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Featured Blu-ray Review: Beverly Hills Cop

May 15th, 2011

Beverly Hills Cop - Blu-ray Buy from Amazon

Eddie Murphy owned the 1980s. We have him in sixth place on the chart for the decade, but you could easily argue he should be ranked second, or maybe even first. He was the star in every single film he was in during the 1980s, while three of the people above him where primarily known for their voice work. Dan Aykroyd earned a substantial amount of his total box office for the decade from supporting parts in movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Driving Miss Daisy. Even Harrison Ford had Star Wars to boost his overall numbers, while he was a key part of the films' success, he was not the main reason people bought tickets. Beverly Hills Cop is Murphy's biggest film, outside of voice work, and many consider it his best. But now that the film is closing in on 30 years old, does it still live up to its reputation? And if so, is the Blu-ray worth owning?

The Movie

We first meet Axel Foley working undercover, but when some beat cops happen to stumble into the area, the bad guys take off, in a semi truck, and cause countless dollars worth of damage before eventually getting away. Worse still, this was an unauthorized undercover operation and his boss takes the time to chew him out before sending him home. Once he gets home, Mikey Tandino, an old friend and ex-con, is there to greet him. The pair grew up together and were involved in a lot of petty crimes, including one where Mikey took the fall for the both of them. He got out of prison several months ago and was working as a security guard in Beverly Hills. Normally security guard and ex-con don't go together, but the manager there is Jenny Summers, who was a friend to both Axel and Mikey. They head to a local bar to reminisce together, and get really drunk, before returning home. It's there that two thugs jump them, knock out Axel, and kill Mikey. Axel demands to be given a chance to investigate the crime, but since he's too close to the crime, his boss refuses. Axel does have some vacation time and his boss lets him to use it immediately, as long as he stays out of the case.

Axel breaks that promise immediately by heading to Beverly Hills. He gets in contact with Jenny Summers and starts asking questions about Mikey's job and the person he worked for, Victor Maitland. He's very blunt and this causes problems with the authorities there. Turns out the Beverly Hills Police are even less thrilled about him investigating this case than his boss and put two cops, Billy Rosewood and John Taggart, on his tail. Unfortunately for them, Axel's background includes operating on the other side of the law and he quickly eludes them.

Unfortunately for Victor Maitland, Axel Foley is a damn good cop.

Beverly Hill Cop is widely regarded as one of the best action / comedies of all time, and for damn good reason. Eddie Murphy is pitch perfect for Axel Foley and balance between his comedy and the physical action is maintained nearly flawlessly. It does start to lean heavily toward action as the film goes on, and some of jokes in the climatic action scene fall a little flat, almost out of place. (To be specific, the attempts to climb the fence felt too much slapstick to mesh with the danger the characters were in. On the other hand, Rosewood trying to get the henchmen to surrender was a lot funnier.) But the slight issues with the tone are minor complaints overall.

The supporting cast do their best to keep up with Eddie Murphy, which is not an easy task. Both Judge Reinhold and John Aston have great chemistry with Eddie, and as partners, while Steven Berkoff is great as the villain. Even the smaller roles, like Paul Reiser's part, generate a whole lot of laughs.

There are some who think the film hasn't aged well, and while I would agree that the music certainly sounds very 80s, I like the hit of nostalgia that comes with it. The electronic theme song "Axel F" is one of the most iconic theme songs of all time. "And The Heat Is On" and "Neutron Dance" are both great hits.

The Extras

So the good news is the movie still holds up after all these years. The bad news is the Blu-ray release is shovelware. The previous DVD release did have a number of extras and they are all ported over here, so that's good. Martin Brest sits down for an audio commentary track; it's not bad, but it suffers from some of the common issues solo tracks have, including a lack of energy and a few too many dead spots. The Phenomena Begins is a 30-minute retrospective that offers a lot of insight into the creation of the movie. A Glimpse Inside the Casting Process spends 10 minutes looking at the casting of this film, which was a strange process, as Eddie Murphy was cast just a couple weeks before filming began. The Music of Beverly Hills Cop is an 8-minute look at the music, which is such an important part of the movie. Finally, there is an interactive map of L.A. with many locations from the film and a short clip about each one.

The technical presentation of the film is a little mixed. The video is great, for a film that's nearly 30 years old, with good details, solid blacks, not too much grain, etc. A fair warning, the opening credits look quite bad, but there is a huge improvement once the movie actually starts. Some of the darker scenes have some minor issues, but the bright outdoor scenes set in L.A. are great, all things considered. On the other hand, the audio is disappointing. For an action movie, there's just not enough action in the surround sound speakers. That chase scene in the beginning of the movie should have given all six speakers a workout, but for the most part, only the front three will see any action.

As for the price, it's a tad more money than I would like to pay for shovelware, but not so much that it feels like a rip-off.

The Verdict

Beverly Hill Cop makes its Blu-ray debut this week and the movie itself is absolutely worth owning. The disc is shovelware, but unless the long delayed Beverly Hills Cop IV gets made before 2014, this is the best we are going to see for a while.

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Filed under: Video Review, Beverly Hills Cop