(1984)3.5Matthew DobermanFollowing up on the successes of 1982's 48 Hrs. and 1983's Trading Places, Eddie Murphy returned to the screen a year later with Beverly Hills Cop, a rollicking action-comedy that firmly established him as one of the premier stars of the day. Mixing laughs, violence and strip clubs -- a recipe if ever there was one for a guy-movie -- Beverly Hills Cop succeeded to the tune of $316 million worldwide. Though future films would prove him all too fallible, Murphy is unstoppable here as the wise-cracking, fish-out-of-water Detroit cop Axel Foley. Other players add a lot here too, notably Judge Reinhold's dopey tagalong and Bronson Pinchot's cameo as an art gallery host. And talk about hindsight being 20/20: Axel was almost played by Mickey Rourke, then Sylvester Stallone -- both of them only after Clint Eastwood turned down an earlier, more serious conception of the role. It's worth paying attention to Beverly Hills Cop's admirable and strong-selling soundtrack as well -- if "The Heat Is On," "The Neutron Dance" and "Axel F.," the film's synthesizer-heavy theme song, don't bring you back to the mid-eighties, nothing will. The plot is not exactly ground-breaking cinema, and sometimes its violence is a little excessive and conventional. Nevertheless, Beverly Hills Cop is a highly entertaining film that proves there was a darn good reason why Eddie Murphy was once king of the box office.