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Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is a hip, street-smart detective in early 1980s Detroit; as something of a loose cannon, he's not well respected by Da Chief, but the other guys on the force love him. One day, an old friend of his visits — then ends up killed by hitmen just outside Axel's apartment. Despite being warned away from the case Axel, determined to find out what happened, takes vacation time and follows the killers' trail back to Beverly Hills, California.
Hilarity Ensues as Axel adjusts to the more straight-laced world of Beverly Hills, using his comedic timing and unflappability to get himself out of some sticky situations. As he tries to build a case against the Mooks that killed his friend back in Detroit, he manages to talk his way into (and out of) the Beverly Hills jail, his hotel, a bonded warehouse, a country club, and more. Just when he's about to crack the case, the Big Bad arrives and kidnaps his not-quite-love-interest, Jeannette Summers (Lisa Eilbacher), forcing the Beverly Hills police detectives he's been trying to win over to come and help. The movie ends in a massive, scenery-chewing shootout at the villain's huge mansion, with the local detectives learning that sometimes bending the rules isn't so bad after all.
This was the movie that made Eddie Murphy a star, and resulted in two sequels. It was the highest-grossing movie in the United States in 1984, the same year as Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Axel Foley is back, this time prompted to return to Beverly Hills after Captain Bogomil is gunned down in cold blood as part of a serial crime rampage. Naturally, the local police chief, Lutz, wants nothing to do with him, so he invents an elaborate cover story, first as a psychic and then later as part of a mythical intercity task force on organized crime. He's up against the "Alphabet Bandit", a man who pulls off daring crimes in broad daylight and leaves behind only a cryptic clue in the form of a coded note. With the aid of Taggart and the newly Badass Rosewood, he traces the bad guys all over the city, including a car chase involving a cement mixer, the Playboy Mansion, and finally a shootout at an international arms smuggling depot. The film features Brigitte Nielsen as Karla Fry, The Dragon. The third-highest grossing movie of 1987 in the United States, earning more than Lethal Weapon and Dirty Dancing combined.
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
This time, Axel is attempting to take down a car theft ring when the thieves well-armed clients shoot their way out, killing the chief. To avenge his boss, Axel follows a lead to a Los Angeles theme park which is the front for a massive counterfeiting operation. Accused of the shooting of the park's owner, he enlists the help of Rosewood and his new partner, Jon Flint, to prove his innocence and get revenge on the ringleader. It was the thirty-fourth highest grossing release of 1994, beaten by the Jean Claude Van Damme movie Time Cop. There was no Beverly Hills Cop IV.
Beverly Hills Cop provides examples of:
- Adult Child: Billy Rosewood.
- The Alleged Car: Axel's beat up old Chevy Nova, which is apparently a Running Gag between him and Jeannette.
- Audit Threat: When Axel Foley is caught illegally searching for evidence, he pretends to be an inspector and threatens an employee who questions his authority with an IRS audit. The employee drops his objections.
- Banana In the Tailpipe: The Trope Namer.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Even though Axel Foley is an actual cop, his jurisdiction is in Detroit and any time he visits Bel Air, he must use Bavarian Fire Drill tactics to get the job done. On the other hand, he also uses this trope when he does have jurisdiction, as does Rosewood after getting the idea from Axel in the first film.
- Big Bad: Victor Maitland.
- Big Damn Heroes: Occurs twice. The first time comes after Axel tells Billy to Wait Here outside Maitland's warehouse, and Billy is subsequently forced to go rescue him. The second is when Bogomil bursts in on the Mexican Standoff between Axel and Maitland, with Jeannette as the hostage.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Taggart and Rosewood, the cops assigned to watch Axel and whom he eventually befriends.
- Bikini Bar: Axel visits one with Taggart and Rosewood in tow, then ends up breaking up a robbery.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Discussed by Rosewood during the big shootout, to Taggart's horror.
