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Vietnam vet turned LA detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is a loose canon. He's suicidal over his wife's death and has just been partnered with Sergeant Murtaugh (Danny Glover), an aging family man who wants to make retirement alive. In the first film, Riggs and Murtaugh take on a drug barron and his pain-loving henchman (Gary Busey), even though it gets personal. In the second, motor-mouthed Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) helps them bust evil South Africans he's laundered half a billion dollars for despite their hiding behind diplomatic immunity. In the third, Riggs meets his match in sexy internal affairs cop Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) as they get bruised and bloody taking down a gun running dirty cop. In the fourth and final instalment, Riggs might just take a shot at marriage with Cole, but must get past the Triads doing business in LA led by a merciless chop-socky freak (Jet Li). As they say, they're getting too old for this.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
In 1987, Lethal Weapon set the standard for high octane star-driven action movies, and American summer blockbusters have copied the formula ever since. It was also when Mel Gibson cemented his reputation as a charismatic leading man with macho looks, a hair trigger mentality and an ice-cold gaze that could turn any crook to stone. It also set the tone for buddy movies that's never been bettered yet. The Lethal Weapon franchise has since fallen victim to the law of diminishing returns, as each sequel gets progressively more derivative of the first (which is still the best). It suffered by softening Gibson's character and introducing Rene Russo (who stands almost a foot taller than Gibson) as his leading lady.

The supporting characters are terrific throughout; Glover as Gibson's perfect foil, Busey as the pyscho mercenary, and Pesci as the rambling wannabe. But it's Gibson's film franchise, and even though he trades off the same Mad Max character that brought him Hollywood attention, he's utterly magnetic, dangerous and zany all in one.

The Lethal Weapon box set represents a terrific boy's own action pack, but there's not much more than the movies to enjoy here. The first and third films have no extras, while the second has a blasť stunts featurette that lasts a measly four minutes. The fourth film has the most: a thirty minute documentary hosted by Danny Glover that revisits the first three films and includes footage left on the editing floor, bloopers and on-set antics.

The first film, for example, had an alternate introduction to Riggs as he got into a bar brawl that was dropped in favour of his beach side trailer home. The first film (a director's cut here) includes extended scenes like Riggs taking out a schoolyard sniper and hiring a hooker to "watch re-runs of the Marx Brothers on TV".

The interview gallery is pretty fluffy, and the B-roll footage proves to be a good thing left on the B-roll. The zone one version has an audio commentary lacking from our zone 4 encoding, making this a box set without much to hang its hat on besides the movies themselves.

But it's a nice Christmas gift for grown boys who love their action movies with cops, robbers, guns, girls, explosions, and sight gags.

Published December 20, 2001

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia


STARS: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Gary Busey, Rene Russo, Chris
Rock, Jet Li
DIRECTOR: Richard Donner

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELESE: November 21, 2001

Dolby Surround 5.1,Lethal Weapon 2: Stunts and Action Featurette, Lethal Weapon 4: 4 Trailers, Pure Lethal Documentary, Interview Gallery, Extended Scenes from Lethal Weapon 1-3, B-Roll Footage, Scene access, Subtitles, boxed sleeve presentation

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