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Monday, 27 February 2017

My 10 Personal Favourite Eddie Murphy Movies

*revised post from last year*

If I had to choose my second favourite comedian turned actor after Robin Williams when it comes to movies that I have enjoyed a great deal, then it would have to be Eddie Murphy. 

He is regarded as one of Hollywood's greatest funnymen with a trademark laugh, a fast-talking motormouth & endless wisecracks, who has had a great career run spanning the 1980s and 1990s. And despite lamenting his post - 2000 efforts, most of which aren't as good as his classics, his impact on-screen through his cinematic efforts of the 1980s and 1990s are what truly defines Eddie's legacy as a celebrity and as a performer. Especially as being one of the few sought-after African-American stars after Richard Pryor to break out, and who has gone on to attain Hollywood superstar status. 

In 2016, Murphy made his on-screen comeback in the publicly well-received drama, Mr Church.

Here are my 10 personal favourite Eddie Murphy films/roles/onscreen characters of his that I've enjoyed the most, and in no particular order:

48 Hrs (1982) - this big-screen debut was what broke Eddie Murphy as a major tour-de-force movie star. As Reggie Hammond, he plays a con artist alongside cop Nick Nolte, as they track down a killer. Their unconventional partnership helped kick-start the buddy cop genre movie phase, which was later succeeded by the likes of Lethal Weapon, Tango and Cash, Rush Hour and many others after it. 

Trading Places (1983) - Murphy lights up the screen as pauper Billy Ray Valentine, a street hustler who trades places with a wall street broker, Louisunder a $1 bet alongside fellow SNL mate, Dan Ackroyd and acts as a perfect foil in this John Landis comedy

Beverly Hills Cop (1984) - the career-defining character Axel Foley made quite an impact, yet he looked better and cooler in terms of appearance in the sequel, 4 years later. Beverly Hills Cop was an action-comedy like no other when it was released in 1984 and its huge success helped immortalized Eddie as the go-to, in-demand guy in Hollywood in the 1980s.  

Coming to America (1988) - fish- out -of -water tale as the genuinely likeable African prince who goes to America to find his princess. It was also the first project where Eddie as Hakeem played a more clean-cut and less foul-mouthed character. This was one of his much less reserved comedy roles, in contrast to Axel Foley and Reggie Hammond.

Boomerang (1992) - second romantic comedy helping following on from Coming To America, if that was his '80s rom-com offering, then Boomerang counts as Eddie's '90s rom-com equivalent. But whereas Coming to America was a huge hit and deservedly so, this gem is overlooked. With equally great support by Robin Givens and pre-superstardom, Halle Berry, this is not only one of the best African American rom coms ever produced, but this is also one of the best romantic comedies, period as far as I see it. 

Vampire In Brooklyn (1995) - a cinematic bomb on general release worldwide over 20 years ago, Vampire In Brooklyn is a supernatural horror comedy with an African-American theme starring Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett. In watching this film today, though it is flawed in some areas, this is still a pretty interesting film with a narrative that becomes engrossing and a turn by Eddie Murphy as a blood-thirsty vampire, Maximilian that is unlike any other before and after it. 

Metro (1997) - a lot of people don't like this movie because they see this as an inferior version of Beverly Hills Cop. Well for one unlike that film, Eddie Murphy is a lot more serious as Detective Scott Roper, though he is occasionally funny and secondly, I find this to be a solid action romp and the drama is pretty good as well.

Shrek (2001) - Donkey is to Eddie Murphy as Genie from Aladdin is to Robin Williams, when it comes to his most well-known voice-over animated sidekick character. Even though I'm not a big fan of the Shrek movies, I find bucktoothed Donkey amusing, charming at times and sarcastic. He was funnier as Donkey compared to the dragon, Mushu in Mulan; upbeat, blunt yet honest and wise. 

Beverly Hills Cop 2 (1988) - second helping from the Beverly Hills Cop franchise as Detroit's finest helps fellow officers, Rosewood and Taggart in solving the alphabet crimes. Whilst it doesn't hold a candle to the prequel, this is still an entertaining and amusing action comedy. Although it is more action and drama-orientated compared to Beverly Hills Cop 1, as a sequel alone this is still a very good effort. 

