Lethal Weapon Collection on Blu-ray

The buddy movie has been a staple in Hollywood going back to the days of Abbott and Costello. The 1980s revived it with films such as 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon, and there have been quite a few copycats over the years that have made their mark. Like most successful films, sequels are a surety, and this is where the Mel Gibson–fueled franchise proved its worth with nearly $500 million in box-office receipts for the four films.

Gibson stars as L.A. Police Sgt. Martin Riggs, an ex–Special Forces solider who’s become mentally unstable since his wife passed away in an automobile accident. He’s considered a lethal weapon due to his suicidal tendencies that allow him to do his job without any fear of dying—I guess he figures if a bad guy takes him out, it saves him the trouble of doing it himself.

After a messy drug bust, Riggs teams up with veteran officer Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), and the pair doesn’t hit it off too well. On their first call, Riggs’ unorthodox method of dealing with a rooftop jumper almost gives the just-turned-50-yearold Murtaugh a heart attack. As time goes on, the odd couple develops respect for each other’s abilities and they become the best of friends.

The popular sequel hit theaters two years later and took the franchise in a slightly different direction. While the original was a pure action flick with the occasional comedic element thrown in, the second installment made comedy a central theme with the addition of Joe Pesci as a money-laundering crook who’s turned state’s witness against some South African bad guys who are seeking their pound of flesh from the turncoat. There are multiple laugh-out-loud moments in the film, but the scene in which Murtaugh creates a distraction in the South African embassy is by far the funniest.

The box-office rake was over two times as much as the first film, so a trilogy was certainly in the making. Unfortunately, the franchise starts to go downhill from here, and director Richard Donner does his best to keep things fresh with the addition of Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) as Riggs’ love interest and the return of Pesci, but this makes the screen a bit too crowded and distracts from the two main stars. Furthermore, the jokes are starting to wear a little thin, and the bickering between Murtaugh and Riggs makes you wish the older man would retire already.

When the fourth film came along in 1998, maybe the studio was hoping the audience would forget about the third film and want to revisit their favorite characters from the 1980s. Alas, many of the complaints about the third are here, and the addition of another character played by Chris Rock helps the comedic aspects of the story but doesn’t necessarily improve the chemistry. Fortunately, the bad guy played by Jet Li steals the show with his wildly entertaining martial arts stunts.

The video quality is all over the map with the four films, with the first looking a bit rough around the edges with some soft photography and murky blacks, to extremely good in number four with bright colors, inky blacks, and razor-sharp imagery. All are encoded in VC-1, which is somewhat surprising considering virtually every disc produced today is done with AVC. Like the video, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks improve with each subsequent film. Dynamics are slightly constrained in the first two films, with explosions and gunshots lacking the punch of modern-day tracks. Dialogue intelligibility is never an issue, and each of the tracks engages the audience with a compelling surround sound experience.

The plethora of supplements includes director’s commentaries on all four movies, deleted scenes, some music videos, and a smattering of behind-the-scenes featurettes. There’s also a bonus disc in the set that includes four newly made supplements with the stars, director, writer, and various other celebrities discussing the making of the movies and their impact on pop culture.

Lethal Weapon has survived the test of time and definitely ranks up there as one of the best action movies from the 1980s; and its sequel two years later cemented Riggs and Murtaugh as one of the best buddy combinations in Hollywood history. Unfortunately, Warner went to the well twice more with subpar efforts that tarnished an otherwise stellar franchise. Regardless, the high-definition presentations are quite good and are definitely worth a look for fans. Recommended.

Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Lethal Weapon
Studio: Warner Bros., 1987
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 110 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey

Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Lethal Weapon 2
Studio: Warner Bros., 1989
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 114 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci

Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Lethal Weapon 3
Studio: Warner Bros., 1992
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 118 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci

Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Lethal Weapon 4
Studio: Warner Bros., 1998
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 127 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci
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COMMENTS
dartangnonkitty's picture

Awesome review, I can’t help smiling when I think about the crush I had on the blue eyed Mel Gibson, he always kept cracking jokes even when he was taking a serious beating. I’m so glad the Blu-ray is finally here; I’ve heard so many great things about it from coworkers of mine at DISH that I’m very happy that I decided to check it out on my own. I’m adding it to my Blockbuster @Home rental queue, so it should only take a couple of days till I get it in the mail. I’m don’t purchasing movies right off the bat, so it’s great that I have the chance to save some money by renting. However, I’m pretty confident that I’ll buy it sense Riggs and Murtaugh can make me laugh regardless of what mood I’m in.

Collin12's picture

The use of non-lethal armaments would now temporarily stop the group of a being for an exact time that would be sufficient for them to imprison a illegal and make them safe.

http://www.swordsswords.com/defense-weapons.aspx

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