Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

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Released 7-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Martin Brest (Director)
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Casting Beverly Hills Cop
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Location Map
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-The Music Of Beverly Hills Cop
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 100:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Martin Brest
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Eddie Murphy
Judge Reinhold
John Ashton
Lisa Eilbacher
Ronny Cox
Steven Berkoff
James Russo
Jonathan Banks
Stephen Elliott
Gilbert R. Hill
Art Kimbro
Joel Bailey
Bronson Pinchot
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Danny Elfman
Harold Faltermeyer
Jon Gilutin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Spanish
Croatian
Greek
Hebrew
Portuguese
Slovenian
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Lots of stores on Rodeo Drive.
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Heat Is On. At least that's what ex-Eagle Glen Frey tells us while singing the iconic opening song of Beverly Hills Cop. In this case he is correct on a number of levels. The heat is literally on as I write these words in the middle of an Australian summer. There are 37 degrees of heat beating down on me at the moment. The heat was also on for the cast and crew of the film. The original star signed on for the project was Sylvester Stallone, and it was going to be a full-on action movie. The studio was becoming nervous about the rising costs as Stallone added more and more action sequences into the film, so at the last minute they pulled the plug. Luckily for them, Stallone stepped aside gracefully (he could have demanded his full wages as compensation), and Eddie Murphy stepped into the breach.

    There were now only two weeks to go until production was due to begin. Major changes had to be made to the script as the action was toned down in favour of comedy and character interaction. Much of the dialogue that was removed was later used in the Stallone vehicle Cobra. The relationships in the film had to be changed drastically; the character of Mikey went from being Stallone's brother to Murphy's childhood friend. Lisa Eilbacher saw her role change from love interest to another friend of Murphy's. Script updates were often delivered to the set only 5 minutes before shooting.

    Amazingly. it all came together perfectly. In fact, the film is a lot better than Cobra eventually turned out to be (Cobra being a bit of below-par post Rambo action fluff). Part of this success must be due to Director Martin Brest, who mentions in one of the documentaries on the DVD that he is a big fan of improvisational techniques - they were used heavily in this film. As a successful live comedian, Eddie Murphy also brought his experience to bear to the benefit of many scenes.

    I imagine that most of you will have seen this film before, probably a number of times. Just to keep the boss happy I will run briefly through the story. Eddie Murphy plays Axel Foley, a brash young member of the Detroit police force. We meet him in the opening scenes trying to run a sting operation involving a truckload of 'hot' cigarettes he has 'borrowed' from the police impound. This leads to a great chase sequence where the truck demolishes half of the city to the pounding beat of the Pointer Sisters' Neutron Dance. The scene has been set - the heat is definitely on.

    After being berated by his boss for his "blatant disregard for proper procedure" (which he shows a lot of during the film), Axel returns to his apartment. He finds it has been broken into by his friend Mikey, an old partner in juvenile crime. Axel has gone straight - it is apparent that Mikey hasn't, as he has with him a satchel of German bearer bonds of dubious origin which he has apparently stolen from his boss in Beverly Hills. Some professional hit men knock Axel out and kill his friend. When Axel recovers he takes some leave from work, and heads out to the West Coast to find the killers. The rest of the film follows his quest as his unorthodox techniques and street-smart attitude clash with the buttoned-down Beverly Hills police.

    The film was a tremendous box-office success and is seen by many (including this writer) as the defining moment in Eddie Murphy's career. While his career has had its ups and downs over the years, he is stunning in this film; from his winningly cheeky smile as Foley to his superb over-the-top turn posing as "Ramone". My significant other was so impressed on viewing this film that she wanted to go straight on to watching the sequel. Only my iron will and professional pride (ha ha) allowed me to head for the PC to type these words rather than go along with her suggestion. The film works on many levels; it is an excellent action-comedy, plus the clash of cultures between the working class Foley and the upper-class attitude of the Beverly Hills police is nicely portrayed. There is also a great supporting cast, with Judge Reinhold and John Ashton outstanding as Beverly Hills cops Rosewood and Taggart. Also, watch out for Bronson Pinchot as Serge - he is only on the screen for a few minutes, but will make an impression that will last far longer.

