80s Cop Movies

What happened was, there was a Reddit thread asking a simple question, what are the best 80s cop movies ever? Some fine suggestions therein and it would be rude not to give some of them a whirl. So over the course of a week I watched one a night until I got all that out of my system.

Black Rain. This movie had everything. A soundtrack befitting the era. An arrogant American cop on the take with his last chance for redemption on the line. A very charismatic Andy Garcia, making you smile at every turn. Michael Douglas played the role of annoying protagonist skillfully, because sure you wanted to punch him sometimes, but you still really wanted him to win? Add in a somewhat clumsy love interest (random blonde Kate Capshaw, because reasons?) and it's the perfect 80s cop movie recipe. The story was great, the cinematography exceptional. Ridley Scott made a movie that looked like a million dollars. I'd like to petition more movies with set pieces at night in Tokyo.

Lethal Weapon. Remember how good Mel Gibson was before he went off the deep end? Yeah he was pretty damned good in this. Gibson and Danny Glover (who is too old for this shit) make a really good duo. I don't think I'd seen all of this movie, only bits and pieces here and there. Highly recommended.

Above The Law. Speaking of stars who went off the deep end. Steven Seagal made a few movies at the beginning of his career that weren't half bad. He had a bit of a streak going until probably Under Siege or something? Pam Grier was great in this. Sharon Stone was scared the whole time. Lots of cop bosses sure were angry and shouty. Seagall runs funny. I loved this movie.

48 Hrs. Now this is how you make a very good 80s cop movie. I think out of all the movies I watched that week, this was the best by far. Eddie Murphy was really really great as Reggie Hammond. And Nick Nolte Nick Nolte'd the shit out of his role as the gruff cop babysitting Murphy's convict. I watched this one when I was younger and completely forgot how good it was. There's a sequel and it's on my list to watch as soon as I can.

Beverly Hills Cop. I think I liked Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs slightly more than I do in this movie. But he's still excellent. As is the script, the location, the music. Of course as a synth fan I've loved lots of things Harold Faltermeyer has been a part of. The supporting cast is everyone you could think of if you were putting together an 80s cop film. Jonathan Banks! And bonus points for angry shouty cop boss.

Cobra. Things I learned, Stallone was originally cast in Beverly Hills Cop, rewrote the script to make it more macho action and less funny, and then got fired and they cast Eddie Murphy instead. Which worked out well. Sly took that script and morphed it into the screenplay for Cobra. And I'm here to say Cobra is a movie that exists. And it is not good. I've read online it's now considered a cult classic? Perhaps the angle is it's so bad it's good? I'd just leave it as it's so bad. More bonus points for angry shouty cop bosses.

The Last Boy Scout. Astute readers will note this is neither an 80s, nor technically a cop movie. But it fits, and it's really good, so I'll leave it in. Bruce Willis may have gone onto staring in every DVD you just see lying in the street, but he was at the height of his powers in this.

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  1. kapgar says:

    Die Hard is an 80s cop movie.

    • kevin says:

      It's true. But after a week of one a day I had this fully out of my system. There's at least ten more on the list if I really wanted to keep going. Maybe if I get another wild hair at some point. Currently this week is all time travel, all the time.

  2. martymankins says:

    I didn't know that about Stallone and Cobra. I would say that 48 Hrs was really great. And I did like the Beverly Hills Cop movies (and looking forward to the new on on Netflix)

    • kevin says:

      Yeah, I'll watch the new Beverly Hills Cop. I have a funny feeling I've not watched any of the sequels. I should fix that.

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