Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do, BAD BOYS 1 & 2, Blu-ray Review

Bad Boys I & II: 20th Anniversary Collection was released on Blu-ray on November 10.

It’s not fashionable in film circles to like Michael Bay, but I respect a lot of what he does. He’s an unapologetically populist filmmaker who makes popcorn movies for the masses. That’s his bag, and for the most part he does it really well. He’s made some pretty bad movies (Armageddon and the even-numbered Transformers movies come to mind immediately), but even at his worst his stuff is usually a fun diversion at least. And even though his storytelling chops are, well, choppy, there are few people who can stage big action as well as he and his team can. I gained a greater appreciation for his work after viewing the stunning chase scenes in The Island; on viewing the making of documentary on the DVD I was absolutely blown away by the realism and danger of the kind of vehicular action that he specializes in.

The Bad Boys films are upper tier Bayhem, and particularly relevant as a 1–2 snapshot of his career. The first film is a lean, mean, lower-mid-budget proof of concept for a young and hungry director and his emerging stars, while Bad Boys II ratchets up the ante on every level with the power of sheer confidence backed by $130 Million.

Back in the early to mid 90s, reading newspaper movie reviews was, apart from browsing video shelves, about the closest I could get to familiarizing myself with movies that I wasn’t allowed to watch, particularly those of the “hard R” variety (a bit later, when I had a little money, I would move on to movie novelizations). As silly as it sounds, the one review that I remember best through all these years was a swipe at Bad Boys. The review described the film’s sarcastic leads and amped-up action and violence, and made a really memorable comment, and here I paraphrase, but the essence was: “if this film were edited for television, it would sound like Swiss cheese”. I’m sure this had the adverse affect of what the reviewer intended, because this sounded to my young mind like the greatest movie of all time. So here I find myself, 20 years later, reviewing the same film. It’s certainly not the greatest movie of all time, but it does lives up to the promise of non-stop badditude.

This far removed from its release, once could be forgiven for mentally lumping Bad Boys in with Michael Bay’s massively-budgeted tentpole fare. But Bad Boys was his first film, and for the young director it was a make-or-break situation on what he has called a $10 million movie (though other estimates have pegged it at over $20M), and he even put up a quarter of his director’s fee to see it through to completion.

Bay’s gamble paid off. Bad Boys became a big hit, igniting not only his own career but also propelling television icon Will Smith to film superstardom.

Life throws a curveball to Miami PD narcotics officers Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) when their career bust, $100 million worth of heroin, is stolen from the police evidence room and Internal Affairs threatens to shut down their department. Their constantly-bellowing but also weirdly affectionate chief (Joe Pantoliano) tasks them with shutting the case again, only faster this time.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Bay’s films in general is the dumb humor sprinkled throughout, constantly undermining the protagonists. This is evident in most of his work, and Bad Boys is no exception. Lawrence plays the straight family man man to Smith’s rich playboy, and in a much overused joke laments his lack of “quality time” (read: sex) with his wife. This is exacerbated to an absurd degree when the two cops are are “forced” to temporarily switch identities to string along a scared, attractive witness (Téa Leoni), further driving a wedge between Marcus and his wife. It’s such a dumb and artificial conflict because if they would just stop and explain the situation the whole thing would be a non-issue.

Anyway, when the movie isn’t mired in silly subplots, it really cooks. The leads have great chemistry and some of their obscenity-packed dialogue is incredibly funny. The action sequences are plentiful and thrilling, culminating in an explosive shootout with the bad guys at an airport hangar followed by a literal race to the climax. For his other faults as a storyteller, Michael Bay can envision and shoot large-scale action as well as anyone alive. He has a phenomenal and kinetic cinematic eye, not only for vehicular carnage, but also reveling in now famous shots like an airplane soaring over the Miami sign (which is regrettably fictional, by the way), and his signature sweeping rotation.

Bad Boys proved to be a hit, and set off the careers of its director and principals such that it would be 8 years before its sequel emerged.

In Edgar Wright’s buddy cop parody/masterpiece Hot Fuzz, the movie-loving slacker Danny Butterman loosens up his uptight partner Nicholas Angel with a double feature of Point Break and Bad Boys II. This is perhaps the most fitting possible tribute to this action-packed, big-budget sequel.

Bad Boys II introduces Gabrielle Union as Syd, an undercover DEA agent who is Marcus’s sister, and unbeknownst to him, Mike’s new girlfriend. Things start to get hairy when Syd’s DEA operation to overlap their own case. It turns out they’re all after the same mortuary-fronted Cuban drug lord who uses coffins — and even hollowed corpses — to smuggle drugs and cash. The film explores a rift between the two partners as their constant frustration with each other, usually a source of amusement for the audience, becomes a bigger problem.

