimento!

"To normal people, a good criminal is a dead criminal."