Bowfinger (1999) - even though it is billed as a Steve Martin comedy vehicle, I consider it as a joint Steve Martin/Eddie Murphy movie. He plays dual characters like he did in The Nutty Professor in identical twin brothers, the arrogant Kitt and lovable, yet goofy Jiff Ramsey and the Murphy and Martin partnership worked like a charm, alongside the witty and amusing script.

Honourable mentions: Daddy Day CareMulan 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Weekend TV Movie Review: No Reservations (2007), Five

No Reservations
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Bob Balaban
Genre: Romantic Comedy-Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $92 million 

Plot: The life of a top chef changes when she becomes guardian of her young niece

'There Is Practically So Little Heat That I Got Out Of This Kitchen'

Films about food are either good or interesting such as Hong Kong comedy, Chicken & Duck Talk - or downright forgettable and not very appealing.

A fruitless effort of a film, No Reservations turns out to be a romantic drama lacking in romantic passion, as well as chemistry from Zeta-Jones and Eckhart, thus, making this twosome a mismatch. 

The movie focuses on the culinary offerings of the kitchen and of the heart. Kate is an uptight, prickly and stubborn New York chef, whose priorities change when she becomes a guardian and is left to care for her sister's niece after she dies in a car crash. After taking a few days off to properly mourn her passing and take care of Zoe, when she returns to the restaurant, Kate angrily finds out that the free-spirited, easy-going Nick has taken over in her place. At first, the pair doesn't get along, but over time, he starts to win Zoe over with his spaghetti, win Kate over with his charms and no sooner do they fall for each other. The kitchen scenes work efficiently with the cooking and preparation of the food and the dishes. Nick and Kate are supposed to be and end up being drawn together; unfortunately, the chemistry between Catherine-Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart is sorely lacking - with Jones, for me, the weaker of the two leads and of the female/male pairing.

No Reservations is a remake of the German film, Mostly Martha and it plays out as a romantic drama, but without any spark, ingenuity, real moments of interest or excitement, it's the cinematic equivalent of a dish lacking in flavour and seasoning. The subplots themselves don't amount to much whatsoever. And that is a shame because Eckhart, for me anyway, was the bright spark of this picture and whenever he was onscreen, he made it watchable with his presence. Catherine Zeta-Jones, on the other hand, her character, Kate should be more spontaneous, imaginative, her passion for food and cooking is supposed to be more charismatic, lively, energetic but not too wild and crazy. However, the one thing I didn't really buy was Kate's transformation as a character; I don't think it has evolved a great deal and neither were their signs in her character that made her more likeable and interesting. That can also be partly due to the casting of Zeta-Jones; I liked her in Traffic and she fared well in America's Sweethearts, Chicago and The Mask of Zorro. Yet her past character performances hardly elicited compassion and warmth. She did good for the first half of the film, but after that, I didn't really get a sense that she was a chef, as all of my focus was on the kid, Zoe and sous-chef, Nick. Out of the two main leads, I have to say, Zeta-Jones looked out-of-place compared to Eckhart, who pretty much approaches his role with a charm and performs it as if I could buy him as an actual chef: the way he pronounces certain culinary terms, explains how to prepare the dishes, his attentiveness was just spot-on. Nick is a guy who though loves his job, loves being a chef, he still endears himself to Zoe & is a nice guy. Abigail Breslin's performance was all right, although I didn't really care for that character and she offered nothing of consequence to this film, despite the critics' appraisal for her turn. 

Honestly, what we have here is a half-baked effort, where the food looks appetizing to eat and its appearance is all showy - yet it doesn't go into details or the finer points on how it tastes, as well as it cooks. Nor does the relationship aspect of Eckhart and Zeta-Jones characters work so well. 

Final Verdict:

Whereas Ratatouille resorts to magical artistic inspiration and impressive animated CGI to express the joy of food and cooking, this film relies on a cliched script that lacks energy and sparkle, whilst there is nothing about it that springs to life. It's so pedestrian, normal and passe. 

More than just fine dining, No Reservations is a frozen TV dinner that looks tempting and good based on the outside packaging, but when you open it up, it's actually rather shoddy and not very appetising. 

The direction is too safe, too basic and though No Reservations is not a completely horrible film overall, it's just too bland, formulaic and nothing about it springs to life. It's every romantic film you can think of, but set in the context of cooking and food and its done in such a way that isn't so interesting. 

