After taking audiences around to the globe down the highway to the danger zone, director Tony Scott (Top Gun) helmed a second adventure for one of cinemas most emblematic detectives, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy), as he returned to Beverly Hills for a brand-new adventure. Released 35 years ago in May 1987, Beverly Hills Cop II reunited Murphy, Judge Reinhold (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), John Ashton (Gone Baby Gone), and Ronny Cox (RoboCop) to go on a different adventure with the same hijinks and stakes that were just as personal. Boasting cinematography from frequent collaborator Jeffrey L. Kimball (Top Gun) and another bouncy soundtrack, Beverly Hills Cop II should feel like more of the same, yet it still manages to become its own story. Thanks to Paramount Pictures, Beverly Hills Cop II receives a 4K UHD remaster with Dolby Vision and HDR-10 and Dolby 5.1 DTS Master Audio, making you ready to shakedown in a whole new way.
When Axel Foley left for Beverly Hills to find justice for his friend Mikey Tandino (James Russo), he didn’t expect to find new friends in the form of BHPD officers Detective Billy Rosewood (Reinhold), Sargent Taggart (Ashton), and Lieutenant Bogomil (Cox). However, in the three years since their meeting, the quartet not only keeps in touch, they plan trips together. Unfortunately, before they can gather for a fishing trip, Bogomil is shot, prompting Foley to leave Detroit mid-undercover case to help Rosewood and Taggart figure out who did it. They each suspect it’s connected to a string of robberies, locally called the “Alphabet Crimes,” but Police Chief Harold Lutz (Allen Garfield) keeps putting politics over police work. Now seems like the right time for an unconventional approach.
There’s no way for me to tell you when I first saw Beverly Hills Cop II, but I know for certain it wasn’t in a theater. Not even six when it was released, I likely hadn’t seen the first film yet. However, in my youth, this sequel was a staple, a film we frequently rented from the video store, along with other notable Eddie Murphy and Tony Scott releases. It’s for this reason that, for the longest time, I felt like II was the preferred film over the original due to its quippiness, jaunty pace, and lines that, to a pre-pubescent kid, were hilarious (“Follow your dick!”). As an adult, though, II more clearly suffers from sequelitis, mimicking much of what made the first film fun but not really adding anything. There’s another scene of Foley lying his way in to see someone using nothing more than a character and a prop, another incident at a strip club, and, despite having friends on the force, he’s still working around local law enforcement on a personal matter. What happens in between feels very much like what current audiences expect from a Tony Scott film — well-structured action, intelligent characters played by gifted actors (The Last Boyscout; Man on Fire) — and it certainly entertains, even if it’s easier to see that the magic of the original isn’t quite captured once more. Despite this feeling, there’s something joyous about watching Foley, Rosewood, and Taggart bullshitting their way through one situation into another. Looking backward through time, it’s also easier to see that the premise itself is also pretty remarkable, with the only way to solve these two specific cases is through the skills of a Black cop. Sure, Foley follows a lot of the tropes of any “rogue cop” story, but the lead is typically white. Here, there’s an obvious exploration of race and class. It may be copaganda, but the Beverly Hills Cop series does put a Black man in the driver’s seat, creating the sense of, at a time when racial tensions were just as prevalent as now, a tiny bit of equity.
Technically speaking, the anniversary edition is given the 4K UHD treatment with Dolby Vision and HDR-10, as well as Dolby 5.1 DTS Master Audio (for home stereos with that capability). There’s no information available to know who completed the remaster or supervised the process. This doesn’t appear to be a upscaling of the previous Blu-ray release as the presentation looks in-line with other restorations from original negatives (something which makes the 4K UHD remaster an improvement over upscaling). The color balance is particularly important with Beverly Hills Cop II as Kimball and Scott present a similar visual look as Top Gun, the sky possessing an unnatural orange haze despite the more natural coloring around it. The visual representation of the sky is common in other Scott films, presenting a sense of hyperreality (Domino; Man on Fire). The application of HDR merely makes the colors pop a bit more, while other scenes have a more natural presentation of color. The whites are bright without glaring, the darks are inky, and the whole of the film feels more organic visually. The costumes and production design might scream late ‘80s, but the look doesn’t have to. Similarly, the audio is nicely balanced, dialogue coming through clearly from the center speaker and ambient sounds more noticeable as necessary through the surrounding speakers. This translates to very little need for tinkering once a nice decibel setting is found, enabling you to just sit back and enjoy Foley’s escapades.
The strange thing about this anniversary edition is that there’s not a single bonus feature included with the physical edition. The 2020 4K UHD release for Beverly Hills Cop comes with a whole host of legacy features, yet there’s nothing included here, not even for the anniversary. The digital edition doesn’t come available until the 17th (release day), so it’s possible bonus materials are included there. So if you’re interested in upgrading specifically for behind-the-scenes materials, you sadly won’t find them here.
Despite the lack of bonus materials on-disc, the 4K UHD anniversary edition is a fairly easy recommend if this is a series you enjoy and you like to have your home entertainment in the best quality. For me, this is a jump from standard definition DVD to 4K UHD Blu-ray, making the difference in quality enormous. If, however, you already have the film on Blu-ray or digital, any bonus material already available to you, snagging this just for the premiere image/sound may be a harder sale. Considering that there’s been a new movie and/or television program in the works for some time *and* Paramount is slowly releasing or re-releasing much of Murphy’s work (Boomerang gets a first-time Blu-ray on June 28th, but where’s my Distinguished Gentleman Blu?), finding a way to include even a brief featurette like is often included with the Paramount Presents line would make this release a tad more enticing.
Available on 4K UHD Blu-ray and digital May 17th, 2022.
For more information, head to Paramount Picture’s official Beverly Hills Cop II webpage.