Beverly Hills Cop II 4K Blu-ray Review

‘You can never have too much firepower…’

by Mark Costello
SRP: £20.00

Beverly Hills Cop II Review

The runaway success of the first Beverly Hills Cop seemed to take everyone by surprise.

No-one knew what to do with it… the studio wanted to turn the franchise towards TV and produce a series. But when star Eddie Murphy refused to return for anything other than a big screen sequel, early drafts also seemed to flounder, with the film looking more and more like your traditional 80’s buddy cop slice of genre fare, complete with love interests for Foley and sending him overseas to solve international crimes. All of which would have resulted in an absolute cinematic catastrophe and likely producing one of the worst sequels ever made… which producers at least saved for Beverly Hills Cop III.

So thank God for Top Gun.

And more importantly, thank God for Tony Scott.

Uber producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer loved his brand of muscular, macho cinema that equally scored big at 1986's box office and they handed the sequel over to him. And proving to be absolutely the best choice for this sequel, he somehow managed to cram twice as much plot, twice as much character and twice as many edits into the shortest running time of the three films in the franchise. The man knew how to shoot a movie…

But most importantly, he understood Murphy. Now given virtually carte blanche across Hollywood, with an ego destroying anything in its path, Murphy found Scott’s desire to basically remake the first film in the mould of yet another one of his vehicles, ‘48 Hours’, in full alignment to his own direction for the sequel and while the finished product was described at the time as little more than a Murphy ego trip writ large (it was the first script he ever wrote), it remains an absolute blast of purest 80's excess from magic hour drenched start to insanely explosive finale.

Murphy stars once again as Detroit cop Axel Foley, this time brought back to Beverly Hills after the attempted murder of his friend, Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox in rare good guy mode). Teaming up with Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggert (John Ashton) again, Foley attempts to solve Bogomil’s shooting by solving the case he was working at the time – a string of high-end robberies dubbed ‘The Alphabet Crimes’...

... we just came to see Murphy swear and be the funniest man alive and Scott to blow as many things up in magic hour as possible

Sensibly keeping the comedy and the action separate for as long as possible, the film never suffers from the kind of identity crisis that so many of these genre mash ups fall into because it takes both wholly seriously, never trying to have one muscle in on the other. Scott marshals the robberies and action scenes with the absolute minimum of fuss, stripped back of all but the merest hint of story, focussing purely on the visuals. And it’s almost pure Scott – slow motion, montage, whip crack edits, those colour filters, his music video aesthetic is given the largest canvas possible and it works effortlessly.

Yet part of the reason they work so well is because of the perfect balance with Murphy unchained and on the loose in the rest of the film, an out and out comedy vehicle whereby Scott hands the reins over to Murphy and just tries to keep up (these parts are less visually Scott but when you have Murphy, why would you not just keep the camera on Murphy?). And Murphy is on fire – his mouth never stops running and while a host of these are even more contrived than the action scenes, Murphy’s rapid-fire filthy wit delivers zinger after zinger, most of which you almost miss (he has twin daughters Monique and Unique……) because they’re delivered so quickly and so organically that they feel almost improvised. While some of these beats feel a little self-referential in calling back similar parts of the first film, Murphy is never less than utterly charming, even when scamming everyone he meets out of any cash they are carrying (although fact fans note, he gives all his plundered money away) and swearing at a level that would win world titles if swearing were some sort of sport, that trademark laugh a precision-tooled weapon that has a near perfect hit/smile rate. And yet sensibly giving Reinhold and Ashton almost as much time to shine means that it never feels like Murphy is just swallowing the entire film. As a trio, they’re even more amusing and likeable here than in the first film.

Throw in some delicious meta nods (Hef! Cobra and Rambo! Gilbert Gottfried!), a returning Harold Faltermeyer replaying Axel F over and over and over again on the soundtrack and it still sounding utterly amazing and that wonderful tonal balance between adult sensibilities and childlike wonder that seemed to only have ever worked in that mid-to-late 80s period and it's an achingly entertaining romp that is completely unabashed in its means of giving the audience exactly what it wants: smart mouth humour and Hollywood style shoot ‘em ups.