Uninspiring for a film about cooking, - and cooking is supposed to inspire and tantalize one's taste-buds, senses, passion for food -, unoriginal given it is based on the German film, but it is also a remake that doesn't try and offer something exciting and bold. But for Aaron Eckhart's performance, it's still too ordinary and forgettable. 

Though it made over $100 million at the box office, the thing is still, there are plenty of other better and far more interesting romantic comedies that have done the ''boy- meets- girl, the two fall in love'' thing far better than this one. 

And it is for that reason itself, that No Reservations is a film that I have absolutely no reservations in watching, again. 


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Retro Review: Best Of The Best 2 (1993)

Best of the Best 2
Cast: Eric Roberts, Phillip Rhee, Chris Penn, Ralph Moeller
Genre: Martial Arts
U.S Box Office Gross: over $6 million 

Plot: Karate champions Alex and Tommy enter the world of underground fighting when their friend is killed in an illegal arena called The Colosseum. Here, there are no rules, and Tommy and Alex are viciously attacked when they attempt to seek justice. Running for their lives, the two men seek refuge in the desert where they train in the ancient Native American tradition for a final battle - one for honour, revenge and survival 

'Worthy Follow-up Sequel In This David/Goliath Showdown'

I almost passed up on this sequel, literately, after reading so many negative reviews on it from professional movie critics in particular, but after viewing the first film before Christmas of last year, I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to delve into the follow-up, Best of the Best 2. And to my surprise and happiness, I'm so glad that I did. Best of the Best 2 is and was also the last film in the series to be given a theatrical release - before the series went down the direct-to-video pathway. 

Alex (Eric Roberts -minus the 80s mullet/ponytail from the first Best of the Best) and Tommy (Phillip Rhee) have opened up a new karate school of their own. Alex's son, Walter is a little older and has matured into a budding martial artist, even though he didn't pass the final exam. When their friend, the somewhat arrogant SOB and reformed racist, Travis has his necked snapped by his opponent, by the name of Brakus, and as a result, he dies. When Walter sees this happening, he goes and informs his dad and Tommy and the pairing confront the manager, who denies the whole thing, and a fight breaks out. 

Entertainment-wise, it is a few paces away from 1989's Best of the Best and as it goes even further with the action and martial arts sequences. Whereas the first film was more of a sports-like drama with that competitive edge, this film is more along the lines of the usual straight up action martial arts film, and they really upped the ante with the action and even larger-than-life villains. 

The competition is played out in a similar vein to the game show format of The Running Man with its Gladiator-style coliseum. Best of the Best 2 is virtually a martial arts version of 1987 Arnie sci-fi flick and its atmosphere harks back to video games such as Streets of Rage, Double Dragon but more so the tournament style- fighting game series, Mortal Kombat.

What I really liked about this film was that although the competitive fighting tournament aspect was still here, they took it to a much different direction that, I for one, had not had foreseen and though it becomes a general martial arts action film, Best of the Best 2 also becomes a highly watchable one to boot also.  

What I didn't like though was the scene with Tommy's brother, James who drunkenly challenges Tommy to a fight - and yet as he is getting his ass whooped, he's spitting blood and vomiting everywhere in sight. By that point, I was thinking that it was getting too dumb and that it wasn't that funny to me, anyway. Also, making Phillip Rhee's character, Tommy 'native American' when Rhee himself is of Korean origin itself, was a mistake on the writer's part. 

The melodrama that was in the prequel is in this film as well, and it is well done and too overdone also. The story itself is average and isn't really that big of a deal for me when it comes to martial arts films in general; as I tend to watch them for the fights, although the acting performances in the Best of the Best movies tend to be good, but for the third and fourth offerings. The one difference in this film is that Alex and Tommy are fighting to avenge their best friend, Travis, who dies, rather than about winning the competition. The fights are slightly longer, are arguably a lot more brutal and bloody, given this is no holds barred and there are no rules and there is always a chance of getting killed. The martial arts fight scenes themselves are good, but not as good as in the first film; I feel the quality isn't as great here as it was in the prequel, yet they still do their job. Though Phillip Rhee's kicks are still as deadly, swift-moving and as hard-hitting as ever. Here, he is a lot more agile, flexible, as well as stronger and his range is a lot wider. Eric Roberts gets a lot of flak for his performances and whilst his character Alex, is not as much as at the forefront as he was in Best of the Best & is the sidekick in this movie compared to the first movie, I thought he did well. 

