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Beverly Hills Cop: 3-Movie Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Yes, I’m in the same boat as you. Why is this not a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release, Paramount? Us collectors don’t care for your boasting of 4K Ultra-HD streams to “own”. At least the new transfers are being used for the Blu-rays on this new set that also includes some “new” extras for the taking (Stuff culminated from old interviews). Its hard for people to remember now, but Beverly Hills Cop was one of the biggest movies ever in the 1980s and its box office success was an absolute phenomenon. Seriously, go back and track it and see how many times it was #1 and how long it stayed (And returned) to the Top 10 for 1984 through 1986 (Well, Box Office Mojo sucks now, so it might be more difficult now that I think of it). Pretty stunning for this little action comedy. Its the movie that solidified Eddie Murphy as a superstar and rolled out 2 sequels (And a fourth that maybe someday gets made). The three movies will be landing on Blu-ray January 14th and are already currently on digital with their new restorations.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Originally published as a part of the Naptown Nerd Beverly Hills Cop Retrospective (July 2013)

After his childhood buddy is murdered while visiting Detroit, rebellious cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) follows the leads to Beverly Hills, Calif., under the auspices of a vacation. He checks in with old friend Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher) and starts to believe her boss, art dealer Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff), might somehow be involved in the murder. However, Lt. Bogomil (Ronny Cox) of the Beverly Hills Police Department does not trust Foley, and hinders his search for evidence.

The first film was released in 1984 but was in production for 7 years prior to that.  The first draft of the script was option back in 1977.  It was originally planned as a vehicle for actor Mickey Rourke, who was actually paid for the film.  He left, some other names threw around but ultimately landed on Sylvester Stallone.  Stallone wanted in on some of the story and such.  The film he wanted to make was ultimately too dark and gritty for what the studio was going for.  When an agreement couldn’t be reached, Stallone walked (but wouldn’t walk away from his take).  Then, a wild card and the best thing to happen to this film came abound.  Eddie Murphy was brought on to play the lead, Axel Foley.  The film was hitting production soon and a crazy amount of rewrites had to happen to make this work.

Without Eddie Murphy, this movie would have been just another generic 80s crime story.  All the details and the plot at hand are quite pedestrian.  However, it becomes better when taking that idea and twisting it on its head.  Rather than be that, it adds a heavy layer or comedy and a off the wall main character and it makes the film incredibly entertaining.  What on paper is a “fish out of water” type scenario become a fish very out of water.

I was shocked that pretty much all of the humor in this film holds up.  It actually is a lot more in line with the type of humor we have in films today.  A lot of it is improv based, which is what most of the top comedies nowadays are using.  Eddie Murphy is incredible as Foley.  This is akin to a Sean Connery as Bond in Dr. No or Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars type performance.  He sinks himself in and is so comfortable and just eats up scenery.  I was finding myself general laughing out loud during this.  Another key player is Judge Reinhold.  He’s pretty damn good as Rosewood (so good, the character was originally supposed to be killed halfway through and survived instead), the oblivious young detective.  He shares great chemistry with Murphy and John Ashton as well.

One aspect that I really liked in the film was the relationship between Axel Foley and Jenny Summers.  They are longtime friends and that’s it.  There’s no romance involved there.  They’re allowed to just be friends.  A lot of times this kind of thing is forced on or “required’.  Here there is none of that.  In Stallone’s version, however, Jenny was indeed Axel’s girl.  I don’t know if the rewrite was done because of a fear of an interracial couple or whatnot, but i’m gonna take the film as it is now and say it was nice to see something rare like this.

What convo can’t be complete without discussing the theme?  Watching this film just makes me think…there’s really not a whole lot of “catchy” movie scores anymore, are there?  I’m not saying there are no good scores. No no no, so please don’t give me shit for that.  I’m just saying there’s nothing that strikes someone so good they get it stuck in there head and instantly associate it with a film.  When I first moved out to Los Angeles, I changed my ringtone on my cell phone to “Axel F”.  I tell you, if you want to draw a ton of unwarranted attention and the most puzzled looks on peoples’ faces, do this.  The more my phone rang, the more embarrassed I got.

Quick mention, Breaking Bad‘s hitman for hire Mike was in this film as the right hand thug of the baddie.  Jonathan Banks is someone I had apparently seen in a ton of movies (he’s in Gremlins, too) that I never too note of until Breaking Bad.  Dunno how it escaped me, but it did.  Looking at most of the cast, he’s likely the best off nowadays (Murphy aside), considering when he filmed this he was probably just a random character actor in the mix.