Of course something has to give and here, it’s the antagonists – Jurgen Prochnow seems as confused by his own plan as we all end up being, as convoluted and ridiculous as it actually is. Dean Stockwell is absolutely wasted in a nothing role that he still manages to bring peak Stockwell to and Brigette Nielsen seemed to have been cast purely on the length of her legs and with the sole intention of pissing Sly off as much as possible. They all look great in their dazzling 80's fashions and Scott’s superb high contrast lighting, but they do and say very little of any real interest, virtually lost in the sea of fast-talking jibes and multi-camera explosions.

But in the end, we just came to see Murphy swear and be the funniest man alive and Scott to blow as many things up in magic hour as possible and this massively overblown yet effervescently entertaining sequel does exactly that.

Good, clean 80's fun.

Beverly Hills Cop II 4K Video

Beverly Hills Cop II
The included images are not sourced from the 4K disc.

Beverly Hills Cop 2 was shot on 35mm film with just about every type of Arriflex and Panavision camera and Ultra Speed lenses available on the market at the time. While little can be found about the restoration/transfer here, given the quality of the finished product, this looks like the 4K restoration from 2020 used to deliver that 1080p Blu-ray release over in the US has been used again here, only this time to deliver a now native 3840 x 2160p resolution image with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 that uses 10-bit video depth, both flavours of High Dynamic Range passes (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.

We reviewed this Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release on a JVC-DLA N5 Ultra HD 4K projector (for main HDR10 viewing), a Philips 50PUS6754/12 Ultra HD 4K TV (for a DV/HDR10 comparison) and a Panasonic DP-UB9000 Dolby Vision/HDR10 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player (for HDR10 viewing) and a Sony UBPX700 Dolby Vision/HDR10 Ultra HD Blu-ray player (for DV/HDR10 comparisons).

Brilliant stuff from Paramount

Immediately, the viewer is struck with just how filmic this transfer looks. Grain is omnipresent and is very well managed throughout. It nestles next to some jaw dropping fine detail – the first exterior of the Beverly Hills Police Department at 19:25 has such exquisite amounts of fine detail in it, it looks like it was literally shot yesterday – that presents itself in everything from close ups of faces (Prochnow’s pock marked visage especially) to clothing textures (the differing textures of Murphy’s Detroit Lions jacket are now wonderfully obvious) and the crispness of fine edges on the myriad of vehicles used and destroyed throughout.

The HDR grading seems tailor-made to highlight Scott’s highly filtered shooting style, and the opening scenes of Bogomil jogging at, of course, magic hour present such a deeply lush range of burnt oranges, ambers and reds in the sky, all without any notion of banding or any other digital deficiencies, that it’s the perfect example of the image. Its a fairly consistently ‘hot’ image, with its high contrast palette of deep blacks, searing sun-drenched highlights and vivid everything in between, yet skin tones look perfectly natural and wonderfully shaded, adding depth and solidity to every image.

A quick comparison between HDR10 and Dolby Vision grades show, as expected, the DV layer to have the slight edge in terms of colour depth, with the magic hour skies a touch more vivid and punchy than the HDR10 layers. Whilst these differences continue across a range of explosions and sky shots, faces looked a touch hotter and a touch less natural, but there is little in it – the professionally calibrated HDR10 layer in the JVC using dynamic tone mapping produce a wonderful amalgam of the two.

The image is rock solid, with no judder seen at all, even across often problematic credits, a tell-tale sign of the serious restoration work that had taken place on the film. As is the complete lack of any print damage whatsoever – not so much as a blemish was noticed in the image across the entire run time. Finally, disc compression appears to be consistent and very good, with no noticeable artefacts observed – bit rates hover between the low to medium 70 mbps for the most part across the entire film, with the odd peak nudging just over 81 mbps during specific scenes, all of which were observed with a quick scan through the film’s playback information for those that like numbers.

