Jun 012012
 

This Lethal Weapon Collection is a must for any fan. The picture and audio transfers for each film, while vary in terms of quality, are far better than their DVD counterparts. The features are also well done including four new featurettes totaling 105-minutes giving insights into the entire franchise with new interviews with members of the cast and crew.

 

 


Lethal Weapon Collection (1987-1998)


REVIEW NAVIGATION

The Movie
| Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall

 

Genre(s): Action, Drama, Comedy
Warner Bros. | R – 468 min. – $79.98 | May 22, 2012

MOVIE INFO (LETHAL WEAPON):
Directed by:
Richard Donner
Writer(s):
Shane Black (written by)
Cast:
Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey

Theatrical Release Date: March 6, 1987

MOVIE INFO (LETHAL WEAPON 2):
Directed by:
Richard Donner
Writer(s):
Shane Black (characters); Shane Black & Warren Murphy (story), Jeffrey Boam (screenplay)
Cast:
Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci

Theatrical Release Date: July 7, 1989

MOVIE INFO (LETHAL WEAPON 3):
Directed by:
Richard Donner
Writer(s):
Shane Black (characters); Jeffrey Boam (story), Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen (screenplay)
Cast:
Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Stuart Wilson

Theatrical Release Date: May 15, 1992

MOVIE INFO (LETHAL WEAPON 4):
Directed by:
Richard Donner
Writer(s):
Shane Black (characters); Jonathan Lemkin and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, Channing Gibson (screenplay)
Cast:
Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, Jet Li

Theatrical Release Date: July 10, 1998

DISC INFO:
Features:
Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Trailers
Number of Discs:
1

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video:
1080p/Widescreen 1.78/2.40
Subtitles:
English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Sizes:
LW – 30.9GB, LW2 – 28.7GB, LW3 – 29.7GB, LW4 – 34.0GB
Codec:
VC-1
Region(s):
A, B, C


THE MOVIE – 3.5/5

Lethal Weapon (1987) — 4.5/5
Two Vietnam vets-turned-cops (MEL GIBSON and DANNY GLOVER) have just one thing in common: both hate to work with partners.  But their partnership becomes key to their survival when a routine murder investigation leads to all-out, take-no-prisoners, martial-arts-and-machine-guns war with an international heroin ring led by a man known only as “The General” (MITCH RYAN) and his crazed right-hand man, Joshua (GARY BUSEY), both of whom also served in Vietnam.

Even 25 years later, Lethal Weapon is just as excellent as the first time I saw it back in the early/mid 1990s. The action is intense and the balance between some the drama and dark comedy is fantastic. The film is led by two dynamic performances, but most notably Mel Gibson and it’s that chemistry between Gibson and Glover that makes this action-comedy so much staying power.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) — 3.75/5
Riggs and Murtaugh are off and running, trying to keep a key witness and themselves alive in this faster-than-gunfire sequel. From its breathless opening chase through L.A. streets to its raging gun-battle finale, the film’s excitement never flags. In between, there’s a six-story plummet from a window, a booby-trapped toilet, a Houdini-like underwater escape and the incredible destruction of a hillside stilt house. Also introduced is money launderer-turned-snitch Leo Getz (JOE PESCI) who’s life is in danger from his former employers.

The sequel is fun but does get a bit silly at times. The opening is a cool chase sequence which is well done but funny enough as they close in on one of a suspect’s car, one of their own police cars block the pursuit; the way it was shot it was almost seemed like it was done purposefully. There are a couple other scenes like that and Donner’s love for helicopters is full on display not only in the opening but the over-the-top yet memorable shootout as the bad guys tear up Riggs’ mobile home.

But as dumb as some of the plot points might be and even though it’s not quite as gritty compared with the original (there are a couple stunning scenes, however), the dynamic between Gibson and Glover is fantastic and makes the entire thing worthwhile.

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) — 3.0/5
Riggs and Murtaugh, who is only 8 days from retirement, return this time to foil ex-cop, now weapons dealer, Jack Travis (STUART WILSON) who is putting semi-automatic weapons onto the streets with cop killer bullets. Also making his return is Leo Getz, sporting bleached blonde hair, as he’s now trying his hand at real estate, including trying to sell Murtaugh’s home. The film also introduces Internal Affairs detective, Lorna Cole (RENE RUSSO), investigating Travis.