Rosewood: You know what I keep thinking about? You know the end of Butch Cassidy? Redford and Newman are almost out of ammunition, and the whole Bolivian army is out- out in front of this little hut?
- By-The-Book Cop: All the actual Beverly Hills cops. Rosewood, at least, learns to ease up a little more each time meets Axel, becoming a gun-nut and a Badass.
- Catch Phrase: Axel: "Trust me!" Jeffrey: "This is not my [locker/office]!" Todd: "You're damn right!"
- The Cavalry: The entire Beverly Hills police force shows up just in the nick of time to rescue Taggart and Rosewood.
- Character Development: Both Rosewood and Taggart have moments when they are forced to abandon their By-The-Book Cop methods in order to rescue Axel and Jeannette, respectively.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Billy shows symptoms of this, with Taggart getting to play straight man to his bizarre non-sequiturs.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Axel, many times.
- And a Precision F-Strike whenever the Beverly Hills cops curse.
- Cowboy Cop: Again, the Trope Namer. Axel, obviously.
- Da Chief: Foley's boss — played by an actual Detroit cop, too.
Axel: Wait a second, look. I just thought, that if there was a problem -
- Deadpan Snarker: Taggart, frequently, especially during the Storming the Castle sequence.
- Destination Defenestration: Axel: "I was thrown. Through. A fucking. Window!"
- The Dragon: Zack.
- Evil Brit: Maitland
- Former Teen Rebel: Axel, who "fractured an occasional law".
- Funny Foreigner: Serge
- Hollywood California
- Hollywood Law
- Ignoring by Singing: After messing up the cigarette sting operation Axel is bothered by Jeffrey. Alex uses the "la la la" version while trying to get Jeffrey to stop.
Foley: I am not listening to you.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Maitland's goons must have trained here. Or maybe their training was in how to shoot up statuary.
- Important Character, Important Evidence
- It Came From Beverly Hills
- Jurisdiction Friction
- Leitmotif: The song "Axel F" has become a sort of national anthem for The Eighties.
- Lemming Cops: When the Beverly Hills cops are driving en masse into Maitland's mansion, some of his mooks try a getaway only to crash and cause the entire line of police cars to get into a chain of rear-end collisions, and Bogomil to break his By-The-Book Cop face to exclaim, "Oh, shit!"
- Mexican Standoff: Occurs briefly at the end of the first movie, with Axel squaring off against Maitland, with Jeannette as hostage. Bogomill breaks it up by entering the scene, giving her an opportunity to break free and giving the two cops a clear shot.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A gangland style murder and some German bearer bonds lead Axel to uncover a large cocaine smuggling operation.
- Motor City
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Not exactly intentional on his part, but the police and criminals of Beverly Hills alike mistake Axel's less than textbook approach as ignorance and stupidity. That doesn't stop him from taking advantage of their underestimation.
- He also deliberately uses a "foolish black man" act several times to get past people by convincing them he's just a simpleminded servant.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Beverly Hills police have some traits of this, but come around in the end.
- One-Scene Wonder: Serge.
- Only a Flesh Wound: When Axel gets shot in the shoulder by Maitland, he keeps going on one arm. It's even Lampshaded near the end.
Chief Hubbard: "What is that man doing here?"
- Pants-Positive Safety: Axel keeps his service automatic shoved into his belt, behind his back.
- Playing Drunk: While in the bar, Axel pretends to be drunk to make an armed robber think he's harmless and get close enough to take him out.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Inspector Bogomil, who in some early scenes is a by-the-book Obstructive Bureaucrat, proves himself one of these when he actually listens to Axel's theories about Maitland and launches an investigation. Later, upon learning that two of his officers joined Axel in Storming the Castle, he sends in the entire Beverly Hills Police department to back them up.
Dispatcher: Sir, reports of shots fired, same location. 609 Palm Canyon Road.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Some of Maitland's security goons try a getaway upon realizing that the entire Beverly Hills police force is on its way into the mansion.
- Signature Laugh: Axel, so much that it was used in all the advertising.