Do we want to discuss the banana in the tailpipe?  There is a notorious scene in the movie where Axel Foley thwarts 2 cops tailing him by shoving a few bananas up their tailpipe.  Upon takeoff, their car stalls.  This is constantly noted as a falsity and ridiculous all time film moment.  However, its not as bad as its made out.  If you were to clog the tailpipe with something, not allowing any exhaust out, your car would cease to transport you.  The problem here is the banana.  Its too light weight, slick and smooshy and would shoot right out upon some acceleration.  If somehow a few bananas (which Axel puts more than one in) were lodged in there and lodged in really good…MAYBE.  But still, its a banana and its not going to work.  So there you have it folks, the idea IS possible, but its VERY not likely to work.  See, you can learn some things here on Why So Blu.

Beverly Hills Cop surprisingly stands the test of time.  Some of the jokes are dated, but they are few.  The humor works and the story is solid.  Throw this one back in, its a film we should remember.  This one really does work on the same level it was intended to almost 30 years ago.

Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)

Originally published as a part of the Naptown Nerd Beverly Hills Cop Retrospective (August 2013)

The hard-nosed Detroit cop from the original film returns to Los Angeles to help solve another case. This time he must direct his efforts towards unravelling the Alphabet Crimes, a series of robberies committed by leather-jacketed punks. The investigation puts him on the trail of an illegal arms dealer and his hit lady.

The second Axel Foley adventure falls into that sequel trope of being “more of the same”.  A lot of times back in the day, if you got a sequel, you just got the same movie repackaged.  I’m not saying its an exact remake, but all the beats are the same and very little progresses.  Its an entertaining movie no doubt, but there’s nothing here that really needed to be explored.

The film has a very weak first act.  Everything is a plot of convenience and pretty hokey to have things set up.  We catch Axel Foley in basically the same situation we were introduced to him in the previous film.  And what gets him back to Beverly Hills is essentially the same circumstances in which he went in the first one.  Also, given the guise with which he takes the trip, he’s right back at square one with his own police office and the Beverly Hills one.  Also, the minute Ronny Cox’s Capt Bogomil is introduced, you know exactly where his character is going.  The absurdity is only cemented by an absolutely pointless call he makes to Foley before he meets his fate.  Its a very fast paced set up making it all really hokey, convenient and goofy as it plays out.  But, its what this film needs to set up, so we gotta shrug and just move on.

Once again, we basically have Foley dropped into a criminal plot of a generic 80s action film (one that thinks its smarter than it is).  Everything would be forgettable if it wasn’t for Eddie Murphy and that’s what makes it more special.  But, I guess that’s kind of what this series does.  So that’s no strike against it.  He’s once again at the top of his game and able to just own the screen.  Murphy became a massive star after the first film.  Paramount’s prime directive was to spin that into a television series with Eddie Murphy reprising Foley, but the leading man said he was done with TV and sequel was optioned.  The movie itself was another big box office success, despite mixed reviews.

This movie had some big points that reminded me of A View To A Kill a bit.  There’s a bit with horse racing that is familiar.  Most of it I guess is that henchwoman Brigitte Nielsen’s Karla being an obvious knock off of Grace Jones’ May Day.  Both are the main squeeze of the big bad, larger than life women that run heist operations, wear crazy array of sexy and stealthy outfits, fire big guns, kick ass and speak few words.  While I’d rather take 80s Brigitte on a date, May Day through and through is the cooler character.

Speaking of Brigitte, there’s a lot of Stallone jokes to go around.  Aside from her being his wife at this time, there’s an addition of somewhat of a love fest Rosewood has with him.  In some of the only character progression and development in this film, we are let in a bit on who Rosewood outside of work.  He is apparently a weapons nut idolizing Sly.  He’s got not only a Rambo: First Blood Part II poster on his wall, but a COBRA!!!!!!!!!!!! poster as well.  The producers surely were in on some of the behind the scenes fun with the first film here.  Judge Reinhold plays it great too.  As a weird guy already, he embellishes in playing the character quirky but straight, never going over the top to get it across.

Martin Brest did not return to direct.  Instead, hot off another Jerry Bruckheimer production (Top Gun), came Tony Scott.  The difference in aesthetic is very noticeable as this is very much a Tony Scott film.  Its shot in 2.35:1 for starters.  Plus inside every building is that “smokey room” thing he brought to everything.  The film is also more action heavy and flashy.  Everything is up’d a notch which is very common of the “more of the same” sequels of the day.  Machine guns last time in the finale?  We’ve got rocket launchers this time!  Foley drives a beater in the first one?  Here’s a sports car.  A hoodie to accompany his SAME high school t-shirt?  We’ve got a Detroit Lions letter jacket for him to sport.  And Axel is also never fully dressed down in this film.  When in Detroit he’s wearing fancy suits and such.  Lisa Eilbacher’s small, homely Jenny Summers replaced by a larger than life exotic fashion model.  Its a flashier, more expensive looking version of the first film.  Whereas the first film was a more personal, character based crime drama, this is a big budget summer popcorn movie.  That’s how sequels tended to work in the 80s.  Same thing but bigger.  Even the theme is spruced up and more poppy.  And for this movie it seems to work out ok.