    I was also interested to find that the film is holding its age very well. There have been many big-budget films in the Action-Comedy genre since this one. Few are as memorable (check out the scene where Foley is arrested for being thrown out of a window). The only minor flaw that stops me giving it the full five stars for plot is that occasionally the pace lags to allow time for some exposition. As Brest notes in the commentary, all of the expository scenes are required to keep the story comprehensible, especially the early scene establishing the bond between Mikey and Axel, but that one in particular does slow the pace unexpectedly. Don't get me wrong though, this film moves along at breakneck speed and you will be left wanting more when the final credits roll. Finish reading my review, then go out and buy this now if you haven't already. If you are in a hurry and can't wait, the picture and sound are fine, and the Extras are very good.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is good, though dated; fans will not be disappointed.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is acceptably close to the theatrical release ratio of 1.85:1.

    The film is reasonably sharp. At times the focus becomes a little soft for my liking, but it should please most viewers. Shadow detail is good throughout (see 17:12 and 34:48 for examples of excellent night shots). There is some minor grain apparent but it does not detract from the viewing experience.

    The colours are nice, though a little dated in appearance. They brighten up considerably once the film moves from Detroit to Beverly Hills, so part of the effect may have been by design.

    There are no MPEG artefacts of note. Some minor aliasing can be seen on the Venetian blinds at 26:59 and on a striped tie at 20:56 (I wish DVD authors would watch out for scenes like these and make appropriate adjustments in production to minimise the effect). Minor film artefacts also occur throughout (see 20:51 and 35:58) but they are small and infrequent on what is a good print overall.

    The subtitles are interesting. You have nine of them to choose from (plus another four for the commentary). The English ones I viewed generally do quite a good job of matching the spoken word, except when Murphy gets going. They just have no chance when he is in "motor-mouth" mode.

    This is a dual-layered disc, with the layer change at 70:12. It is brief and between two scenes and so does not affect the flow of the action.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer of the film is quite good, though not matching more recent efforts. This is still a nice presentation which appears to have been remixed from Dolby Surround to Dolby Digital.

    There are 5 audio tracks on the DVD. The main one is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer presented at a transfer rate of 448 Kb/s. The audio commentary is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track presented at 224 Kb/s. There are three Dolby Digital 2.0 foreign language tracks with a transfer rate of 224 Kb/s (French, Italian and Spanish). I listened to the two English tracks in full, and segments of the Spanish track, which was an unusual experience. The Spanish track include Murphy's laughter, but his speech was dubbed and sounded nothing at all like him, which was rather surreal. Listening to this mess convinced me even more that dubbed tracks should be banned. Take my advice - stick to the native language and subtitles, as so much of the meaning is conveyed in the voice of the original actors.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand, so that all of Murphy's rapid-fire delivery came across as intended. Audio sync is also very good.

    The music in this film is excellent, and from the Extras presented on the disc it is apparent that the music was integral to the plot and to the action scenes in particular. There are two elements to the music in the film; the popular songs and the music by Harold Faltermeyer. They are both nicely represented in the sound mix, and each plays a part in the overall enjoyment of the film. Axel's Theme by Faltermeyer will stick with you for some time after viewing. It is as memorable in its way as the James Bond theme and is used in similar ways in this film, to highlight Axel doing his thing.

    The surround presence and level of activity are a little disappointing. Sound effects are a little thin at times and only the music projects much beyond the front of the soundstage. Given the remix that was necessary to get the film to 5.1 this is probably understandable, and I must stress that you will most likely be reasonably happy with the result. The same holds true for the subwoofer which sees more activity as support for the music than for sound effects. The explosions sound OK, but not as full as they might in a more modern film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The film is supported by a good selection of Extras, most of which are of high quality. For once this is a "Special Collector's Edition" which is deserving of the name.

