BEVERLY HILLS COP
Review by Michael Jacobson
Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Ronny Cox,
Director: Martin Brest
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: January 29, 2002
me what’s the charge.”
a concealed weapon and disturbing the peace.”
THE PEACE?? I got thrown through a
window! What’s the f—king
charge for getting pushed out of a moving car, huh?
Murphy has returned to prime form in recent years, and that’s been great to
see. It may be the case where, like
with John Travolta, it will be hard to remember there was a period between his
initial exploding stardom and his renaissance where he was mostly absent from
any worthwhile project and more fondly remembered than actually missed.
can still clearly recall the early days when the young comic star of “Saturday
Night Live” first broke into the movies.
His first two mainstream pictures were both big hits…48 Hrs and Trading
Places showed him capable of holding his own with established stars like
Nick Nolte and Dan Aykroyd respectively. But
when Beverly Hills Cop came out, it proved he could carry a movie all by
himself as well.
saw his first two films, but responded to Beverly Hills Cop with much
more enthusiasm. It may have also
been my first experience with a Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer production, too,
but at the time, I only noticed Eddie Murphy.
He plays Detroit detective Axel Foley as though he were born for the
is a good cop capable of an occasional misguided but well-intended deed.
As the picture opens, we witness the funny (and rather smashing) scene
where his unauthorized attempt at a black market bust goes terribly wrong,
leading to an unforgettable truck chase through the streets of Detroit.
the real story begins when a longtime shady friend gets murdered outside of his
apartment. Not allowed to work on
the case because of his personal involvement, the unflappable Foley takes a
vacation and heads to Beverly Hills, the city where the crime trail leads.
follows is more than just a fish-out-of-water story, though Murphy makes the
most out of the obvious contrast of a street smart black man in a town of white
bread wealth and arrogance. With
the aid of another old friend, Jenny (Eilbacher), he follows the clues to
international art dealer Victor Maitland (Berkoff), but before he can act, he
has to go through the polite but stiff Beverly Hills police force, including the
straight-laced captain (Cox) and the two partners assigned to keep Axel out of
trouble, Taggert and Rosewood (Ashton and Reinhold).
picture is an entertaining mixture of comedy, action, and music…let’s not
forget that this film produced one of the best soundtrack albums of the 80s.
If you have forgotten, the opening strains of “The Heat is On” by
Glen Frey will remind you. Harold
Faltermeyer’s score is as memorable as any from the time period, spawning its
own hit single in “Axel F”.
Simpson/Bruckheimer signature is all over this film, despite being an early
entry and therefore modestly budgeted compared to their later pictures.
Laughs and excitement go hand in hand, and even a surprising moment of
violence or two doesn’t shake the audience out of the fun they have.
(I should say mostly…my mother never could accept that a comedy
could have a few people getting shot along the way.)
the real signature of the picture belongs to Eddie Murphy, who not only proved
himself a fully capable comic film star, but helped to usher in a new kind of
cop for the movies as well. Every
wisecracking flatfoot of the last 18 years owes a little something to Axel
film has stood up well…it’s just as much fun to watch for me today as when
it first came out while I was a kid. A
couple of sub-par sequels didn’t take away the shine from the first one.
Eddie Murphy’s star was definitely at a high with this movie, and
it’s been very welcome to see it return to that kind of luster once again.
movie does beg at least one question, however…why is it that bad guys can’t
hit anything they aim for, even with machine guns?
can’t say I’m overly impressed with this transfer…I owned a copy of this
movie on laser disc for many years, and was expecting the DVD to be an
improvement…other than being presented in anamorphic widescreen, it looks
pretty much the same. Films from
the 80s tend to be problematic, and this one is no exception…while it’s
perfectly watchable, one can’t help but notice the overall softness of the
images, coupled with lack of detail (especially in displaying darker images).
A bit of grain crops up here and there, and there is a light sense of
overall color muting…all of these are attributable to the age of the film, and
not the transfer, to be sure, but they still merit pointing out.
It may be time to take Axel in for a bit of restoration before he ends up
looking as shabby as that Nova he drives.
new 5.1 mix is serviceable, but nothing to get excited about.
After a promising early start with the truck chase sequences where all
channels hopped nicely into the mix, the audio settles down into a more
straightforward presentation, without a lot of rear stage usage, and only a
moderate amount of dynamic range. The
.1 channel kicks in nicely to add some bass to the terrific song score,
though…that’s a very nice touch.
commentary with director Martin Brest is a fair listen, with some pauses…as he
puts it, “I’m just as hypnotized by this images as you are…”
Um, yeah…anyway, it’s a bit light, but some good information here and
there, including working with the actors, the evolution of the project and such.
The “cast and crew interviews” is actually about a half hour new
featurette that looks back on the making of the movie, from it’s conception to
its various stages (at one point, it was a Sylvester Stallone vehicle, and most
of his ideas later went into the movie Cobra), plus interviews with Jerry
Bruckheimer, Martin Brest, and cast members (though only a couple of brief
comments from Eddie Murphy).
other features include a featurette on casting and one on the music, an
interactive locations segment, a photo gallery, and the original trailer.