Beverly Hills Cop made it’s debut the year I was born, 1984. Naturally, I did not see this film until many years after its release, but I do still remember it as one of my first “buddy cop” flicks. I can’t mention the movie without it’s recurring theme music popping into my head.
Eddie Murphy stars as Axel Foley, who doesn’t play by anybody’s rules except his own (hey, this movie practically invented that cliche. Cut it a little slack.) We start the film with Foley proving this by botching up a cigarette smuggling sting operation. After getting yelled at by his boss (portrayed by Gilbert R. Hill), getting called a “loose cannon”, etc, Foley meets up with Mikey Tandino (played by James Russo) a former cohort and the two go out for drinks. After getting nice and sloshed, the two return to Axel’s apartment, where they are easily attacked by a couple of goons. Axel is knocked out and Mikey is murdered.
Axel tries to take the case, but his boss tells him he’s too close to the case and orders him to let someone else handle it. Being the loose cannon he is, Foley immediately ignores that order. He travels to Beverly Hills under the pretense of a vacation. He meets his kinda-sorta-love-interest-who-won’t-be-in-the-sequel Jenny (Lisa Eilbacher), who’s working at the same art studio Mikey was. Here, we’re introduced to the obvious bad guy (who’s clearly evil because he owns an art studio), Victor Maitland. Maitland (Steven Berkoff) gets his goons to toss Axel out of the studio. He is then arrested and meets actual Beverly Hills cops John Taggart (John Ashton), Billy Rosewood (The Honorable Judge Reinhold), and Lieutenant Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox). The lieutenant assigns the other two to keep a watch on Foley. After a few hijinks and a montage or two, Billy and John develop a bond with Axel and begin to help him along.
Foley eventually infiltrates Maitland’s compound, after finding enough evidence to convince his team that the obvious bad guy is smuggling cocaine (the official drug of 80’s cop flicks!). After a really sweet fire fight that still holds up to even today’s action standards, Axel confronts Maitland, who has Jenny hostage. Even though he’ll write her out of his life in Beverly Hills Cop II, Axel saves Jenny and avenges his friend’s death.
Beverly Hills Cop is a great example of awesome 80’s movies I hope they never, ever decide to remake.