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Nearing retirement, a strait-laced LAPD detective gets teamed up with an unhinged cop, who, distraught after his wife's passing, has a death wish and takes unnecessary risks. The duo's first homicide case involves a young woman with ties to a drug and prostitution ring.
For more about Lethal Weapon and the Lethal Weapon Blu-ray release, see Lethal Weapon Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 22, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan, Tom Atkins, Al Leong
Director: Richard Donner
» See full cast & crew
Lethal Weapon Blu-ray Review
Riggs and Murtaugh show their age, but still satisfy this fan...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 22, 2009
Lethal Weapon may not have invented the buddy-cop genre or revolutionized the action-comedy, but it certainly refined both. Golden-touch director Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman, and The Goonies, among notable others) not only injected a healthy dose of wit and cynicism into the cavalier conventions of late-80s gunslinging cinema, he crafted a pair of memorable heroes who have continued to thrive for more than ten years and three sequels. With talk of a fifth entry in the series forever looming, I thought it would be a blast to revisit the classic that started it all; a film I snuck into my basement countless times to watch without my parents' permission and one that still fills me with nostalgic glee.
If you haven't already had the pleasure, meet Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover); a straight-shooting LAPD veteran struggling with the fact that he's about to turn 50. Now meet Sergeant Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson); a suicidal hothead whose unhinged behavior masks a deep-rooted depression brought on by the tragic and untimely death of his wife. Partnered to investigate the murder of a young cokehead, the two detectives soon find themselves tracking a pair of dangerous heroin smugglers (Mitchell Ryan and Gary Busey) with ties to Vietnam. As the druglords try to uncover the unlikely duo's pressure points, Riggs and Murtaugh have to overcome their various personality conflicts, protect Murtaugh's family, and stop the sudden influx of heroin from reaching their streets.
Without a doubt, Lethal Weapon is the film it is because of Glover and Gibson's effortless chemistry and barbed banter. Their volatile partnership not only earns serious laughs, but the actors themselves exude the sort of heart and soul that makes their characters undeniably charming leads. Riggs could have been a clichéd hotshot, but Gibson fuses his every action with such weight and pathos that his struggles with depression resonate. Likewise, Murtaugh could have been an overbearing bore rather than the complex, devoted family man Glover has created. Of course, as much credit as the cast deserves, it would be a shame to overlook Shane Black's sharp script. Rising above the typical genre fare of the era with biting dialogue, a carefully-penned plot, and a pair of genuinely menacing villains, Black gives Gibson and Glover a tumultuous and dangerous sandbox to play in. Even twenty years later, Lethal Weapon continues to demonstrate why it deserves as many sequels as it's produced.
Sure, Lethal Weapon's '80s fashions and weak supporting performances date the film a bit, but I never found it to be enough of a distraction to spoil my love of the series opener. If anything, newcomers will have to shrug off a handful of questionable developments to fully enjoy its tense action, endless laughs, and heartfelt drama. It's tough to tell whether my raging nostalgia and love for its sequels tainted my opinion, but I'll have to go with my gut and say Lethal Weapon still delivers the goods, stands out from the crowded genre pack, and is definitely worth a try.
Lethal Weapon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Minted at the same time, burdened with the same meddlesome image filtering, and plagued with the exact same technical problems, the 2006 Blu-ray editions of Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2 simply pale in comparison to more recent high definition releases. Each one features a dated 1080p/VC-1 transfer that's riddled with severe aliasing, pixelation, and frequent edge distortion (a direct result of the pesky filtering applied to each transfer). The transfers suffer from rough-hewn, muddled dispositions that undermine what could have been a pair of impressive presentations. Compared to the discs' DVD counterparts, color saturation, contrast, and detail are all improved -- in fact, skin and fabric textures are decently defined, fine elements like sweat and hair are sharper, and delineation is more revealing. Unfortunately, banding, distracting edge enhancement, and artifacting compound the aforementioned issues, while source noise regularly interferes with the light veneer of grain that rests overtop the image. Adding insult to injury, noise reduction has been aggressively applied to a variety of scenes.
Lethal Weapon 2 looks slightly (I stress slightly) better, but it's only because the sequel had higher production values. From a technical standpoint, both transfers are identical. Granted, both Lethal Weapon transfers offer DVD owners a noticeable upgrade, but Warner's earliest plunge into high definition is riddled with unsightly jaggies and garish mishaps. Hopefully, the studio will revisit both films (as well as the entire series) and give these Donner classics the remasters they deserve.
Lethal Weapon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Both Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2 share similar audio presentations as well. While their standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks beg for a lossless upgrade, there are more sinister problems at work in each mix. Dialogue is muddier than I'm used to and several lines are lost beneath the series' gunplay and action sequences. Likewise, low-end extension is a bit soupy, leaving explosions and car collisions sounding dramatically weaker than Donner intended. Moreover, the rear speakers help to create rather immersive soundfields with convincing acoustics and involving ambience, but directionality is inexact at times and pans are too stocky for my high-def tastes. Even though I'm sure some of these issues can be traced back to the age of the films and the quality of their original sound design, I'm confident Warner's eventual Blu-ray re-releases will offer more powerful presence and faithful fidelity.
Ultimately, fans of the series will find both films sound better on Blu-ray than on DVD, but it's tough to justify spending money on releases that the studio is sure to revisit in the future. If you absolutely can't be without Riggs and Murtaugh, these are the editions to own. If you're patient, hold fast and wait for Warner to right their early Blu-ray wrongs.
Lethal Weapon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Like the DVD, the Blu-ray edition of Lethal Weapon merely includes five-minutes of deleted scenes and a presentation of the film's theatrical trailer. Worse still, it's all encoded in standard definition.
Lethal Weapon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While my affection for the Lethal Weapon series knows no bounds (I even enjoyed its overcrowded fourth outing), I can't recommend this Blu-ray release. Not only is its video transfer hindered by glaring problems, its audio track is a letdown and its supplemental package is nearly non-existent. Do yourself a favor: save ten bucks and wait for Warner to give Riggs and Murtaugh a proper Blu-ray release.
Lethal Weapon: Other Editions
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Lethal Weapon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Amazon Blu-ray Deal of the Week: Lethal Weapon (Expired) - February 17, 2013
Amazon's Blu-ray Deal of the Week affects Warner Home Entertainment Lethal Weapon Collection on Blu-ray. Through February 23rd, Amazon is offering this package for 54% off its standard MSRP of $79.98. The deal expires at 12 AM PST/3 AM EST next Sunday, February ...
• Lethal Weapon Blu-ray Collection (Updated) - February 14, 2012
In June, Warner Home Entertainment will release the Lethal Weapon Collection on Blu-ray. This box set collects all four entries in the popular action franchise, which stars Mel Gibson (The Road Warrior) and Danny Glover (The Color Purple) as two initially mismatched ...
• Casablanca, Lethal Weapon Blu-ray to Be Pulled from Shelves - February 18, 2011
Warner Home Video has announced a moratorium initiative starting March 28 for Casablanca and all four films in the Lethal Weapon series (of which only Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2 have been released on Blu-ray in the US). They will be re-released in 2012 in ...
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