Eddie Murphy emerged as a fresh new talent, bringing an edgy energy and improvisational talent to film that nobody had seen before. As of 2014, Eddie Murphy became and has stayed the 6th highest grossing actor of all time, his pictures amassing a whopping $6.8 billion worldwide.
In 48 Hours (1982), Murphy plays Reggie Hammond, a still imprisoned convict who is temporarily released into the custody of Jack Cates (Nick Nolte), an angry, bullish, faux-racist cop, in order to find two criminals. Wowing critics and audiences alike, 48 Hours went on to be credited as the quintessential, proto-mismatched cop duo movie, that would later fashion the likes of Lethal Weapon (1987) Bad Boys (1995) and Rush Hour (1998). The film garnered nominations for various awards including a nod to Eddie in the form of a Golden Globe for Best New Star Of The Year - Male, but the award went to Ben Kingsley for Gandhi. Though Murphy lost in that respect, the nomination, the film and Eddie's performance all highlighted that Murphy was an upcoming force to watch. 8 Years later, both Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte returned for the sequel Another 48 Hours, in which Eddie's salary this time around, would be equal to the entire budget of the first movie. For 48 Hours, Eddie earned $200,000, but after multiple box office hits in the interim, his star power shifted and he was paid $12,000,000 for the sequel and also claimed a share of the film's overall gross. 48 Hours was made for $12,000,000 and grossed $78,868,508. Another 48 Hours had budget a of $50,000,000 and made $153,518,974.
BEVERLY HILLS COP
Scoring his next big hit with Trading Places in 1983, which served up another Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy, Murphy would step into another iconic role considered by many, to be from his most popular franchise. In Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy played Detective Axel Foley, a fast talking, tough Detroit officer who receives a random and surprising visit from his childhood friend and ex-con Mikey Tandino, played by James Russo. Visiting all the way from from Beverly Hills, California, a night of nostalgic catch-up is turned sour when two men appear, knock out Axel and kill Mikey in cold blood. Murphy, who is told to leave the investigation alone by his hard-nosed, no nonsense boss Inspector Todd (Gilbert R. Hill) defies the order, takes some 'personal vacation time' and heads to Beverly Hills to investigate. Once there, he discovers a drug smuggling operation headed by Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff) and intends to bring him down.
Throughout the investigation, we see Murphy/Foley play the fish out of water role to perfection, we see him mock and ridicule the bougie practices of the rich and famous and be two steps ahead of everyone whilst making it look like he is blissfully ignorant. Assigned to watch Foley by Lt. Bogomil (Ronny Cox), Axel picks up two babysitters in the forms of Sergeant John Taggart (John Astin) and Detective Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), who start out as buffers to limit any social and political damage Foley could do, but eventually befriend Foley and become his strongest allies. Beverly Hills Cop was Eddie Murphy's first solo lead role and he knocked it out of the ball park. Not only did he gain another Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy the film became the highest grossing of that year, the highest grossing comedy of all time and also the highest grossing 'R' rated picture of all time - at that time. Two sequels followed; Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) and even though they were both box office hits, the former gained mixed reviews whilst the latter was universally panned by everybody. Beverly Hills Cop was made for $13,000,000 and grossed $316,360,478, Beverly Hills Cop II had the highest grossing debut weekend of all time and with a budget of just $20,000,000, making $299,965,036 and despite a major drop in quality, Beverly Hills Cop III still performed well, using its budget of $50,000,000 to earn $119,208,989.
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR
The original The Nutty Professor (1963) starred Jerry Lewis, who also served as the film's director and co-wrote the screenplay with Bill Richmond. The 90s version was adapted by 4 different writers and though Murphy was just going to act, he wasn't going to play one role, but seven! In the original premise of the movie, Jerry Lewis played Jerry Kelp, a buck-toothed university professor who is uber awkward and socially impotent. Plagued by his status and loneliness, he invents a concoction that creates an alter ego, turning him into the very opposite - a suave, good-looking, sophisticated alpha male. Altered for modern audiences, Murphy's 1996 version would make the main issue about his weight and whereas Jerry Lewis' Buddy Love (the moniker of the alter ego) became handsome and confident, Murphy's Buddy Love becomes handsome, confident and thin. However, in both versions, the Buddy Love alter ego tries to usurp the professor's original form, by trying to find a permanent way of staying as Buddy Love, the battle therefore becoming an allegory for all our inner battles. 4 Years after the original film, a sequel appeared in the form of Nutty Professor II - The Klumps, with new formulas being invented and old enemies returning. The Nutty Professor had a budget of $54,000,000 and earned $273,961,019, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps had a budget of $84,000,000 and grossed $166,339,890 and Eddie Murphy was once again nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy...which he failed to collect...again. He did however win a Saturn Award for Best Actor, a Blockbuster Award for Favourite Actor - Comedy and won and was nominated for several other awards too.