I really did like the cast in this one a bit.  Paul Reiser is given more to do this time around rather than just be a cameo at the beginning.  Aside from the returning players, the additions are quite fun with Brigitte Nielsen, Jurgen Prochnow, Dean Stockwell and cameos from Gilbert Gottfried and Chris Rock.  Just a bit more engaging and attention commanding actors in the villain roles.

The second film in the Beverly Hills Cop series is flashier but ultimately stays at home with where its comfortable.  Everything you liked in the first one is brought back here.  And in a rare circumstance, it does work.  Aside from going bigger the series narrative doesn’t really move a whole lot by the end.  Its got a rough first act and finishes quite over the top.  It still manages to be really entertaining, but the film doesn’t really do a whole lot aside from feel like a bigger budgeted remake.  It falls short of the first one’s greatness, but that film was something very special.  The film’s ok, but the formula is a bit tired by the end of it.

Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

Originally published as a part of the Naptown Nerd Beverly Hills Cop Retrospective (August 2013)

When his boss is killed, Detroit cop Alex Foley (Eddie Murphy) finds evidence that the murderer had ties to a California amusement park called Wonder World. Returning to Beverly Hills once more, Foley reunites with Detective Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) to solve the case. Along with Billy’s new partner, Jon Flint (Héctor Elizondo), they discover that the security force of Wonder World is actually part of a counterfeit money operation headed by park manager Orrin Sanderson (John Saxon).

Seven years, and this is what they deliver?  Whoof.  I dunno where to start or what to say.  This is a bad, lackluster, generic effort if I’ve ever seen one.  I couldn’t recall much from this movie aside from Axel Foley involved in an action scene on a ferris wheel, and after I viewed it again I can see why my brain has chosen not to remember it.  This movie isn’t laughably bad, its not “Eh, its better than no Beverly Hills Cop” or just the unfortunate third best in a string of good to decent movies.  This movie is just a complete waste.

The strongest suit of the entire series was Eddie Murphy.  He is the key to everything else.  You can have a weak script, but Murphy will save it.  That’s not the case here with III.  According to director John Landis, Murphy wasn’t keen on being outrageous and zany this time.  Landis wasn’t big on the script, but like all of us, figured Eddie would save it.  Murphy approached the role more seriously this time.  He’s not a wildcard in the scenes anymore.  And with what he gives, you could plug just about any actor in there and get the same result.  According to Bronson Pinchot, Eddie was apparently having self esteem issues at the time.  During their shoot, Landis sent Murphy away and stood in for Eddie to film Pinchot’s portion.  The film carries just about as much energy as Eddie delivers.

The script has a great intention.  It wants to showcase Axel Foley slowing piecing together evidence to put a villain behind bars.  However, its incredibly repetitive and tiring.  Foley finds a piece of evidence, confronts bad guys, bad guys are two steps ahead, Foley gets booted, supposed to be sent away, finds a new piece.  Take that and repeat it for about an hour and 20 minutes.  The film is also obsessed with showcasing parts of Universal Studios and California’s Great America theme parks.  While the movie does utilize a few things for action sets, I think they could have had much more fun with it.

Its a shame that John Ashton wasn’t able to come back, his character was missed.  The first two movies were kind of a nice trio.  I understand Ronny Cox was a part of the fold, too, but the meat of the series was Foley, Rosewood and Taggart’s relationship.  They do bring back Rosewood, but it’s almost as if its for fan service and they don’t really want him there.  This film is more of a solo Axel Foley picture.  And that assists in its suffering.  There’s not enough teamwork involved and familiarity for Axel to bounce off of.

Axel Foley has been back to Beverly Hills twice since the first one and not a mention of Jenny Summers.  I haven’t even read that she was even thought of to come back.  The first film spent a good deal and did a good job of selling us that they were good friend.  In fact no girl characters carry over the entire series.  And we usually just get one stock female character and that’s it.  I guess II wins in this department as it had two female characters.

The film’s main bad guy is a total dick.  They did a good job of making me not care for him.  I guess that’s a positive I can give this movie.  They also cast vet John Saxon.  The amount of fun cameos in the film lead me to believe John Landis wanted to have fun with this movie, but he seemed to be hampered with an unwilling star.

