In preparation for the original December 2020 release of Coming 2 America, Paramount Pictures, with great anticipation, organized a wealth of home release material to celebrate Eddie Murphy. Even though audiences now have to wait until March 2021 for Coming 2 America to release (on Amazon Prime Video), they can still get their Eddie Murphy fix thanks to four new editions of his classic movies dropping in stores. Join Axel Foley on his first trip to Beverly Hills or Prince Akeem to America in their respective comedy hits Beverly Hills Cop and Coming To America on 4K UHD for the first time. The other two releases, the breakout comedy Trading Places and the beleaguered action-comedy The Golden Child, are joining the premium Paramount Presents label. Whether you already own these films, have been waiting for the right time to upgrade, or are just looking for a gift for that special someone this holiday season, any or all of these releases are bound to delight.
Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America available on 4K UHD Combo Packs December 1st, 2020.
Trading Places and The Golden Child available on Paramount Presents Bluray December 1st, 2020.
Beverly Hills Cop
I could write at length about how wonderful Beverly Hills Cop is in terms of Daniel Petrie Jr.’s script (the ease with which each of the characters are seamlessly connected giving each one natural motivation), Murphy’s performance (a superb balance of comedy and drama to convey Foley’s way of subverting expectations), and the music, but that’s been done, so this will focus on the new release only. For its first time on 4K UHD, Beverly Hills Cop scores in the presentation department and only in that area. If you’ve owned this release before, you likely already own all the bonus features included in the 4K UHD Bluray Combo Pack as they were available previously. This means that the only justification for picking it up is the new format and it’s totally worth it. More than just the great score from Harold Faltermeyer or the timeless tunes that make up the banging soundtrack (listening to it as I type), the sound is fantastic as the dialogue comes in crisp and clear thanks to the mixing being perfect, requiring no continuous adjustment to compensate for action vs. dialogue. Visually speaking, the HDR really shines (no pun intended) during strip club sequence, the pink neon against the dark corners of the club feeling vibrant without over-saturating. Similarly, the HDR wonderfully conveys the intended contrast between Foley’s home town of Detroit, being more greasy and less cultured, against Beverly Hills, highly fabricated and overly clean. There is a present grain indicative of the source material but it’s not so present as to distract from the film proper.
Beverly Hills Cop Special Features
- Commentary by director Martin Brest
- Beverly Hills Cop—The Phenomenon Begins (SD)
- A Glimpse Inside the Casting Process (SD)
- The Music of Beverly Hills Cop (SD)
- Deleted scenes (HD)
- Behind-the-scenes featurettes incorporating vintage 1984 interviews (HD)
- An isolated audio track of the original score by Harold Faltermeyer
- “BHC Mixtape ‘84”, which allows viewers to go directly to the scenes featuring the hit songs “The Heat Is On,” “Neutron Dance,” “New Attitude,” “Stir It Up,” “Do You Really,” and “Nasty Girl.”
- Location Map
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)
Coming To America
By the time Coming To America had released, Murphy had released 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, The Golden Child, and Beverly Hills Cop II. With a string of successes and one definite miss, odds were in Murphy’s favor for Coming To America, especially by re-teaming with Trading Places director John Landis and gathering together many of cinemas notable performers (in varying stages of their career) to tell a unique duck-out-of-water romance story. If made today, it would likely be full of caricatures and tropes, making light of minorities even while they serve as the protagonists of the story. Upon a recent rewatch, the screenplay from David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein from a story by Murphy continues to resonate as it explores cultural traditions, gender roles, and classism, all while piling on the laughter without reducing the drama.
So how does it handle on 4K UHD? Fit for a prince.
Once more the HDR only heightens what’s already present, like the vibrancy of the African nation of Zamunda and its peoples versus the contrasting derelict nature of Queens, New York, the costumes, and sets. In the scene where Akeem (Murphy) and Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley) sit on the swingset outside her home, the HDR helps accentuate the reds in their clothes so that you can actually tell that not only is the material different, but that the shades themselves are compatible but not the same. This is where HDR is truly valuable: it doesn’t make a film better, it simply presents the images in a more natural way. That said, the one serious visual effect component, the mighty work of special F/X artist Rick Baker (Men in Black/Hellboy) making Murphy and scene partner Arsenio Hall disappear into the several other characters they play, still looks fantastic and the non-discerning audience member can barely tell which character is portrayed by Murphy/Hall or just a regular actor. The sound is also treated well, though as a non-effects driven film (see: action set pieces), there’s no concern over losing dialogue amid any kind of stunt sequence. Regarding the bonus features, there is nothing new added from prior releases, so the big determining factor over whether you’ll pick this up is whether you want the new format or not. Do keep in mind that in addition to the regular 4K UHD release, there is also a limited edition steelbook which includes a poster for Sexual Chocolate’s 1988 World Tour.
