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BEVERLY HILLS COP III

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Hector Elizondo, Theresa Randle, Bronson Pinchot
Director: John Landis
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 104 Minutes
Release Date: January 29, 2002

“So what brings you to California, Axel, vacation?”

“I'm looking for a killer?”

“In Beverly Hills?”

“No, Wonder World.”

“Wonder World? What, you mean Rufus Rabbit has gone bezerko.”

Film **1/2

I honestly may be one of very few that actually admit to enjoying Beverly Hills Cop III.  The movie came out at a point when Eddie Murphy's superstar status was slowly decreasing. Ever since critics slammed his directorial project, Harlem Nights, Murphy experienced difficulty in regaining a box office blockbuster, an element that failed to come through in his next two films, Boomerang and the much underrated The Distinguished Gentleman. It would seem like another Beverly Hills Cop sequel might do the job in being something as a comeback for Murphy. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Cop III came and went at the box office, got slammed by critics, and was followed up by Murphy's worst movie to date, the dreadful Vampire in Brooklyn.

The overall feel of the film is indeed a break from the hard edge of the first two movies. Cop III is driven more in its comedy, which is displayed here much enthusiastically than the action, which there is much of but not as plentiful like the first two movies, especially Cop II. While Cop III isn't as memorable as the first two movies, there are some huge laughs in the movie, as the movie's plot centers around corruption at a popular theme park, which I find somewhat original.

The movie opens with a nicely structured chase sequence between Axel Foley and corrupt businessmen, one of whom has just executed Foley's boss, Inspector Todd, right in front of his eyes. Following the chase, Foley is stopped by FBI agents on a stakeout, telling him to back off of the case. Axel, however, proceeds his usual route to his second home, Beverly Hills, which is where certain evidence leads to the killer's whereabouts, which is no less than Wonder World, Southern California's top amusement park. Foley looks up his California colleague, Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), who is now top observer of all of Southern California's districts. Taggart has since re-married and retired, and Rosewood's new aide is the equally uptight Detective Flint (Hector Elizondo). The killer turns out to be Wonder World's chief of security, Ellis Dewald (Timothy Carhart), a respected public figure who is about to be awarded for his services, which somewhat complicates Axel's plot to expose him. But that doesn't prevent him from entering Wonder World looking for clues.

The scenes in Wonder World are by far the best moments in the movie, which include a terrific scene where Axel, pursued by security, eludes them by cutting in front of George Lucas at a ride called The Spider, which is soon stuck in mid air, causing him to make a daredevil attempt to rescue two children in a nearby compartment via a rope. This leaves everyone on the ground looking up in horror, including theme park characters. Another riotous moment comes when Foley enters the park, disguised as Oki Dokey, a theme park elephant character, who soon becomes tormented by an unfriendly kid. There's also a brief return for Bronson Pinchot's art gallery worker, Serge, who now specializes in weapons, including a specific weapon that is a knockout, and which I will leave for you to discover.

Beverly Hills Cop III may have not been the success it should've been, but for me it's a more than amusing ride, filled with huge laughs and some terrifically done action sequences. It helps to a professional director like John Landis (The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London) at the helm. The movie does have its share of flaws, including somewhat of a lame lead villain, but on each viewing of the movie, I've had much more fun than complaints.

Video ***1/2

Of the three Beverly Hills Cop discs, Part 3 easily wins the prize for best all around transfer. Paramount did their homework on this release, as picture quality is completely crisp and clear. The action in the movie takes place in outdoor settings, which turn up especially nicely with sharp imaging and terrific blending of colors. There's a bit softness in a couple of scenes, but the rest of the presentation is more than enough to overshadow that minor complaint.

Audio ***

A nice turn out on the audio track as well. Paramount's 5.1 digital presentation is close to near-perfect quality, as the audio performance provides good use for the films numerous shootouts and action scenes. When the movie isn't gearing its way into action, the sound is heard mostly from the front. All in all, an acceptable performance.

Features **

Only a trailer and a short, but nicely informative cast and crew interview retrospective.

Summary:

Although many will dismiss Beverly Hills Cop III as another low point in Eddie Murphy's pre-Nutty Professor days, this is still worthy of viewing for is outrageousness and hugely funny moments.

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