Beverly Hills Cop
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: Rated R
Film Length: 105 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: May 17, 2010
Review Date: May 10, 2011
Disturbing the peace? I got thrown out of a window! What's the f*@#ing charge for getting pushed out of a moving car, huh? Jaywalking?
Fast talking, irreverent, and unabashedly smart-mouthed pegs perfectly the gift and fun of Eddie Murphy’s performance as Det. Axel Foley. Eddie Murphy had already begun his stratospheric rise to stardom when he donned the simple blue jeans and t-shirt garb of this character, but the story of a gritty Detroit cop turning Beverly Hills on its head in pursuit of a killer – with a disregard for procedure and a cheeky penchant for mockery along the way – hit the perfect tone in 1984 making Beverly Hills Cop the number one box office earner for the entire year – narrowly edging out Ghostbusters. Not all films from the 1980’s hold up so well, but Beverly Hills Cop (and other Eddie Murphy classics like Coming to America and Trading Places from that decade) remain as funny today as when they were first released.
The Film: 4 out of 5
Beverly Hills Cop begins in the back of a semi-truck, in a container filled with federally stamped but stolen cigarettes in one of Detroit’s many grimy alleys. When a squad car interrupts the negotiations and a carnage-filled chase ensues with a good portion of the motor-city’s automotive product being crushed by the indiscriminate steering of the crook at the wheel of the truck (before it comes to a crashing halt), we soon realize that what we’ve seen is a failed attempt at a one-man undercover sting. Soon, the undercover detective, Axel Foley, is dutifully chewed out by his less than impressed or forgiving captain and clocks out for the night. When an old friend makes an unexpected visit, Foley enjoys an evening out on the town, but when he and his friend – visiting from his new job in California – return to Foley’s apartment, his friend is executed and Foley is knocked unconscious. Before long Foley begins to investigate by driving his beat-up car to Beverly Hills – where his friend was working – and quickly finds himself on the radar of both a criminal organization and a by-the-book couple of detectives, Rosewood and Taggart, assigned by the Beverly Hills lieutenant, to make sure he behaves – which of course he does not.
Beverly Hills Cop’s journey to the theaters is perhaps more storied than many would suspect. Sylvester Stallone is one of the many names attached to star at one time or another. His vision for the film imagined a grittier tale with a ‘man on a mission’ body count to match (that film would become Cobra), and Mickey Rourke was originally considered for the part but left when the project continued to languish in pre-production (co-story creator Danilo Bach had turned in his draft to the studio in ’77). Frequent script changes and uncertainty in how to make the film work forced its journey to take a long and varied road. Once Eddie Murphy was on board, the rushed script and a still ill-prepared production seemed to find its groove. With a terrific comedy mind, Murphy’s improvisational proclivities set scenes ablaze, creating another production issues – people unable to keep a straight face forcing retakes – but that’s a better problem to face than predictable dialogue lacking verve and energy. And that is exactly what Murphy brings to the table. An unrelenting wise-crack machine with a naughty streak and a disregard for authority – all done with a wink and a smile – give the film the two tones that have made it universally loved. At one level, an avenging detective story seeking to bring down vicious criminals, and on the other, a playful, approachable comedy about a scruffy, likeable cop from the hard lines of Detroit who does everything he can to make the sunny, wealthy area of California concede to his style and approach. Who can forget his banter with Serge (Bronson Pinchot), the art gallery employee who nearly steals the scenes he is in as he tries to wrap his thick European accent around Foley’s fist name (Ahmed, Ackmed, Ack…), or how he takes in stride with untethered sass the verbal lashings he receives from an his acerbic Inspector Todd (Gilbert Hill), or how he ingeniously stops Taggart and Rosewood from tailing him with fruit in the tailpipe of their car, or gets a suite at a fine hotel by pretending to be a Rolling Stone reporter interviewing Michael Jackson – all classic stuff that helped make Cop a smash hit.
Beverly Hills Cop remains a genuine highlight in Eddie Murphy’s career. Having starred in 48hrs, the classic Trading Places, and his legendary standup, Delirious prior to his casting (as well as the hiccup Best Defense), this film represents the first unequivocal career footstep of a bona fide comedy movie star. Martin Brest provides merely adequate direction and the screenplay by Daniel Petrie, Jr., was undoubtedly saved by Murphy’s charisma and comedic inclinations, but the performances and Harold Faltermeyer’s unforgettable synth score saved the day. The casting of the goofy Judge Reinhold as Rosewood and the gruff, mildly rotund John Ashton as Taggart provided Murphy with a clever dynamic of characters to play off, sealing the ripe mixture and delivering one the funniest films of the 1980s.
The Video: 3.5 out of 5
Beverly Hills Cop makes its debut in 1080p High Definition framed at 1.85:1 and the results aren’t spectacular but are biased on the stronger end. Emerging from a noisy, more muted-color opening sequence in Detroit (perhaps an artistic choice), the transfer finds time to shine when Foley hits the West Coast. The image is generally dust and debris-free that can sparkle with clarity and definition. This isn’t a vibrant transfer, the image does not pop, but owners of the DVD release will immediately notice an improved image and will admire the lack of processing interference. Don’t expect shiny and you won’t be disappointed. This is a mid-eighties film with an image on par with Paramount’s release earlier this year of another early Eddie Murphy classic, 48 hrs.
The Sound: 3 out of 5
The first test for Beverly Hills Cop’s English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio comes during the opening chase sequence as an entire precincts squad car fleet vigorously pursues a truck carrying stolen cigarettes while the most famous of song of the film provides cover for the carnage – Glenn Frey’s The Heat Is On, and the results of this test are representative of the level of success for the entire audio. As the song plays it is apparent that it is clear, free of any real audio issues – no hiss, drop-outs or audio fluctuations, but it isn’t particularly dynamic. Certainly, there is plenty of bass (perhaps more than you might remember from previous the previous DVD release), and even a little rumble courtesy of the LFE, but it all seems somewhat lifeless. Dialogue is free of issues out of the center channel, but generally speaking, this audio is entirely unremarkable which is especially disappointing for those out there (like me) who were looking forward to a solid sound mix for Faltermeyer’s awesome (yes I pulled that word right out of the 80s) score.
The Extras: 3.5 out of 5
All of the special features have been ported over from the previous DVD release
Commentary by Martin Brest: The commentary, recorded for the DVD release back in 2002, provides a relatively interesting look back at shooting the film, though adding Eddie Murphy to the commentary would have been gold.
Beverly Hills Cop – The Phenomenon Begins (29:12): A relatively good look at the creation of the original film and the sequels it spawned with good perspective provided on the storied road to production which, as I noted in my review, included various different actors (and associated approaches) for the film.
A Glimpse Inside the Casting Process (9:35): Margery Simkin – casting director – discusses casting for the film.
The Music of Beverly Hills Cop (7:50): Fun by brief look at the hard-to-forget score for the film (though I will personally always prefer Faltermeyer’s score for Fletch)
Location Map: Find filming/scene locations and learn a little about each (7 in total)
Theatrical Trailer (HD)
Without Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop could have been dull; a fairly routine mixture of car chases and plucky detective work buoyed by a fish out of water premise. Fortunately, Murphy was cast and despite the lesser immediate sequel and an entirely forgettable (and dreadful) third entry in the series, it remains an iconic accomplishment in popular American cinema.
Overall 4 out of 5