Coming To America Special Features
- Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America
- Fit For Akeem: The Costumes of Coming to America
- Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker
- Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers
- A Vintage Sit-Down with Eddie & Arsenio
- Theatrical Trailer
Disclaimer: Released in 1983, the John Landis-directed comedy is considered one of Murphy’s best films and possibly one of his most enduring. This is, however, my least favorite of the four Murphy films in this collection as everyone but Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) seems to be an all-around asshole. This isn’t the first time the Dukes (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) have done something like this, Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) presumes Billy Ray is assaulting and robbing him when they meet, Coleman (Denholm Elliott) goes along with it because he works for the Dukes, and Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) doesn’t mind getting involved in a couple’s dispute for a measly hundo. Even though the scene at the Stock Exchange is a favorite, all the work leading up to it is a slog.
As the 12th addition to the Paramount Presents line, Trading Places is given the remaster treatment from a 4K film transfer supervised by Landis himself. While the audio certainly seems improved, the remaster is not as impressive as other Presents releases. Frankly, the presentation looks about as improved as a DVD given the upconvert treatment from a Bluray player. This could be because the film itself is particularly drab, using a great deal of natural tones in the set, production, and costuming. Despite the clear riches involved in the narrative, there’s not as much opulence present in the dramedy so any kind of improvement is difficult to discern. Included with this edition are several previously bonus materials along with one brand new featurette from Landis discussing the legacy of Trading Places. These “Filmmaker Focus” featurettes are a fairly regular staple of the Paramount Presents line and offer an opportunity to look a little deeper into a film beloved by many. If the usual refinements (mini-poster slip cover, see-through case to allow for scenes from the film to accompany the disc, digital code) aren’t enough to consider a purchase, Paramount is also releasing a 4K UHD version of the film on digital only.
Trading Places Special Features
- *NEW* Filmmaker Focus: Director John Landis on Trading Places (HD) (8:47)
- Deleted Scenes
- Insider Trading: The Making of Trading Places
- Dressing the Part
- The Trade in Trading Places
- Trading Stories
- Industry Promotional Piece
- Theatrical Trailer
The Golden Child
First, a disclaimer: I have no recollection of ever seeing The Golden Child, but I know my brothers have seen it and my house was very pro-Eddie Murphy, so I’m sure I had prior to checking out this release, except it felt entirely like a first-time watch and — oof — what a watch it is.
Released in 1986, this action-comedy should’ve been perfect for Murphy coming off of Beverly Hills Cop as he plays a social worker/detective who gets pulled into a battle of good vs. evil. In a weird way, if you squint a bit, Murphy’s Chandler Jarrell is just Axel Foley battling demons, actual demons, and not just smugglers. Created from writer Dennis Feldman’s script, The Golden Child feels very much like director John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, which hit theaters five months before Child. The biggest difference being that Jarrell is the lead character in his story whereas Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton is very much not. It works for Big Trouble because that film is about a mystic war within the Chinese community and Burton is along for the ride. Jarrell, however, is just as mouthy as Burton, constantly cracking jokes, taking virtually nothing seriously, and yet somehow wins the day. In short, Jarrell is Foley dialed to 11 without any of the ability to take moments seriously. Combined with a synth score from Michel Colombier that rarely fit the moment and, even if it did, was often blasted over scenes rather than was used to support them, the end result is an amusing vehicle for Murphy but nothing particularly memorable. You do get some particularly delicious scenery-chewing moments from Charles Dance (Last Action Hero/Game of Thrones), as well as the origin of that fantastic Charles Dance “applause” gif that goes around frequently, but the bulk of The Golden Child is basically an American version of the chopsocky subgenre of martial arts films.
Audiences are treated to a first-time release of The Golden Child on Bluray, created from a 4K film transfer, as an addition to the Paramount Presents line. There is a bit of visible grain, once more brought over from the source material, but nothing that detracts or distracts from the film overall. With the exception of the score often overpowering dialogue, the mix is good and easy on the ears. Like previous releases of this line, The Golden Child is accompanied by a slipcover whose front opens to reveal a mini-version of the theatrical poster (mimicked on the front of the cover), makes use of a clear case so as to show off a variety of scenes when opened, and does include a featurette about the making of The Golden Child, bringing the total number of included featurettes to two. Even if The Golden Child is low on your list of Murphy films, it’s still a fun film whose positives outweigh the minuses.
The Golden Child Special Features
- *NEW* Making of The Golden Child (HD)
- The Chosen Ones (6:48)
- Daggers, Design and Demons (6:37)
- Theatrical Trailer