Taking on another remake, Eddie Murphy became Dr. Dolittle (1998), where he played a human being that can hear and communicate with animals. First realising his gift as a kid, John Dolittle loses this fantastical ability when an upsetting incident involving his dog, makes him forget about it. 30 years later, his ability is reactivated and high jinks and craziness ensues. In 2001, the only other Eddie Murphy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 was released. The first outing had a budget of $70,500,000 and raked in $294,456,605, the sequel's budget of $70,000,000 didn't quite ensure the same results, but it still managed to gross $176,104,344.
In 2001, Murphy would voice Donkey in the first of the Shrek animations from the Dreamworks studios. As part of an ensemble cast that included Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow and Vincent Cassel, Shrek went on to be a smash hit, with a noticeably high and valuable contribution by Murphy's charismatic voice acting. Donkey was the unwanted friend and sidekick of Shrek. Always upbeat and positive, donkey had the biggest heart out of the main cast and was probably the most child-friendly character out of the ensemble. Shrek became so popular that not only did it spawn sequels and spin-offs galore, but it became the first full length animation to win an Academy Award for 'Best Animated Feature'. Critics and crowds immediately took to the old fashioned fairytale storytelling and settings, but in addition really appreciated it's draw and insertion of modern day popular culture. All in all, Murphy was featured in Shrek, Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party, Shrek 4-D, Shrek 2, Shrek The Third, Shrek The Halls, Shrek Forever After, Donkey's Christmas Shrektacular, Shrek's Yule Log, Scared Shrekless, and Shrek's Thrilling Tales. Sticking to just the cinematic movies; Shrek's budget was $60,000,000 and earned $484,409,218. Shrek 2 was made for $150,000,000 and grossed $923,075,336. Shrek The Third's production cost were $160,000,000 and reaped $804,438,141 and Shrek Forever After cost $165,000,000 and made $752,600,867. Constantly swapping places with The Lion King, Despicable Me and Toy Story, Shrek is, has been and will probably be again, the highest grossing animated franchise ever.
Away from his franchises, Eddie Murphy has also given us great stand-alone pictures such as Trading Places (1983), The Golden Child (1986), Coming To America (1988), Harlem Nights (1989) which he directed, Boomerang (1992) and My Name Is Dolemite (2019). And now with a Coming To America sequel in the works "Coming 2 America" he is adding yet another franchise to his filmography totalling six. There will also be another outing for Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop IV, perhaps re-awakening his strongest brand for a whole generation that weren't around even born when the last entry came out 25 years ago. And finally playing opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, Eddie is also set to join the sequel to Twins called Triplets, where he will play the third Benedict brother. If all of these films are carefully modernised from their 80s and 90s roots and are hits, Eddie Murphy could cross even more generations and cement a legendary status that will last forever.
Ex-con and ex-special forces operative Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) is recruited by the FBI in order to help take out the 'General' a major drug kingpin of New York. But when an undercover operation goes horribly wrong, Koslow is forced into an incredibly tough situation where the odds of him coming out alive are virtually nil.
A taut story with a carefully constructed cast, The Informer is by no means the bog standard crime thriller. Caught between the proverbial "rock and the hard place" add Hell and Hades to Koslow's compass and you'll begin to understand the gravitas of the position he is forced into. In having to handle the mob, cops, the FBI, prison inmates and wardens, Koslow has to constantly be aware of all the changing angles and motives of these groups, whilst working out a way to protect himself, his family and his new clean name.
A complex story that intertwines fates, the success of The Informer can be mostly attributed to the superb cast that all hit the right notes in supporting Joel Kinnamen, in his aria as Pete Koslow. Rosamund Pike in particular is brilliant as a conflicted FBI agent, trying to do the right thing, but also forced to face internal posturing, red tape and maintain self-preservation. Common's depiction of an NYPD cop determined to get justice, showcases some of his best acting yet. Common, a.k.a. Lonnie Lynn, displays a natural and comfortable charisma and is even silently powerful in some of his interactions. Overall, The Informer is a worthy watch and is on general release August 30th.
With a trajectory no one could chart, the man whose name means 'cool breeze over the mountains' has managed to stay relevant for 4 decades, regularly coming back with projects that go on to be major franchises and cult favourites. Starring in movies that interest him personally, Keanu long gave up on picking roles that critics and audiences alike expected to see him in...if at all.