Menu

    The menu is animated and 16x9 enhanced. From here you can choose to View the Movie, select Audio Options, choose Subtitles, access Special Features or go to Scene Selections (only 11 of those). The Extras are discussed below in the order they appear on the Special Features menu.

Audio Commentary - Director Martin Brest

    For someone who favours improvisational techniques, Director Martin Brest does not make a very good off-the-cuff speaker. He implies at the start of his commentary that he was waylaid with little notice to record the commentary; I don't know how true that is, but it certainly sounds like it. While he provides a reasonable amount of interesting background to the film and key scenes, he also spends a lot of time admiring his handiwork while the film runs on behind his silence, at full volume. As the audio level of the commentary is rather low, this means that the frequent film segments without commentary can be uncomfortably loud. Even Brest states that "I don't know if this qualifies as commentary, I'm getting hypnotized here".

    If you dislike commentaries I would give this one a miss, as many of the topics he discusses are also covered in the other Extras on the DVD. If you love the film, there is enough of interest here for you to listen once to it for completeness. As one example, Brest discusses a trade-off he had to make to retain one scene he felt was crucial for character development. The studio felt the film was too long and wanted to cut the scene - he was able to keep it only by retaining the final freeze-frame, which he felt was a bit cheesy (I like it).

Cast & Crew Interviews - The Phenomenon Begins

    This is a very interesting documentary which runs for 27:59 and is presented at 1.33:1 with film excerpts at 1.85:1. Most of the major figures in the cast and crew comment on their memories of the production and most of them are very good speakers (with the notable exception of Murphy who does not come across too well!). I have summarised some of the background for the film earlier in the review - check this one out for the rest of the fascinating story (including the fact that Murphy's boss is played by a real-life Homicide detective).

Casting Beverly Hills Cop

    In this relatively brief segment (9:13) we meet Casting Director Margery Simkin who elaborates on some of the information presented in the earlier feature. As she notes, it is unusual to see a film where the support cast are chosen before the star comes on board (as I noted, the film was originally meant to star Sylvester Stallone). There is some insight here as to how the chemistry still worked in spite of this difficulty.

Theatrical Trailer

    You either love these or think they are a waste of space. Personally, I find them an interesting insight into the way the film was presented to its intended audience. This one is not bad, nicely edited and almost as slick as the main feature. It runs for 2:26 and is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. I think this one convinced me to go and see the film when it was originally released.

Location Map

    We are presented here with a map of Los Angeles and the ability to select 7 film locations; doing so highlights the location on the map. If you then hit the "Enter" key (or equivalent) on your DVD player remote you are taken to a brief segment where Production Designer Angelo P. Graham outlines background facts about filming at that location. These brief clips (their length varies from 0:26 to 1:39) are quite informative and the feature, while a little gimmicky, works well.

Photo Gallery

    This is pretty much standard for this sort of thing, though a little light on. There are 32 reasonable quality photographs of the cast and crew at work.

The Music of Beverly Hills Cop

    This segment provides further insight into the selection of the songs for the film, and the work of composer Faltermeyer. Unfortunately, the man himself is not interviewed though there is some interesting insight into song placement and the influence exerted by music companies keen to have potential hit songs highlighted. In this case, one song was bumped because the director preferred the song Nasty Girl chosen by real-life stripper "Mouse" to accompany her act in the night-club scene.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this DVD appears to have the same content as the local one. Reviews I have read suggest the same issues as on the local disc. Given the superiority of the PAL picture, the Region 4 is the preferred version.

Summary

    This is an excellent DVD presentation for a very popular film. The film itself is one of the better Action-Comedies you will see, with star Eddie Murphy at his prime backed up by a brilliant supporting cast, snappy dialogue, lively soundtrack and crisp editing. This one should be in your collection.

    The video quality is good, though a little dated.

    The audio quality is also good, with the music and dialogue well presented but the sound effects slightly disappointing by comparison.

    The Extras package provides a lot of interesting background on the film and its production - what more could you ask?

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationKenwood
SpeakersKenwood

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