Ralf Moeller has such a physically menacing presence to him and when he fights, he is a total tough cookie to beat. He's like a combination of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren into one. 

Best of the Best 2 is a sequel I enjoyed just as much as the first film; even if it is formulaic and predictable, and is one of the fewer examples where lesser known sequels are as good as the original film. There is a lot more going on this film, besides the fights themselves; the story is more palpable and arguably there are more types of violent action scenes here than before; that and a lot of it is far more enjoyable to watch. 

Another good thing about it is it's one of those action films where you think it is going to slow down after an action scene takes place and it takes a while for the next scene to build up; well, that is not like that with Best of the Best 2.

Final Verdict:

Way back in 1993, these types of martial arts films were going out of favour with the general movie-going public, as well as action film fans as they were replaced by more slicker offerings that contain more quality action scenes. 

Best of the Best 2 is less campy than the first film, but at the same time, though it can get ridiculous in places, it still retains that high entertainment factor. It has plenty of action, emotion, some humour, some fights, explosions and is thoroughly watchable. I had a blast with this one. 

Though it can't compare with the likes of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li's offerings, nor is it up there with say Hard Target, the Best of the Best 1 & 2 films still contains some really good fight sequences. 

It may lack the heart of the first movie, but it makes up for it in abundance in every other department. Best of the Best 2 is a David vs Goliath martial arts showdown that can certainly withstand multiple viewings. If you are a fan of martial arts action films, then you might want to take a look at this film and its predecessor. 

*score last updated: 28 April, 2017*


Friday, 24 February 2017

Retro Review: Roadhouse (1989)

Cast: Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott
Genre: Action 
U.S Box Office Gross: over $30 million

Plot: A tough bouncer is hired to tame a dirty bar

'Swayze Ain't Lazy As He Kicks Ass' 

Roadhouse is a quintessential B-movie and it arrived at the end of the 1980s and right before we had entered the next decade, the 1990s that after a sleuth of musclebound Arnie and Sly Stallone efforts, films such as Roadhouse and Best of the Best ushered in a new phase for the action movie genre towards the 1990s. Both were spearheaded by non-action movie star actors in Patrick Swayze for Roadhouse and Eric Roberts for Best of the Best. Chuck Norris did carve a following and he, in many respects, opened the doors for American martial arts films to flourish on the market. With these movies, less emphasis was placed on the spiritual and cultural origins of Kung Fu and more attention was placed on action, hand-to-hand combat and added guns and explosions. This was then superseded by the likes of Steven Segal and Jean-Claude Van Damme. However, their egos and less than satisfactory antics off-screen meant that the vast majority of their films would end up going straight to home video. 

Roadhouse is a type of action movie where one has to suspend all disbelief; the police rarely show up at all, oh and Dalton smokes, AND practices Tai-Chi! You have a scene with Sam Elliott stopping one of Patrick's punches, reminiscent to that between Mr Miyagi and Daniel-san in The Karate Kid. Yes, it's not an outright masterpiece, it's not award-winning material, well okay, it won a couple of Razzies - which are awards celebrating 'bad' films', but it is thoroughly watchable, entertaining with some interesting action set-pieces. It appears as though everyone who worked on the film knew this was going to be a serious action, mixed martial arts-based flick, without intentionally being like one. 

Roadhouse succeeds as an action film, without taking it too seriously. 

Swayze is Dalton: a bouncer for a bar who is hired at a particular and violent Missouri bar named the 'Double Deuces', to clean up the mess and dross which leads to his run-in with a mob boss, going by the name of Brad Westley. Dalton, later on, falls for the doc, Clay and runs into his old friend, as the pair discuss how to tame Westley. 

I wasn't too fond of this movie when I first saw this a year ago; the cheesiness of it was a turn-off for me; however, over time, I've come to appreciate it and get used to its cheese or corniness. Roadhouse is an action flick with extended fight sequences. If you're expecting a high brow film, then this isn't exactly it. Choc- full of male testosterone, blood, sweat, booze and nudity, it sees Patrick Swayze trade in his dancing shoes for fighting ones, as he plays a bouncer trying to keep things in order. 

