Imagine, if you will, the story of a street-smart Detroit detective’s fish-out-of-water adventures in the land of milk and Gucci with Sylvester Stallone in the lead. Or even worse, Mickey Rourke. In the history of motion-picture casting, the fact that Eddie Murphy was Sly’s replacement (two weeks before shooting began, no less) is a close runner-up to Tom Selleck’s if-it-wasn’t-for-”Magnum, P.I.” pass on the role of Indiana Jones for the Best Barely Averted Disaster Award.
Eddie Murphy is what Beverly Hills Cop is all about. His effortless invention, his crackerjack timing, hell, his laugh: Without any or all of the above, ”Beverly Hills Cop” is just another episode of ”Miami Vice,” hold the Miami and light on the vice. It’s a rather run-of-the-mill police procedural — see bad guy, follow the clues, bust bad guy — that gets juiced by the ”Saturday Night Live” spark plug. And what makes it all work is Murphy’s unapologetic sense of confidence. Eddie Murphy never appeared cowed, hesitant, or embarrassed to be the cocksure black badass. Neither he nor his characters ever asked for approval, they just took it.
That bravado is absent from this boxed set, which includes the first ”Cop” and its two infinitely inferior sequels. The extras are fine if not stellar on ”Cop I” — there’s a somberly informative commentary by director Martin Brest and a trio of retrospective documentaries (which boast no more than three minutes of Murphy participation) — and all but nonexistent on the other films. But that’s okay, since the less time spent even acknowledging ”Cop III,” the better.