Although the films have aged and the action seems a little too over the top for today’s standards, the Lethal Weapon films are still great entertainment for fans of the action genre. The Lethal Weapon Collection features all four films on Blu-ray with a bonus disc of new special features.
Warner Bros. has shown the films some love with a great video and audio transfer that make the new collection worth the double-dip and a bonus disc that gives an updated look at the franchise that was running out of gas by the fourth entry, but still left fans wanting more.
Lethal Weapon hit screens in 1987 and helped define the perfect “buddy cop” formula for the action genre. It also introduced movie audiences to the nutty and deadly Detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and his partner who was too old for this sh*t Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). The film was directed by Richard Donner with a screenplay by Shane Black.
Walking a fine line between action and comedy, Lethal Weapon followed burned-out and suicidal cop Riggs as he is teamed with by-the-book Murtaugh to solve the murder of a young girl. The murder has ties to a drug smuggling enterprise ran by The General (Mitch Ryan) and his psycho henchman Mr. Joshua (an over-the-top Gary Busey).
The movie featured tight pacing, tons of action and enough character development to get you hooked on the franchise and leave you wanting more.
The Blu-ray includes commentary from Richard Donner - who gets technical several times, but also goes into detail on how they caught some of the more quieter scenes in the film - such as Riggs debating whether or not he was going to eat a bullet while looking at a wedding picture of his dead wife. The disc also includes several deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, and a music video. Sadly, the director’s cut of the film, which I prefer to the theatrical cut, is not included.
Lethal Weapon 2 saw the franchise get more political with its plot involving South Africa, but also up the action and comedy. The film is easily the best of the franchise and saw the added ingredient of Joe Pesci's Leo Getz - who manages to be both annoying and hilarious.
The film cements the franchise formula of Riggs and Murtaugh bickering with each other like an old married couple as the bumble/shoot their way to solving the case. The film also sheds more light on Riggs’ past as he comes face to face with his wife’s killers, finds a new love interest (or at least one for a little bit), and continues to act way too insane to be carrying a gun and a badge.
Bonus material includes commentary by Donner, three deleted scenes, a look at the stunt work in the film, and a theatrical trailer.
Lethal Weapon 3 stumbles a bit with a plot involving a former dirty cop, Murtaugh involved in killing a kid with a gun, and Riggs finding a new love interest in Internal Affairs detective Lorna Cole (Rene Russo), who is basically a female version of Riggs. The film also includes Leo popping up to provide more comedy as he attempts to sell Roger's house - which has suffered some damage since he teamed up with Riggs.
The movie feels a little bit like everyone was on auto-pilot and just following the established Lethal Weapon formula, but still manages to entertain thanks to the chemistry of the cast and crew. Although Riggs is involved in a new romantic storyline and Murtaugh questions retirement and the shooting of a teen, there isn’t much character development. The addition of Russo’s character provides some good laughs and strong woman to put the boys in their place.
The bonus material includes commentary with Donner, some deleted scenes that don't really matter, the music video for "It's Probably Me" with Sting and Eric Clapton, and trailers.
Although it featured a breakthrough performance from Jet Li, Lethal Weapon 4 showed that the franchise was out of gas. Riggs and Murtaugh are now too old for this sh*t and it is time to move on. The plot features our buddy cops stumbling their way into a Chinese smuggling scheme where Triad boss Wah Sing Ku (Li) is using counterfeit money to purchase the freedom of four Triad leaders.
Riggs is also set to become a father and debating whether he should marry Lorna. Murtaugh (who has somehow come into money) is about to be a grandfather, but doesn’t know that his daughter is married to fellow Detective Lee Butters – an annoying Chris Rock. Pesci's Leo Getz pops up to provide his normal four-letter word riff, and manages to get a few laughs with Rock.
Although the plot is thin and the franchise is starting to show its age, the movie is still entertaining thanks mostly to Li’s villain. The action is extremely over-the-top from the very beginning, but Li’s fight choreography makes it worth taking the time to watch. The ending also does a great job wrapping up the entire franchise – although I wouldn’t mind seeing Riggs and Murtaugh taking on one more case.
The bonus material features commentary with Donner, producer J. Mills Goodloe and associate producer Geoff Johns. There is also a look at the making of all four films hosted by Glover, and the theatrical trailer.
The Lethal Weapon Collection also features a bonus disc of new supplemental material that explores the impact of Lethal Weapon and how it changed the action genre.
Thanks to the bonus disc and excellent video/audio transfers Lethal Weapon Collection is worth the double-dip. I wish WB would have included the director’s cut of the films with the release, but it is nice to have the entire franchise in one collection.
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