Rent-A-Cop (1987)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 24-Apr-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 92:23 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jerry London

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Burt Reynolds
Liza Minelli
James Remar
Richard Masur
Bernie Casey
John Stanton
John P. Ryan
Dionne Warwick
Robby Benson
Case C-Button-Version 2-Opaque
RPI ? Music Jerry Goldsmith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, What time is it? Here, let me look at my Seiko.
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Frank Church is a hard-edged police detective in charge of breaking a large drug syndicate. After much painstaking work, he's about to get the pay-off. But things go wrong when during the raid, a mysterious man in black cuts down just about everyone in a hail of machine gun bullets. In the end, there are only two survivors: Frank and a streetwise call girl named Della. It just so happens that she is the only one who has seen the mysterious killer. The killer knows this, and after his failed attempt to kill her, she turns to the now former detective Church. After being blamed for the failed raid which saw most of his squad mates gunned down and the money and drugs stolen, Frank has been driven from the force and now works as a private detective. While reluctant at first to take on Della as a new client, her persistence and a further attempt on her life convinces Church to take on the call girl's case. During his investigations, Church discovers a drug network that encompasses former cops and pillars of the Chicago aristocracy. This eventually leads to a showdown between Frank, the drug syndicate and the mysterious man in black.

    Well folks, it doesn't get any more 'original' than this. A hard-nosed police detective, tossed off the force after wrongly being blamed for a bust gone wrong. The lone surviving witness being a streetwise call girl with a heart of gold. The initial resentment from the ex-cop. The eventual romance. The final showdown. This is so 'by the numbers' that it isn't funny. We have all seen this storyline before and we have seen in done much better (Klute: 1971, anyone?). The whole cop-on-edge and hooker-with-heart storyline takes a lot to make it shine as it is a well-worn plot device. This film tries to rely on the charm of its two main stars: Burt Reynolds, the former 70s "Sexiest Man Alive" and star of Deliverance: 1972 and the 1997 classic Boogie Nights, and Liza Minnelli whose star shone in the 1972 great Cabaret and the 1981 hit Arthur with Dudley Moore. These two have starred together before in the the Action/Comedy film Lucky Lady: 1975 which also featured Gene Hackman and they sometimes have a funny rapport: Della to Church, "I betcha you had a lotta dates with a lotta different girls...when you were young", but this is far from enough to save this limp film with its 2 dimensional characters and storyline. Even the ever-reliable Jerry Goldsmith's score lacks any sort of punch that we have come to expect from his scores after stellar efforts on Star Trek: The Motion Picture (featuring one of this reviewer's favourite scores), Alien: 1979 and more recently The Mummy:1999. Director Jerry London shows his TV roots with almost all of his former and subsequent directorial efforts taking place in the television domain, including the TV mini-series Shogun in 1980 and newer shows such as JAG and Chicago Hope. Michael Rooker of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer: 1986/1989 makes an early appearance as an extra and is one of the first faces we see on screen. Sadly, he ends up only being an extra and we get no contribution from him which is too bad, as this film could have used a bit of charisma and youth. Australian actor John Stanton plays an upper-crust baddy with an undisguised Australian accent. Robbie Benson also features (he also starred in Lucky Lady with Burt and Liza).

    So here we have it; the proof that a film is certainly not the sum of its various parts. We have seen all here in better films playing better roles. There is unfortunately not much here to recommend and this film seems to roll along with predictability and lack of originality. With films such as Lethal Weapon: 1987 out at around the same time as this picture, it is no wonder that Rent-A-Cop has faded from most people's memories - there isn't much to remember.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer to DVD, whilst not anywhere near perfect, is slightly better than that afforded to the Region 1 version of this movie.

    The feature is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. There is, however, no 16x9 enhancement.

    The sharpness of the image presented here suffers from what seems to be a range of issues. Firstly, the age of the print used. The print has undergone no obvious restoration and whilst fairly clean, seems to have faded slightly over the years. Secondly, we have a non-16x9 enhanced version here, so we do lose out on a fair amount of possible resolution. Lastly, the compression used on this disc leaves what looks on the surface to be very fine MPEG pixelization which almost looks like grain (2:40, 4:54). These factors hinder greatly any real level of sharpness that we would otherwise have. Shadow detail, because of the aforementioned factors, is fairly lacking during the film's several darker scenes as well as just about any dark areas seen during the feature (as displayed at 12:49 and 13:11). Low level noise is quite hard to detect with this title due to the overabundant level of MPEG pixelization. At times, this reviewer got the distinct impression that low level noise was present, but in fact the image was affected by the MPEG compression and in the end a pixelated low level noise combination was visible. Whatever it is, it's not pretty.