In an opening that echoes blaxploitation classic Brotherhood Of Death, Mike and Marcus infiltrate a gathering of drug-running Klansmen by showing up in hoods. Like most scenes in the film, this ends in a shootout.

As I already mentioned, most Michael Bay movies have their unfunny recurring gags. In the first film it was the identity swap and “quality time”. In this one, it’s references to the psychiatrists that the Miami PD officers are forced to consult to handle their anger issues, and their constant use of the word “whoo-sah” as a stress management technique. Amazingly, there’s even more of this awful stuff in the deleted scenes, and it was rightfully cut. On the flipside, plenty of jokes do land, and there’s a riotous profanity-laced scene in which Marcus and Mike terrorize a young man who shows up to take Marcus’s daughter on her first date.

About a half hour into the film, the boys — and Syd, posing as a money launderer — engage in the first of three major chase sequences, one that would probably qualify as the finale in any other film. For Michael Bay, though, it’s just “rising action”, along with more shootouts. Did I mention this is a 2.5 hour movie?

A second massive vehicular chase sequence soon follows, complete with cadavers falling out of the bad guys’ transport vehicle and being run over by our heroes, and ending in another massive shootout. Equally celebrated and panned for its over-the-top insanity and mean-spiritedness, this sequence in another film would feel like the natural climax, but Bad Boys II opts for extra innings. Miami PD secures the drugs, but the bad guys escape to Cuba with Syd as a hostage, turning a police matter into an international battle on Cuban soil for the increasingly ridiculous climax that winds its way to Guantanamo Bay.

Personally, I love this movie. The action is crazy and absolutely over the top, and the sense of escalation is constantly ratcheting up, up, up. The comedy doesn’t overreach as much as the first film, and Syd makes for a more interesting sidekick than Téa Leone’s Julie. Overall the film emphasizes what worked the first time around and jettisons a lot of what didn’t. A rare sequel that bests the original in every meaningful way.

The Package

Bad Boys I & II: 20th Anniversary Collection arrived on Blu-ray on November 10.

With this release, Sony/Columbia faced a similar situation as that of the Ghostbusters films. The first Bad Boys film has been available on Blu-ray since 2010, but not the sequel. In the case of Ghostbusters 2, they opted to offer both a stand-alone release and a franchise 2-pack. Many viewers went straight for the 2-pack thanks to the low price and remastered 4K presentation. With Bad Boys II, they’re skipping the stand-alone option altogether (initially, anyway) and just offering a 2-pack of both films.

This set contains both films in individual cases with a slipbox. The artwork for Bad Boys is different from the 2010 release (although the disc art is identical with only a 2015 copyright to differentiate it).

While this forced double-dip might rub owners of the 2010 Bad Boys disc the wrong way, the good news is that the 2-pack is priced to move and the new disc boasts a 4K remaster. Here’s a few close-ups to give an idea of the clarity:

Except for the HD trailers, features are legacy carryovers presented in SD.

Special Features and Extras — Bad Boys

Putting The Boom & Bang in Bad Boys (23:54)
 Or “Boom & Bang of Bad Boys” — Crew members take us on a guided tour of the film’s practical effects, guns & weapons, stunt props designed to be destroyed, and pyro & explosives.

Commentary With Director Michael Bay

 Teaser (2:18)
 Theatrical Trailer (2:47)

Music Videos
 69 Boys — “Five O, Five O (Here They Come)” (3:11)
 Diana King — “Shy Guy” (4:34)
 Warren G — “So Many Ways” (3:26)

Special Features and Extras — Bad Boys II

Deleted Scenes (7:19)
 Mostly dealing with the running anger management/psychiatrists gag. So much terribleness, fascinatingly cheesy and in poor taste. Rightfully excised.

Production Diaries (67:10)
 Sequence Breakdown (45:21)
 Stunts (9:29)
 Visual Effects (18:38)
 In all the disc has well over 2 hours of behind the scenes material for to pore over, spread across these 4 categories. For those who want a closer look at the filmmaking process it doesn’t get much better than this. This wealth of extras does come at the cost of a director’s commentary.

 (Possibly mislabeled? Typically the teaser would be the shortest one.)
 Teaser (2:08)
 Theatrical Trailer 1 (2:26)
 Theatrical Trailer 2 (1:02)

Music Video
 Jay-Z — “La La La” (3:52)

A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
 Bad Boys I & II [Blu-ray] | [DVD]

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