- Star-Making Role: Eddie Murphy
- Storming the Castle: Maitland's mansion, with one of the most hilarious shootout scenes ever filmed.
- Tap on the Head: One of Maitland's Mooks to Foley before Mikey is killed. He later taunts Axel about it while beating him up.
Casey: "How's that little bump on the head I gave you in Detroit? Healed up nice, I hope."
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Maitland gets shot something like twenty times when one or two would have been more than enough.
- Unexplained Accent: Serge
- Wait Here: Axel to Billy, setting up the latter's Character Development.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Mikey.
Beverly Hills Cop II provides examples of:
- Accidental Aiming Skills: When Rosewood blows up the arms truck with an M72 LAW.
Rosewood: (holding the launcher on his lap and reading the instructions) "...Aim through here, push this."
- Badass Longcoat: Rosewood carries one in the trunk of his car, waiting for an opportune moment to use it.
- Big Bad: Maxwell Dent.
- Big Damn Heroes: Taggart and Rosewood get to rescue Axel from Karla Fry, after he's just taken down Dent.
- Bunny Ears Cop: Rosewood. He's even odder in this film than in the first.
- Car Fu: Attempted by the Big Bad against Axel, which fails after he shoots Dent through the head. However, the collision puts Axel down long enough for Karla Fry to get the drop on him, allowing Taggart and Rosewood to play Big Damn Heroes.
- Criminal Mind Games: Subverted in II, as the "alphabet crimes" are actually a Red Herring to cover up Dent's robbery of his own properties to finance his arms smuggling.
- The Dragon: Karla Fry.
- Dragon Their Feet: Karla Fry survives Dent by about ten seconds of screentime.
- Drives Like Crazy: Rosewood
- Going by the Matchbook: Axel recovers the secondary Big Bad's fingerprint from one.
- Hand Cannon: Billy upgrades to one after the shootout at the nightclub. Axel lampshades it.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A serial crime spree leads Axel to uncover an international arms smuggling ring.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: As a Running Gag, Lutz cannot remember Rosewood's name.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: A more straightforward example in this one — Lutz ends up getting fired over it.
- One-Scene Wonder: Gilbert Gottfried as Dent's accountant.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: Billy keeps at least three in the back of his car and DualWields two of them. Taggart is Genre Savvy enough to take one with him.
- Statuesque Stunner: Karla Fry, portrayed by Brigitte Nielsen.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The truly spectacular explosion of the Big Bad's shipment of illicit weapons, aboard a truck that Billy manages to destroy with Accidental Aiming Skills.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Subverted. It looks like Bogomil is going this way, but he manages to survive until the credits.
- Took a Level in Badass: Billy. Sort of.
- Wall of Weapons: Billy acquires one of these.
- Wouldn't Shoot a Girl: Taggart doesn't believe in this.
Beverly Hills Cop III provides examples of:
- Bad Boss: DeWald responds to an injured henchman's plea for assistance by kicking him out of their speeding truck and underneath the wheels of Axel's car during the opening Chase Scene.
- BFG: The Annihilator 2000.
- Big Bad: Ellis DeWald.
- Brand X: Wonder World, a Disneyland expy
- Ferris Wheel of Doom
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A car theft ring were all murdered by members of what turned out to be a major counterfeiting operation.
- Mook Lieutenant: Holloway.
- Mr. Alt Disney: Uncle Dave
- Punch Clock Villain: The chopshop guys at the start. They don't carry guns, try not to hurt anybody, and sing along to the radio cheerfully. Even Axel didn't want to see them get hurt, and the Big Bad gunning them down is clearly supposed to make us hate him more.
- Rummage Fail: When Axel tries to use the BFG.
- Signature Style: John Landis likes to feature celebrity cameos. George Lucas is the tourist Axel cuts in front of at the Ferris wheel.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Inspector Todd.
- Swiss Army Gun: The BFG again.
- Villain with Good Publicity: DeWald