Produced by Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard), this film shares similarities with another cult martial arts based classic in Best of the Best, which came out in the same year. Each film contains one bar brawl fight scene. In a way also, Roadhouse is sort of a modern-day Western with the giant haystacks, bars and country music. One reviewer labelled this film 'a tolerable Patrick Swayze gutter trash' and whilst Swayze has been greatly missed since his passing in 2009, despite that his career- besides riding on a crest of a wave with Dirty Dancing and Ghost - has been less than successful, his strength was his ability and knack to showcase his range of talents in a range of genres. 

The female characters just exist to look pretty, attractive and to gain Dalton's attention and affection. They are also dancing on tables, showing off with their bodies. Though I'd rather have seen Julie Michaels, who is in this film as Dalton's female love interest and who sports a black eye and a few stitches after being abused by some guys, of whom he falls for, instead of Kelly Lynch. She looked far more appealing than Lynch, who didn't really convince me as her character, who was bland and whose performance felt wooden. But then the audience doesn't seem to care - because the vast majority of them tune in to see Patrick, than for her. Out of the main cast, her performance was the least effective. The love story involving Lynch and Patrick's characters is amusingly unconvincing. After his stint on Blue Jean Cop, Sam Elliott throws in a couple of punches and he was not bad, as Dalton's best bud.

Final Verdict

Between this film and Best of the Best, I'd take the latter over Roadhouse out of the two and whilst the dialogue is at times silly, alternating between macho lingo to general banter, and doesn't have a lot to say on anything else, besides kicking people's ass, the fact that it is not taking itself seriously and tries to be fun at the same time, makes Roadhouse worthwhile. But for the cheesiness, and droning melodrama that I can easily let it go over my head, this is still entertaining fluff and one that has aged quite well to this day. 

For all of the fights and unintentional laughs, Patrick Swayze's charisma is Roadhouse's ultimate strength and is what really enhances and sells this film. The supporting cast are effective, but for Kelly Lynch - without Swayze's presence, Roadhouse would be more like the dog house. He even did his own stunts, which is just as impressive.

It may lack the competitive edge of Best of the Best, but like that movie, this is such an unashamedly guilty pleasure and one I will rewatch from time to time. 


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Retro Review: Cobra (1986)

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Brigette Nielsen, Brian Thompson, Reni Santoni
Genre: Action
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $160 million

Plot:  A tough on crime street cop must protect a female witness from a murderous cult who have far-reaching plans 

'This Cobra Is Not So Poisonous' 

Cobra was written by Sylvester Stallone and was based on the book, 'Fair Game', which was later remade as a film with William Baldwin and Cindy Crawford in 1995 - and that film bombed spectacularly. 

There are a lot of things wrong with Cobra; it's a generic yet corny action film, with cringing 80s pop music playing and shots of Brigette Nielsen striking various poses as if she is modelling for Playboy. She plays a damsel in distress, which in hindsight, is a stark contrast to her being a peroxide antagonist in Beverly Hills Cop II, but she relies on her sensuality more than actual acting ability to carry the film through. Her performance was the worst although, with the script, she had uttered so few lines as her character, who merely existed to look like a dumb blonde and get rescued by Sly. Generally, the acting is poor, the performances are woeful. The villain known as the Night Slasher looks good at being menacing, and nothing else to it; plus, his lines to Cobretti towards the end were awful.  

When an action film contains a scene where the main hero is cutting a slice of pizza with a pair of scissors (!), one would be in for a real turkey. Which Cobra undoubtedly is.

