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Beverly Hills Cop (4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital)

Paramount // R // December 1, 2020
List Price: $25.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted December 16, 2020 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

It's nice to see a film at various points within your life and have an evolving point of view with each viewing. Far be it for me to imbue something so profound with Beverly Hills Cop, but I remember renting this from my video store when I was 13 and two things happened while watching it: first, I laughed so hard I was crying because Eddie Murphy's performance was hilarious, hands down. Second was the language in the film took me back a step or two. It's not like I was puritanical or anything, but it was surprising to see how many profanities were used. I had seen Murphy's films before and even for this, it was a surprise. As I've seen it through the years though, while I've still relished the scenes Murphy is in, it's the impact his presence had on other characters (among other things) that have made it fun viewing.

Written by Daniel Petrie Jr. (Shoot to Kill) and directed by Martin Brest (Meet Joe Black), Murphy plays Axel Foley, a young, brash, Detroit police detective who bends rules as far as he can, but manages to secure results in the process. His friend surprises him with a visit after spending time in California, but the two are assaulted and Axel's friend is murdered. Rather than pursue the leads from the case in Detroit, Axel "goes on vacation" to California, specifically Beverly Hills, where he runs into their mutual friend and lets her know of his plans. He bumps into the Beverly Hills police on the way, specifically Detectives Taggart (John Ashton, Gone Baby Gone), Rosewood (Judge Reinhold, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and Lieutenant Bogomill (Ronny Cox, Deliverance). Their by the book way of solving crime goes against Axel's trimming the corners type of style, particularly as Axel closes in on a local businessman responsible for the murder (Steven Berkoff, The Tourist).

The movie itself couldn't have been released at a more opportune moment. Murphy was still wowing audiences on a weekly basis on Saturday Night Live and following a year when 48 Hours received both popular and critical attention, and his stand-up special Delirious became a touchstone for many comics today. Yet Murphy's casting as the lead in what was primarily an action film was a bit of a surprise at the time, particularly when one looks at the action names tossed around for the lead initially. But Murphy managed to carry the story along well, using a mix of adequate acting and comic genius that far exceeded his 23 years of age at the time of the film's release. He managed to still produce a laugh or two that could have very easily been pulled from his act, but his adaptability to the story made for laughs beyond what others could have acquired in the Foley role. His style of police work and good-natured personality was infectious not only for the viewer, but for Taggart and Rosewood, whose stiff outward nature loosens up as the film goes on.

It's the last part that I've grown to love and appreciate more through the years, and specifically Reinhold's performance in it. You could almost tell Billy Rosewood was a guy who has never interacted with a black man aside from escorting him out of somewhere or flat out arresting him. But Axel shows Billy that one can seemingly enjoy life and their work, even as that work puts their respective lives on the line. That's the part I've grown to love over the years, particularly as Murphy's hilarity still holds up more than a quarter century since the film was released, where countless others have tried (and failed) to steal the formula Brest and company managed to hit a homer with.

It's for that reason that Beverly Hills Cop remains fun to come back around to and revisit after all these years. The story is what it is, but Murphy helps make it funny and the cast do a great job being his straight men. While it might not be Ikiru (where thoughts on it can change from viewing to viewing), Beverly Hills Cop has some newfound appreciation for many others like myself.

The UHD:
The Video:

So this was remastered last year ahead of a a trilogy rerelease, and I've long forgotten about the Blu-ray from back in the day. And the Dolby Vision for this is good; colors are really sharp, flesh tones are natural and beading of sweat on Taggard's head in the strip club can even be discerned, and film grain is present throughout. But there are moments of haloing that can be picked out in moments like when Axel is swinging from the truck in the opening chase, or when he and Jenny go to his hotel, that can be spotted quickly, and they persist for stretches of the disc. It is a solid reproduction, but is not without its flaws here.

The Sound:

I don't know if this is the same track I heard almost a decade ago, or if a new soundtrack was done for the earlier release, but listening to it for the first time in a minute, I still feel like the soundtrack is sort of…present? The songs sound clear, dialogue is consistent, but the low-end tends to lack in bigger moments. Given the source material I guess it's fine, but I guess with the 4K label on the case you expect a little more.

Extras:

So the stuff from the Save for a stills gallery, the extras from the 2002 standard def release and the 2011 Blu-ray are here, with the UHD on one disc with some extras and the prior released stuff on the second disc with the Blu-ray. Brest provides a commentary track for the film that's underwhelming. He has some recall of what occurred on the production, but it's hidden behind long stretches of watching the film, introducing cast members or laughing occasionally at Murphy's comic rants. He also talks about the shots and style of the film then compared to similar films since then. It's not a revealing track by any means, but it's nice to have here.

Following that is "The Phenomenon Begins" (29:11), a retrospective documentary on the phone, its genesis, production and subsequent legacy, featuring interviews with the cast and crew. The cast discuss how they came to the film and how Brest was attached to it. Each discuss what it was like to work with Murphy and there is an on-set anecdote here and there. It's a decent piece, though nothing special. Following that, "A Glimpse Inside the Casting Process" (9:37) is where Casting Director Margery Simpkin recounts when she first saw the actors and what particularly struck her about each, and the actors discuss getting the parts. "The Music of Beverly Hills Cop" (7:49) looks at Faltermeyer's music without actually interviewing him, and Brest talks about working with him and scenes with music in them are used to illustrate what was said in the interviews. A location map of the Beverly Hills locales follows, along with a trailer (2:33).

Final Thoughts:

It is nice to revisit Beverly Hills Cop every near-decade or so, and have it further validate that it is funny and still seems to generally hold up after so long, and seeing a star furthering his path into movies after a famed run on SNL and still be so young (Murphy was 23 when it came out!), it is still a nice ride. Technically the UHD is fine but not perfect, and if you have seen the extras before, you've seen them here too, so you are only going for the UHD bump up. If it is cheap enough, why not I guess, plus you get a digital copy.

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