The third outing is weak but still fun. The script does get a bit lazy including an opening which is funny but has nothing to do with the plot; whereas the opening in LW2 actually tied into the story. The chemistry between Gibson and Glover is the only reason the movie works and even though including a love interest for Riggs, and a kick ass one at that, wasn’t exactly fluid in her introduction, was a nice breath of fresh air. Joe Pesci does get a tad grating but luckily he only pops in and out every so often.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) — 2.75/5
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover return for the fourth, and presumably final, installment in the Lethal Weapon franchise where Riggs and Murtaugh get embroiled in a Chinese slave trading scheme after they encounter a transport boat while on a fishing trip. Those on board are saved and are detained by ICE while a family manages to hide in a boat where they are discovered by Murtaugh, who takes them in. This family is important to a member of the Chinese Triad, Wah Sing Ku (JET LI). The pair of detectives are on the case as they try to stop Ku while also handling some domestic issues with Riggs’ girlfriend, Lorna Horn (RUSSO) is pregnant as is Murtaugh’s daughter by, unbeknownst to Murtaugh, fellow cop, Detective Lee Butters (CHRIS ROCK).

This installment is a mess and by all reasoning, I should hate it. The opening is inane and makes even less sense than the opening of LW3 where the pair try to outwit and outgun a maniac dressed in bulletproof armor with an automatic in one hand and a flame-thrower in the other. It’s a funny scene but shows how far the series has some from the original, although with the subject of slave trade, it’s still dark, just not as gritty in style and tone.

The rest of the movie, when not in fight choreography mode, seemed to have been written on the fly or adlibbed. These scenes seemed scattershot at best and just were somewhat of a distraction than funny. The acting also isn’t anything amazing with Gibson and Glover going through the motions, and having a good time, while the supporting cast is background dressing, albeit annoying in the case of Chris Rock and Joe Pesci, although to be fair, Pesci’s rants are amusing.

All in all, it’s a suitable and satisfying end to a good franchise. It’s not as gritty as the first one but as with the two other sequels, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are so fantastic together. The fight scenes between Gibson, Glover and Li are one of the highlights in an otherwise forgettable film.

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5

It should be noted that Lethal Weapons 1-3 are the theatrical versions and not the Director’s Cuts, so if you own them on DVD, you might want to hold on to it… This four-movie collection comes housed in an HD Keep Case inside a thick outer box. Unless otherwise noted, all features are in standard definition (SD).

Disc 1: Lethal Weapon — 2.0/5
Audio Commentary
– Producer/Director Richard Donner sits down for an informative track that could’ve been livelier as there are more than a few dead spots.

Additional Footage (29:44; HD) – We get a wide selection of scenes that failed to make the final and while fine, they don’t really add much. Not sure, but I suspect some were in the “Director’s Cut” DVD.

Also included is the cheesy music video Lethal Weapon by Honeymoon Suite (3:22) and the Theatrical Trailer (1:27).

Disc 2: Lethal Weapon 2 — 1.5/5
Audio Commentary
– As with for the first film, Donner’s track is again pretty dull and a chore to get through given the nearly two-hour running time.

Stunts and Action (3:45) was a behind-the-scenes featurette made to be shown on TV to advertise the movie. Other than bringing back memories of when studios did these kinds of things, it doesn’t offer much.

Additional Footage (4:12) includes 3 deleted scenes, none of which are particularly impressive and most importantly, necessary.

Theatrical Trailer (1:28)

 

Disc 3: Lethal Weapon 3 — 2.0/5
Audio Commentary
– Donner returns and again provides some general information on the production but it’s a dry track and the listener will easily lose interest after only 20-minutes. Again, the track would’ve been better served with somebody in the booth with him to pick up the slack.

Additional Footage (3:43) – Three mundane scenes are available for viewing. There is one where they show Riggs working on his new home on the beach (and his old dog is still around).

We also get a Music Video (5:01) for “It’s Probably Me” by Sting and Eric Clapton, the Teaser Trailer (1:36) and Theatrical Trailer (2:28).

Disc 4: Lethal Weapon 4 — 2.0/5
Audio Commentary
– This track, ported over from the DVD release, includes Donner, co-producer J. Mills Goodloe and Donner’s assistant, Geoff Johns who, interestingly enough, is DC Comics Chief Creative Officer. The track itself is OK helped by having more people in the booth.