The film fails to generate genuine suspense, entertainment and believability within the story and the characters themselves. But for a few action scenes, the rest of the film is plain boredom and apparently, this could've been the type of action movie Beverly Hills Cop had turned out, with Stallone in place of Eddie Murphy. When Stallone quit the film, all the ideas he had for it, were in Cobra. His character Cobretti was his version of Axel Foley and how he'd play it in Beverly Hills Cop

Even for a film, it takes itself far too seriously. Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon had humour and of the characters being self-aware of the things they say and do. Not here, though. Ray-Ban wearing Stallone is as stoic as he is here, he doesn't show much emotion or be it many different emotions and expressions. He may have a cool look as Cobretti, but characterisation-wise, the film doesn't touch upon this aspect, whatsoever. He's blander than Rambo and Rocky and lacks any sort of personality to Sly Stallone's other bad ass character, Ray Tango of Tango & Cash (and probably my favourite other action role of his). And again, Stallone mumbles throughout most of his lines, I couldn't make out on some of the things he was saying. The dialogue, in general, is so minimal as the camera focuses more on the characters' looks, the kills aren't as epic as in Rambo, Commando with Arnie and its attempts at humour are futile. The villains are more like biker gang rejects from Mad Max. Bryan Thompson has the face of a raging psycho who is about to 'lose the plot' at any minute. 

Some of the car chases are anything but spectacular, deft-defying and jaw-dropping and the shoehorned romance between Stallone and Nielson is nothing. No genuine sparks generated, nor sexual feelings or attraction. They don't even have sex or take their clothes off for each other in this so-called R-rated flick. 

This film is mostly Stallone killing lots of bad guys and the bad guys killing random people. That is all. 

Final Verdict

Pauline Kael who reviewed this film in 2001 said that Cobra is trash masquerading as art; well, art, this ain't.... trash, however? Well, that's harsh. It's not the word I'd use for it but one on similar lines to that one. But for some of the action sequences, Cobra is a plain, bore of an action film that succeeds with a hollow narrative and equally hollow and bad performances, along with incessant gunfire scenes and a film that could have been mistaken as a parody on the action genre. 

By stripping away everything else but the action (which isn't entirely great in itself), explosions, chases, fights, you're left with practically nothing to show for it; Cobra is underwhelming as it is bland and as simple as its premise and execution. There are far better action films, especially throughout the 1980s and 1990s, that went way & beyond better than with this offering. As well as being entertaining to boot. 

But for the hard-looking pose of Stallone wielding a gun on the poster and of him cutting a slice of pizza with scissors, as a film, Cobra's bite isn't as venomous and poisonous as it sounds. 


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Retro Review: Beverly Hills Cop 3 (1994)

Beverly Hills Cop 3
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Timothy Carhart, Hector Elizondo, Theresa Randle 
Genre: Action Comedy 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $119 million 

Plot: A hip detective from Detroit tracks down a crime ring to a Los Angeles theme park called WonderWorld 

'Third Time Not A Charm For Beverly Hills Cop III'

Beverly Hills Cop III was the third outing in the series for Eddie Murphy, following on his 1980s prequels, Beverly Hills Cop I and Beverly Hills Cop II as Detroit's finest, wisecracker Axel Foley. This film did rather well at the box office, but the reaction has been rather mixed, with most people considering it to be mediocre and not up to par with the first two films. I have noticed that Eddie as Axel is not like how he used to be, in terms of his mannerisms and he has toned down the motormouth antics. He is also a tad older and not as street-wise as he was, before. Yet I still liked it. 

When I watched this film as a teen, I really enjoyed it but looking back at it now, it does seem to be cringing in places and it feels less of a Beverly Hills Cop film and more of an Eddie Murphy comedic vehicle. And that has to do with the direction by John Landis, who directed Trading Places and Coming to America with Eddie, as well as replacing Tony Scott in the director's chair. Scott made the previous film feel more like a proper action film with hints of comedy and the first movie was class. In the 1987 offering, the comedy was never really that big of an aspect, and because of that, you saw more action, more gunplay, more dramatic acting, serious antagonists and Axel, despite his easy-going manner, still kicked ass.

Whereas with Beverly Hills Cop III, well, I still say I don't hate it; but the level of quality that was in the other 2 movies, which were sustainable throughout from beginning to end, just wasn't there with this third film. The main plot of the third film takes place, oddly enough, in a children's amusement park - a far cry from the armed robberies and murders on the streets of West Los Angeles in the other films. 

The score by Nile Rogers isn't very good, in fact, it sounded so painful, especially the revised Beverly Hills Cop theme that sounds more orchestral than the hip, iconic, '80s electro sound of Harold Faltermayer.

