Beverly Hills Cop (1984) released to 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray on Dec. 1, 2020 along with another hit Eddie Murphy film Coming to America (1988). Two other movies starring Murphy, The Golden Child (1986) and Trading Places (1983), have also been restored in 4k but instead released to 1080p Blu-ray Disc as part of the Paramount Presents series of disc editions. Here’s a review of Beverly Hills Cop on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc.
Eddie Murphy stars as Axel Foley, a Detroit police officer who travels to Beverly Hills to find out who murdered one of his best friends. The hit film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1985 and was a blockbuster at the box office earning $235M in the US on a $14M budget.
The movie acted as a springboard for Murphy who had already released two comedy albums, the self-titled Eddie Murphy (1982) and Delirious (1983), and co-starred with Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs. (1982) and with Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places (1983). He would go on to star in three Beverly Hills Cop movies as well as other comedy films such as The Golden Child (1986) and Harlem Nights (1989).
Beverly Hills Cop is categorized as a comedy and action film, but there are bits of drama to the script written by Daniel Petrie Jr. (credited for co-writing the story with Danilo Bach). Murphy delivers in both comedic and serious moments, and he’s convincing as the cocky detective who is out of his element in the sunny and exclusive Beverly Hills, a stark contrast to the gritty back alleys of Detroit.
“I never stayed in a cell with a phone before. Can I stay for a while because I ordered some pizza.” – Axel Foley
But Foley’s street smarts give him an advantage over the play-it-by-the-book cops Rosewood and Taggart (played by Judge Reinhold and John Ashton, respectively) who are assigned to follow him while he’s in town. They soon realize Foley has more than a sixth sense when it comes to detective work, and end up following his lead as he busts a big-time drug smuggler doubled as an art dealer.
In Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy is remembered for his signature laugh, jokes about race and class distinctions, and overall likeability even by the characters who resist him at first. The film is also remembered for its title tune, “Axel F”, written by Harold Faltermeyer. The song was an international synth-pop hit, reaching #3 in Billboard’s Hot 100 list in the US.
On 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray, Beverly Hills Cop is presented in 2160p resolution with HDR10. In 4k, there is certainly more definition in the overall image and in the shadow areas than you would find on the Blu-ray Disc or Digital version. There is also a lot more contrast (see the pic above) than in the Blu-ray presentation which is much flatter and more greyish than on Ultra HD Blu-ray.
The color grading for the HDR10 spec is really where this new 4k Blu-ray print is worth upgrading your 2k Blu-ray. Like a lot of older movies shot on 35mm film, the increase in color depth from HDR can help bring out mid to dark tones that were not able to hold detail in HD (Blu-ray), SD (DVD) and of course VHS renderings. That isn’t to say Beverly Hills Cop looks as good as other 70s and 80s films that have been restored such as The Shining and Back to the Future, but it does look a lot better than 1080p Blu-ray.
Unfortunately, the audio on this 4k Blu-ray edition wasn’t upgraded from the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix found on previous Blu-rays. Let’s just say there isn’t much “pop” to the audio experience. But, it is a good soundtrack with plenty of hit songs like “The Heat Is On” by Glenn Frey, “New Attitude” by Patti LaBelle, and “Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters. As mentioned above the original music by Harold Faltermeyer is immediately recognizable as the theme for the film, and anyone who hears it may feel a sense of nostalgia for the mid-eighties.
There are also French and German audio tracks provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (hearing Murphy in other languages is a real trip), and subtitles are offered in English, English SDH, French, and German.
Previously-released extras (available on the 4k Blu-ray Disc in HD) include behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, the original theatrical trailer, and deleted scenes. The extra bonus BHC Mixtape ‘84” that lets viewers jump to hit songs within the movie. An isolated audio track of the original music score is included (accessible through the Audio Settings) along with commentary by director Martin Brest (found in Extras or Audio Settings). There are also several featurettes in standard definition.
Beverly Hills Cop is a fun trip back to the eighties, and why not travel in style with a brand new 4k HDR presentation? You can really appreciate Eddie Murphy’s talent as a lead man in his delivery and charisma in this movie, which may only be surpassed by his genius on the comedy stage. In 4k, but even more so with HDR, Beverly Hills Cop can be appreciated as if watching it for the first time in theaters back when Murphy was the funniest man in film.