Beverly Hills Cop III stinks.  There’s no way around it.  This time, following Axel to Beverly Hills wasn’t worth the trip.  In order for these films to work, you need Eddie Murphy’s A-Game.  And he did not bring it this time around.  This film took too long to get off the ground (the second was a big success so it was inevitable).  By the time it came to actually making this movie, it had become a “going back to the well” film for Murphy.  The Distinguished Gentleman was considered a box office disappointment and budgetary cuts were made to Beverly Hills Cop III.  A guy who was once on top of the world was grounded and not dealing with it well.  And it shows.  Avoid this one if you’re watching the series.  And let’s hope a fourth is better than this.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio:

  • Beverly Hills Cop – 1.78:1
  • Beverly Hills Cop II – 2.39:1
  • Beverly Hills Cop III – 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Beverly Hills Cop movies have all had nice new 4K transfers for this release to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original film. Unfortunately for physical media enthusiasts, we are only getting those beautiful 4K restorations on standard 108op Blu-ray. I know, I can hear your excitement. The original Beverly Hills Cop looks pretty terrific as like you are watching a a theatrical print of the film. Its a bit grainy, but the depth and detail kept intact are pretty terrific. The second films holds up quite well too, with a bit of grain a some strong detail. Beverly Hills Cop III looks pretty clean and a bit smoother than the other two and it may be more due to the drastic change in lighting schemes from the first two giving me that illusion.

Depth:  The first two films feature really good push back and foreground and background distances. The third one is pretty solid too, but has some weird looking movements when CG is used to fill out the theme park. That’s probably more for the effects holding up to the text of time than anything. Overall, movements are natural, smooth and don’t have any distortion issues during any quick or rapid action sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and er on the side of natural for all three films. I will point out that in the first film there are some hallway scenes in Axel Foley’s apartment building that are the victim of some crushing that I noticed and had a light brown looking to them. The rest of the way, no problems.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty strong and pop, with good saturation all around. The second film is a bit muted and more brown an hazy by stylistic choice.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent in the original film, take a bit more of a muted tone in the second and the third one has characters at their most flush with a hint of waxiness in some spots. Details are strong an discernible from any reason distance within the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s):

  • Beverly Hills Cop – English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English Audio Description, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Beverly Hills Cop II – English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Beverly Hills Cop III – English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles:

  • Beverly Hills Cop – English, English SDH, Danish, German, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish
  • Beverly Hills Cop II – English, English SDH, Danish, German, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish
  • Beverly Hills Cop III – English, English SDH, Danish, German, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish

Dynamics: All three films come with 5.1 mixes that I believe are the same from their original releases (II and III were released in the UK and abroad). The first one has the weakest mix of the three, feeling a bit light and lacking in having any sort of real punch too it. Crank up your volume a bit and your subwoofer and it should suffice though still leaving much to be desired. The balance and mix overall is sufficient, just the impact is lacking. II and III both have pretty terrific presentations that compliment the action heavy sequences throughout with great feeling.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The first film lacks quite a bit in the subwoofer department. You want a little more blast from the action, but I want Axel F to bump when it comes on. It does disappoint there. The other two films pick up the slack and really rock your room with explosions, crashes, gunfire, glass shattering and the bass in music.

Surround Sound Presentation: The second and third films definitely have some great playfulness with the speakers. Bullets especially zip around the room and environments feel more everpresent.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp for all the films. No real issue with inaudible dialogue or it sounding dated.

Extras

Beverly Hills Cop: 3-Movie Collection is a 3-disc set with each film getting its own disc. This release does NOT include a digital code.

Beverly Hills Cop

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Martin Brest

Isolated Score Track

Deleted Scenes (HD, 3:49) – These are a new addition for this release and look to be sourced from a VHS tape. They are coded HD with a new border and graphics, but the meat is VHS sourced.

Behind The Scenes: 1984 Interviews (HD, 6:49) – This is a 4-part set contain some generic EPK interview stuff from Eddie Murphy and Martin Brest. Its all too short and is again VHS sourced but with some borders and HD encoded.

Beverly Hills Cop: The Phenomenon Begins (SD, 29:11) 

A Glimpse Inside The Casting Process (SD, 9:37)

The Music of Beverly Hills Cop (SD, 7:49)

Location Map

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:33)

BHC Mixtap ’84 – This new feature allows you to pick from the songs “The Heat Is On”, “Neutron Dance”, “New Attitude”, “Do You Really”, “Stir It Up” and “Nasty Girl” and see the scene they play in the movie.

Beverly Hills Cop II

There an no supplemental features for Beverly Hills Cop II.

Beverly Hills Cop III

There an no supplemental features for Beverly Hills Cop III.

Summary

This new Beverly Hills Cop set boasts some good looking and sounding versions of these films, but the release just reeks of overall cheapness. It’d be forgivable a bit had they not passed over both doing a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release AND passing over providing a digital copy code for the films. The new features for the original film are pretty cheap and worthless. And you’re telling me there is NOTHING they could have provided as extras for the two sequels (Not even a trailer!)? The first 2 Beverly Hills Cop movies rock and are worth owning (The first one is always worth owning the best possible version of it), but wait for this set to hit the inevitable $8.99 it’s destined to be.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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