John Landis and Eddie, as well as the remaining cast members, knew they were working with a weak script. Co-star Bronson Pinchot who played Serge in the film also stated that Eddie was visibly depressed at the state of his career at this point. No John Ashton as Detective Taggart; instead he is replaced by another senior cop, Flynn with a far less interesting persona and who seems out of place. I didn't see the need for that character; he was just an excuse to have a new older, experienced detective to aid Billy Rosewood and Axel Foley and he doesn't work so well, alongside that pairing. Judge Reinhold, in contrast, sees his role minimised and his character is just not the same as he was before. Serge is a camp, European version of James Bond's Q with the gadgets and guns he makes; I too thought he was a needless character who added nothing to the story.

Under John Landis's direction, it appears that he was trying to bridge some of that comical magic from Trading Places with the action, but instead, it makes the film look corny and absurd. The scene where they show off with the weapons and gadgets could have been cool - yet, the way that is conceived is too jokey and comes off like an episode from the home shopping network. Beverly Hills Cop III has the feel and tone of the 1982 comedy, all right, yet none of the similarity or reverence of the previous Beverly Hills Cop films. Steven DeSouza is usually good at writing action films, but here and Streetfighter, the script is both flawed and too cheesy in places.

What is even more lacking and is noticeably absent is that distinction between Axel's streetwise approach and the more robust, do- it- by- the- book cops. His efforts in blagging his way through certain situations and in relying on his motormouth are gone, in place of antics that seem corny such as dancing to impress the children with that overbearing 'Wonder World' theme song blaring out, as he evades, as well as get hold of the bad guys.

The film is entertaining in places, but the characters reactions, behaviours at times feel so forced and typical, rather than genuine and the overall tone of Beverly Hills Cop 3 evokes seems off. The villains are as mediocre, throwaway and bland as the ones in Lethal Weapon 3; the main guy Ellis Dewald comes off looking like a stock character and he just wasn't dangerous or gritty enough. The film does seem to get overrun with bad guys that I sometimes end up feeling Axel needs more help in dealing with them.

The amusement park setting for an R-rated film is somewhat strange and generally, it evokes a family-friendly tone, but the other Beverly Hills Cop films were more adult-oriented with profanity and stronger violence - which not only upped the tension, as an action film these gave the films themselves more to work with.

And the script is mediocre; however, Beverly Hills Cop 3 is still watchable for me.

Final Verdict:

John Landis has directed some good films in the 1980s, but during the 1990s his slump began with this effort; he was not the right fit for this film, and his style just doesn't cut it for the Beverly Hills Cop franchise in general. His forte is not action-comedy.

Beverly Hills Cop 3 is not as good as the first two films and without the recklessness, edge and Axel's streetwise know-how and mentality that he had before, it's just a shadow of what it used to be. Nevertheless, the film remained entertaining, watchable and as a standalone, individual action comedy film of its own right, it's good, but not fantastic.

There is less action, chases, thrills and tension and in its place, we have a lot of corny gags, at times stale comedy and a style from Landis that renders the third Beverly Hills Cop outing as a comedy, making this offering unbalanced. 


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Retro Review: Vampire In Brooklyn (1995)

Vampire In Brooklyn
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison
Genre: Comedy Horror
U.S Box Office Gross: over $19 million 

Plot:  Max is a vampire who knows no mercy and has no regrets. He has come to New York City in search of Rita, a police detective who is unaware of their unique blood bond. As Max attempts to transform Rita into his vampiress, her devoted NYPD partner, Justice finds he has much at stake in protecting her from an age-old evil 

'Not So Much Terrible, But The Equity Of Horror & Humour Is Not Quite There'

Dubbed a horror version of Coming to America, Vampire In Brooklyn is considered nowadays to be a horror comedy cult; and although it is still not as widely received today as it was over 20 years ago, it certainly has its moments and a uniqueness that carves out an identity of its own as a film, as well as performances that punctuate the film's intensity and suspense aspects. 

A vampire going by the name of Max is in need of blood - human blood and his unlucky victim turns out to be Rita, an NYPD cop, as he seeks to turn her into a vampiress. 