Pure Lethal: New Angles, New Scenes and Explosive Outtakes (30:32) is a featurette putting together a plethora of scenes from the course of the series and behind-the-scenes footage for LW4 as well as the others.

Theatrical Trailer (2:20)

 

Disc 5: Bonus Disc:
Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon (23:50; HD)
– This retrospective featurette has new interviews with Richard Donner, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and others who worked on the movie, in front of and behind the camera, recounting how the movie came to be.

A Family Affair: Bringing Lethal Weapon to Life (29:33; HD) is another lengthy featurette this time with some more behind-the-scenes footage from each of the LW films with people on the crew as they worked on each of the movies. This one includes, again, some more new interviews with the primaries as well as some archive stuff.

Pulling the Trigger: Expanding the World of Lethal Weapon (29:46; HD) — This one covers the franchise aspect of these movies and how it became a worldwide success with the first going wild due to VHS sales which spawned the sequels. One interesting tid-bit was Shane Black actually wrote the sequel where Riggs dies at the end…

Maximum Impact: The Legacy of Lethal Weapon (22:28; HD) begins with how Lethal Weapon 4 came about with some nice behind-the-scenes footage. It continues with the same interview sessions with the various people involved.


VIDEO – 4.0/5

Lethal Weapon — 3.75/5
A bit on the warm side, this 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer still looks pretty good on Blu-ray. There are some scenes that can a bit off but all in all the detail levels are nice as are the black levels which are generally free of pixilation which sometimes can show up in such scenes. I won’t say it’s an amazing transfer yet it’s certainly head’s above the DVD transfer.

Lethal Weapon 2 — 3.75/5
The film, presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, isn’t a whole lot better than the first film and might in fact be a bit softer by comparison. The close-up shots are good and the colors are again muted but that’s by design given how gritty Donner and company wanted to make it.

Lethal Weapon 3 — 4.5/5
I was impressed with this transfer. Where the others never quite get over the hump of being ‘acceptable’, this one looks sharp from beginning to end. The 1080p transfer, presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, features some great detail level especially on close-up objects or characters, the color array looks good and black levels seem to even. I didn’t notice much in the way of pixilation or artifacting.

Lethal Weapon 4 — 4.5/5
The 2.40 widescreen transfer looks excellent on Blu-ray. Presented with a 1080p high-def transfer, this is probably the best looking of the bunch with some great detail levels while skin tones are a bit on the warm side, but it could how it was originally shown. Anyway, the video is quite nice, free of artifacting.

AUDIO – 3.75/5

Lethal Weapon — 3.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track has the action more in the center channel than spread across the other channels. This is probably more to do with the audio master and while it’s not very dynamic providing depth during the action scenes (including explosions and gunfire), it’s still acceptable. Dialogue sounds nice and clear and the rear speakers do get some work with ambient noises.

Lethal Weapon 2 — 3.5/5
The lossless track (once again, DTS-HD MA) is a tad better but still not nearly dynamic enough to hit a homerun. The action seems to be spread out much more through each channel, relying less on the center speaker which is more or less used for dialogue. But when you get the various action scenes, it’s not as immersive. I put this on the acceptable range, nothing more than that however.

Lethal Weapon 3 — 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is definitely more dynamic versus the first two movies. While the action scenes still aren’t wide-spreading across each channel with a fair bit coming from the center speaker, it’s definitely crisper. The dialogue levels sound nice and the rear channels get some use for off camera sounds.

Lethal Weapon 4 — 4.5/5
Compared with the others in the set, the 5.1 DTS-HD track is excellent from the rip-roaring of gunfire and flames (culminating with a gas truck being blown up) and all the big time action in between really showcases the home theater surround sound. The dialogue levels also sound good coming mainly from the center speaker.



OVERALL – 3.75/5

Overall, this Lethal Weapon Collection is a must for any fan. The picture and audio transfers for each film, while vary in terms of quality, are far better than their DVD counterparts. The features are also well done including four new featurettes totaling 105-minutes giving insights into the entire franchise with new interviews with members of the cast and crew. The only drawback is the first three are the theatrical releases so if you own the individual “Director Cuts”, you might want to hold on to them…

 

Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Published:
06/01/2012

 

Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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