You switch from an armed robber to a pimp, you're all set.
A hard as nails cop reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down an escaped convict cop killer.
The mismatched buddy buddy formula exploded onto the screen here in a ball of violence, profanity and pin sharp one liners. It also launched Eddie Murphy into 1980s stardom. Directed by Walter Hill and starring Nick Nolte alongside Murphy as part of an electrifying black and white double act, it's unrelenting in pace and bad attitude. It could have been so different though, with the likes of Stallone, Reynolds, Pryor and Hines attached at various times for lead parts, it now is written in folklore that Murphy got the break and grasped it with both hands (he was actually fired at one point mind!). Thankfully the problems behind the scenes were resolved to give us a classic of its type.
A big success for Paramount it paved the way for more choice same formula pictures in the decade, but few were able to be so course and daring with the racial divide explosions. Murphy is outstanding, quick as an A.K. 47 in vocal delivery and with visual comedic ticks in full effect, he plays off of the also excellent gruff rough and tough Nolte superbly. Unsurprisingly the plot trajectory is simple enough, but such is the writing and performances (James Remar, Sonny Landham and David Patrick Kelly in support) it's one hell of a live wire ride from start to finish.
In amongst the verbal and action carnage you find plenty of 80s pop culture, with a blunderbuss sound track and a score from James Horner that pings around the Los Angeles locales (he would rework it for Arnie starrer Commando in 1985). This points to a time where now it is perceived as being tactless and a relic, and yet it instils realism as it captures the zeitgeist of the era. So not one for the easily offended then, but for nostalgics and those interested in the expansion of the action comedy formula, then this is a must see that still delivers high octane entertainment. 8/10