Watching Eddie Murphy as Max, I kind of cannot envisage somebody like him in a role such as this; however, as demonstrated in Coming To America and The Nutty Professor, he is no stranger to playing different types of characters and in make-up as well. But Max is not Eddie; his mullet-like haircut is also similar to Jean- Claude Van Damme's in Hard Target. This is also the most un-Eddie Murphy like performance coming from Eddie Murphy himself and he carries himself, excellently, & as restrained it is. That, and he brings out that charm and charisma. Thankfully, this is not crazy, wacky Eddie, but rather cool, calm, subdued - yet also effective Eddie. His accent/voice as Max didn't annoy me, but more it was part of a character performance that he delivered in this film.

Though a lot of people may think it is lame seeing Eddie as a vampire and won't take this film seriously, this film had me on the edge of my seat at times and the story was engrossing. 

The cursing, the foul language could have been toned down, though; I didn't like the references to women as b****es. Angela Bassett was terrific in What's Love Got To Do With it and Strange Days, but here she is a lot more vulnerable, as Rita falls victim to Max's appetite for human blood. Her performance isn't as strong, nor good compared to her turns in those movies, but she fared okay. Her co-star Allen Payne was not bad and his character, Justice seemed likeable enough and he made for an interesting love interest. Whilst a lot of people may not care for his role, I think it was good to have a foil for Max to compete for Rita's affections. The romantic subplot love triangle between Max, Rita and Justice, was all right and it made the film watchable. Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett look good together. On the other hand, the two characters I didn't like were John Witherspoon's Silas Green and Kadeem Hardison's ghoul character, Julius; I couldn't stand Julius, he was annoying, talkative and swore too much - the antithesis to his role in A Different World

For all the criticism and flak this film received, Vampire In Brooklyn is for me one of the few curious takes on horror and whilst it isn't so refined, it offers something different, with that being a horror comedy with an African-American slant. The story, though is somewhat generic, was compelling and engrossing from beginning to end (for me at least) and whilst some people, especially horror fans, would've liked it to have been a lot scarier and gory, here, the gore factor was just about tolerable enough for me to stomach. The weakest aspect, however, was the comedy; this is a comedy horror film after all, but nonetheless, it just didn't come through and it seems that there is some dissonance between Wes wanting to shoot the film as a comedy, & yet Eddie wanted it to veer more towards a straight-up horror, without the humour. & because of that imbalance of the two, that made the film a bit off-key. The jokes didn't quite work also and a lot of them also resorted to foul language, which I didn't like so much. 

Is it Eddie's best performance? Undoubtedly, No. Is it new, different, refreshing to see from Eddie? Absolutely. His accent as Maximillian draws similarities to Count Dracula, and he also plays the roles of a preacher and some Italian criminal in prosthetics too. 

And whilst it could do with a few more light-hearted and humourous moments, Wes Craven does employ some visual flair throughout this film, and it looks every inch a horror film would turn out to be, and this coming from the guy responsible for A New Nightmare and the Scream movies, and it's so good and effective. 

The world and audiences in 1995 weren't quite ready for Vampire In Brooklyn, and whilst Wes Craven was far more successful with the Scream trilogy (forget the fourth film), with a few improvements in certain areas, I could see this film do better a couple of years ago, amidst the whole Twilight phenomenon. 

Final Verdict:

Whilst Vampire In Brooklyn continues to divide audiences to this day with most of the feedback being negative and the low ratings on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, which I was already aware of and though it's not the most amazing horror film I've seen, I do think it garners far more hate than it ultimately, and rightly deserves. I for one enjoyed it. 

It's entertaining with a good and original narrative that develops well and the plot twists and suspense are good. I also thought the dramatic aspects worked sufficiently. That comedy/horror hybrid idea - but for the jokes-, notwithstanding that it was a good one to take, is mismatched: too much horror and not enough good comedy.

The performances are good, although Kadeem Hardison as Julius was too much of a jerkass for me to really like him. And Eddie Murphy as the bad guy was an interesting surprise, and as he much as he hates that mullet, he came to life as so-called Blacula, Max.

Vampire In Brooklyn could've been a truly corny, irksome horror comedy with a really hammy performance by Eddie Murphy as a vampire, but thankfully, this never transpired and although it is not at the pinnacle of his other films alongside Trading Places, 48 Hrs, Coming To America, it is still watchable in a way and is an intriguing take on the vampire formula. Particularly one in an African-American cultural context. 

Die-hard horror fanatics and critics may take a loathing to this film, but I still found this one to be not too bad. 


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