Overall, the transfer here represents a near-perfect mix of detail, colour depth and contrast range which presents just a wonderfully rich and filmic looking image that never feels overtly stylised, even though Scott’s aesthetics obviously are. Even its expected slight drops in quality for some heavy optical work and different shooting and lighting styles, are all captured wonderfully. Brilliant stuff from Paramount.

Beverly Hills Cop II 4K Audio

Beverly Hills Cop II

The disc offers up the following soundtrack options:

  • English 5.1 DTS HD-MA
  • German, Spanish (both Spanish and Latin American) and French Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Japanese and Russian Dolby Digital 5.1

There are also sixteen (16!) different subtitle varieties on offer so there should be something for everyone here.

It’s as energetic a listen as it is a watch, thanks to a combination of wonderfully deep musicality and a brilliantly precise use of the front speaker array (mostly) to convey Harold Faltermeyer’s hyper pop synth score. Tonally, it offers up a lovely balance between deep bass (especially during the Club 385 scene) and piercing highs, but in combination with the near constant movement of the percussion between the front left and right speakers, it creates a high octane listen that never feels exhausting.

The surrounds aren’t used constantly but when they do engage and open up the score beautifully (again, those splashy, reverb drenched drums seem made to be placed around the full soundstage), they fill the room with a wonderfully immersive musical baseline.

A very good soundtrack

Dialogue is always wonderfully clean and positioned really nicely in the mix. The only slight downside of the entire mix would be the very 80s sounding gunshots and explosions – robbed of the never ending bottom end of much more modern soundtracks, these scenes never have as much slam or depth as the music and in a film tripping over itself with shoot outs and huge explosions it's a club scene that has the most amount of aural presence out of the whole film. Having said all that, this is still preferable to having awful, newer sounding foley (natch) gunfire added in and turning the original soundtrack into a hideously sounding amalgam that very much represents the worst of both worlds.

A very good lossless 5.1 soundtrack that still manages to fill your ears as much as Tony Scott managed to fill your eyes. Which is saying something…

We reviewed this Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release on a Denon AVR-X4300H and a 7.2.4 array of Kef speakers (including the Q range and ci in-walls/in-ceilings).

Beverly Hills Cop II 4K Extras

Beverly Hills Cop II

Not only is there no 1080p disc (or even more sacrilegious cardboard fans, a slip) included, there is not a single on-disc extra included either. For something that purports to be a ‘35th Anniversary Edition’ in the US (yet sensibly not titled that over here, possibly because the studio realised us Brits would call BS on that almost immediately?), this feels somewhat half-baked.

... half-baked

While Paramount are to be congratulated on seriously upping their catalogue 4K releases and most with some truly stunning transfers on them, their lack of adding anything to the films of any added value seems puzzling at best, lazy at worst, especially when you consider what extras must have been produced for all those previous releases. Still, at least we have the film looking and sounding so good, so one could argue that at least the priorities are all in the right place.

Conclusion

Beverly Hills Cop II 4K Blu-ray Review

Beverly Hills Cop II

Riotous fun thanks to both Murphy and Scott doing what they do best. Preferable to the first film for this reviewer, but granted not by much, it really does somehow make its overt comedy and action beats work together as part of a cohesive whole, only really dropping the ball when it comes to its antagonists and their somewhat simplistic plan at the heart of the film.

Preferable to the first film for this reviewer

And Paramount gives us yet another fantastic transfer, both visually and aurally, of a film that arguably needed it to be so. Stunning picture quality and almost as good sound, the technical work done on this disc is of seriously high quality. And yet the lack of any extras whatsoever still somehow disappoints. While getting these films in the very best that 4K can give us is the primary goal of the whole notion of physical media, those supplementals are very much part of the overall package and especially for a film like this that has been released multiple times before, to not even include any legacy extras smacks as being lackadaisical.

Beverly Hills Cop 2 is released by Paramount in the UK on 4K UHD blu-ray on the 16th May.

Scores

Movie

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Extras

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
1

Overall

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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