    Colour use for this feature is reasonably natural and in the context of the film's era of production. At times the image seems slightly washed-out due to age, but since we are not looking at any sort of restored print, colour use is as good as could be expected.

    As stated before, MPEG artefacts are a problem with this title. As with other Force Video titles that this reviewer has sampled (these are The Best of Times and Homer and Eddie), this transfer suffers from an excessive level of almost grain-like pixelization. This artefact pervades every frame of the image committed to this disc and is overtly visible at 67:08-67:09 (frame advance at these times to see how bad it can get) and 82:55. These times are just examples and this artefact can readily be seen throughout the feature. There is also a compression artefact problem that at times gives the image an almost telecine wobble effect. This is readily visible at 10:46 and also at 17:47 at the top of the pillar to the right (on screen) of Church where the top of the said pillar seems to expand and contract as the camera pulls back. This type of artefact is visible at various times during this presentation. Normal telecine wobble is quite visible during the end credit sequence with much side to side movement. Film artefacts are present during this feature but are minor, mostly consisting of white and black specks that are visible during the feature from time to time.

    There are no subtitles available with this title.

    As this disc is formatted as a single layer, a layer change is not an issue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer on this DVD is reasonably good considering the age of the title and its commitment to disc.

    There is only one audio mix available with this title, that being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track.

    Dialogue quality is quite good with the spoken word very understandable throughout the film. There is an underlying hiss apparent during this feature. This audio artefact takes the form of what used to be called "tape hiss" before the advent of digital recording. It's not as evident in today's film audio tracks but is reasonably common with older titles such as this one. It is not an overly distracting artefact and may probably be unnoticeable if the viewer uses the audio system built into their display device, however, playback through a quality sound system will reveal the artefact. There is also some obvious looping of dialogue into scenes that is quite noticeable (see 36:52 for an example).

    Audio sync is fairly good and with the exception of the aforementioned looped dialogue presents no real issues.

    The music for this feature was composed by the famed and accomplished film score legend Jerry Goldsmith. That said, the score for this film is not one of Jerry's better compositions. The sound is quite dated with what would have meant to be a "contemporary" score provided. Instead, the score only enhances the mediocre character of this film and stands in stark contrast to a score such as the one for the 1982 hit 48 Hrs. which featured a contemporary-styled soundtrack by film score composer James Horner. A score such as that would have served this film much better than what we eventually got.

    We are presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack with this title and within the limitations of the old Pro Logic system, we have a reasonable amount of surround activity. This is apparent in mostly atmospherics, but does serve the material fairly well.

    As is the case with the surround channels, so it is with the low frequency signal derived from this 2.0 track. Most of the subwoofer's sound comes from the musical numbers in the picture and the score. There is not really any stand-out low level signal and the subwoofer plays a supporting role as is expected.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    We have a bare bones disc here with little to offer in the way of extras.


    After the distributor's logos and copyright warnings, we are presented with the Main Menu, which features a static background image similar to the DVD's cover (and exactly the same image as the Region 1 cover) with Church embracing Della in a very protective manner, gun in hand. This menu offers us the following options:     The audio for this menu is the title theme for the picture and is presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio. The audio plays for 50 seconds and if no selection is made, the disc defaults to Play. The menu is displayed in what seems to be a 1.78:1 matted aspect ratio with more matting at the bottom of the image than at top. There is no 16x9 enhancement on any of the menus except for the IML Digital Media Melbourne disc mastering logo at the start which is 16x9 enhanced.

    The Scenes menu offers us a choice of 4 chapters (out of a total of 12) with black and white static images in the style of a police file. Each image has its chapter title listed underneath. This menu features music and dialogue (Della's) from the film. This audio will play for 15 seconds and if no selection is made, the next set of chapters is made available. This will continue on forever if no selection is made.

Trailer:  2:08

    This trailer presents the film in the typical 80s style with the spin on both the love interest and action angles. There is much less shadow detail visible during this trailer and more grain and film artefacts are visible during this trailer. The image is presented full frame. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

     This title is available in Region 1 with several differences between their copy and ours in R4.

    The Region 4 version misses out on:

    The Region 1 version misses out on:     Given the local affordability and the option of having this film in its original aspect ratio, this would have to lead you to the fact that the Region 4 version comes out ahead of the Region 1 version.


    Here we have two very talented actors surrounded by an accomplished and professional cast and crew in a film that gives us too little return on our investment of time and money and features a tired plot formula that we have seen done better before.

    The video is fairly bad with many video flaws visible, including a great deal of pixelization and compression artefacts.

    The audio works but features a underlying hum that can be heard throughout this title. Other than that, a listenable 2 channel surround-encoded track is on offer.

    The extras are almost non-existent with only a Theatrical Trailer available.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Thursday, August 22, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE