48 Hrs. / Another 48 Hrs. Blu-ray Reviews: The Boys Are Back on Blu-ray

Expanding their roster of Eddie Murphy titles, the Paramount Presents line has added the two films that comprise the 48 Hrs. franchise. Walter Hill directed both. He didn’t want to direct the sequel, but didn’t want anyone else to direct it either so he took the job, as he revealed in an extra on the disc.

Notable for launching the film careers of actor Eddie Murphy and producer Joel Silver, 48 Hrs. is an action comedy with a variation on the buddy-cop formula, a popular genre at the box office during the ’80s. San Francisco police detective Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) teams with criminal Reggie Hammond (Murphy) to track down cop-killer Albert Ganz (James Remar), whom Reggie worked with on a big robbery. Their personalities clash, as seen in their clothes, cars, etc, which is expected, but for some reason, Jack is needlessly racist towards Reggie and makes the character unlikable. He later offers an apology, but Reggie doesn’t completely buy it, nor should the viewer.

Albert escapes from a work detail with the help off Billy Bear (Sonny Landham) breaks. They kill prison guards without hesitation. When cornered in a hotel, they kill two police officers. Jack was assisting at the hotel and gave up his gun to Albert, so he feels responsible. Learning that Reggie is an associate of Albert’s, Jack goes to meet him in jail and forges a document to get Reggie released for 48 hours. Although reluctant to work with the police, Reggie wants revenge against Albert who dropped a dime on him.

Albert wants the money he is owed from the robbery and forces Luther (David Patrick Kelly), another member of the robbery crew, to get it. Turns out $500,000 has been hidden in Reggie’s car at a parking garage. Jack and Reggie work to find Albert and Luther. The most memorable scene takes place in a country bar where Reggie pretends to be a cop and takes over the room with his “bullshit”. Reggie not only impresses Jack, but Murphy should impress viewers as well as it’s a scene that is both comedic and dramatic. Murphy exudes charisma and talent. Safe to say, this scene alone is what launched his career.

The police work is believable. Jack and Reggie interview people, follow leads, and make missteps. The partnership doesn’t run smoothly, because Jack doesn’t treat Reggie like a partner, but he comes to respect him. Their fist fight helps.

The video has been given a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The colors are strong hues, from bright primaries to rich earth tones. Blacks are inky. Film grain is noticeable. Texture detail can be seen but edges can be a touch soft.

The audio is available in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Dialogue is clear, and James Horner’s score, available as an isolated track, comes through with good fidelity. Ambient effects can be heard in the surrounds. The gun shots boom with exaggerated power.

Additional extras are

  • Filmmaker Focus: Director Walter Hill on 48 Hrs. (HD, 19 min) – Hill talks about the history of the project, including other actors that were almost attached. It’s a shame he didn’t get to do an entire commentary.
  • Trailer
  • Space Kid – Original 1966 Animated Short (HD, 6 min) – The cartoon Albert is watching in the hotel is available in its entirety.

Eight years later, Hill, Nolte, and Murphy reunited for Another 48 Hrs., a sequel that strives to be bigger while repeating what worked before, making one wonder why they bothered aside from monetary reasons.

Chasing after a drug dealer known as the Iceman, Jack kills a man, but when the victim’s gun isn’t found, Internal Affairs wants Jack prosecuted, leaving him 48 hours to clear his name. On the scene, he learns of a hit being placed on Reggie, who is back in jail and set for release the next day. Jack tells Reggie he will only give him his money if they work together again. After the killers nearly destroy the bus on which Reggie was being transported, Jack re-enlists his services.

There are connections in the previous film. Ganz’s brother is one of the hitmen trying to kill Reggie. The $500,000 stolen in first movie belonged to Iceman, who Reggie has met and can identify. (However, when the Iceman’s identity is revealed, it is puzzling and feels like a part of the screenplay is missing that would help it make sense.) During their investigation, Jack gets a scene talking to a disinterested crowd at a bar.

One noticeable difference is Another has bigger stunts and explosions. From the fire at the race track, to the attack on the bus to motorcycles (somehow) flying through a movie screen, it’s clear the stunt team budget increased and they took advantage of it.

The video has been given a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.The production design is brighter and it seems like there are more daytime exteriors, both of which affect the colors which come through. The orange in the flames of an explosion is strong. Blacks are inky and whites are accurate.Film grain is less noticeable, but texture detail and the focus are sharper.

The audio is available in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.Dialogue is clear. Ambient effects and James Horner’s score, which is not available as an isolated track, come through the surrounds with great clarity. The gunfire and explosions sound stronger yet don’t distort.

The only extra is Filmmaker Focus: Director Walter Hill on Another 48 Hrs. (HD, 15 min) – the same Hill interview session finds him talking about the film.

48 Hrs. is a solid action comedy that holds up decades later. Another 48 Hrs. doesn’t reach the same heights, but fans of the characters/actors may be happy to see them reunited even though it’s rather similar to the first film. Both Blu-rays deliver satisfying high-def presentations. Unfortunately, there’s little bonus material beyond the Hill interviews.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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