BILL & TED
Some might put Bill & Ted straight into stoner comedy territory, but with its heart in a good place and with a semi-covert, but superseding narrative about the importance of education and destiny, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) was more than a zany adventure. Full of facts, figures and phrases that immediately entered the lexicon zeitgeist, Keanu played 'Ted' (Theodore Logan) one half of a duo that weren't ever going to be known for their academic contributions to society, but were destined to build the founding one through the power of their music. A sequel in the form of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey followed 2 years later, but whereas the original was made for only $6,500,000 and grossed a significantly high revenue of $40,500,000, it's follow up was made for over 3 and a bit times as much ($20,000,000) and only grossed $38,000,000. At the time of writing, a sequel; Bill & Ted Face The Music is currently being shot and this time around sees Bill & Ted in their middle age phase, needing to write a song, that will save the entire universe. I'm not sure if the term 'mid-life crisis' is an understatement in their new bogus adventure, but I'm sure they won't let us down.
In 1999, one of the most original films of 20th century was released - just as we were about to leave it. Making its debut in cinemas at the end of the century came The Matrix, a movie that did not just wow audiences with its high story concepts, but received universal praise for its well executed action sequences and its kinetic originality too. Introducing the world to "Bullet Time" (time slice photography), The Matrix would be the first film to have this particular type of CGI employed, which for about the next decade would have other films (whether they really needed it or not) copying in abundance. The Matrix and its two main sequels saw Keanu play Neo; a chosen-one figure who is suppose to start a revolution against a race of machines that have waged war on humans and plunged the Earth into a dystopian future. From birth, humans are kept in check by plugging them into a virtual reality matrix, where they think they are conducting normal lives. In reality; most humans are living a fake simulated existence, whilst also being used as 'batteries' to power the machine world. The Matrix was made for $63,000,000 and grossed $463,517,383, The Matrix: Reloaded and the last in the trilogy The Matrix: Revolutions were made back-to-back for $150,000,000. Reloaded earned a whopping $742,128,461 and Revolutions grossed $427,343,298. For the first film, Keanu was paid $10,000,000 and received 10% of the movies overall gross. For the second and third films he was paid $15,000,000 per film and received 15% of the overall gross for each film. All in all, he made around $256,000,000 over the course of the trilogy.
Much like The Matrix, nobody knew who or what John Wick was until they actually saw it and of course most were pleasantly surprised. On the face of it (via the trailer) the story looked like your bog standard action revenge thriller. The story didn't come from a comic or a book and so there was no previous knowledge of who this legendary badass was and would become in popular culture. What made the films so popular was the stunt team's dedication to making every move of assault both technically and artistically a feast for the eyes. And it was a nice change from seeing the current dominance of Filipino techniques being overused in films by characters such as Jason Bourne. The methods of attack and defence being bigger and more flamboyant, it was a real visual contrast to see the likes of Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Sambo and Gun-fu so expertly brought to the forefront. The original film was followed with another 2 chapters and a fourth movie has been announced, its release date set for 2021. John Wick was made for $20,000,000 and grossed $88,761,661, John Wick: Chapter 2 was made for $40,000,000 and earned $171,539,887 and John Wick: Parabellum was financed for $75,000,000 and made $321,162,659.
Keanu Reeves is an actor with a fantastic memory and a willingness to push his physicality to correctly portray a character. His one fight scene in The Matrix: Reloaded against the multiple 'Smiths' had more moves in it than the entire first movie. Also appearing on stage as Hamlet (a serious memory undertaking too), Keanu has never been shy about appearing in period pieces and can be seen in films such as Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) and Little Buddha (1993). Reeves has shown his versatility appearing in films that you might not expect to see him in and is also happy to not be the lead. Then of course there are his other genre defying, iconic action films, such as Point Break (1991), Speed (1994) and Constantine (2005), which were also reviewed and watched to commercial and critical acclaim. Keanu Reeves' legacy in the acting world is that he remains versatile, open and is willing to take chances despite any label given to him. Other notable films include: The Devil's Advocate (1997), Street Kings (2008) and The Gift (2000).
With the third instalment of the popular John Wick series currently doing the rounds and with a fourth film having already been announced, we thought it was time to share the gospel of director John Woo, an auteur whose personal style changed the way that action stories were told and shot. So unique was his delivery of balletic mayhem, that his vision officially became categorised as "Heroic Bloodshed" the reason that such films as "The Raid" and "John Wick" exist today.
THE CINEMA OF HEROIC BLOODSHED
TDD, RC & IK talk: