Lethal Weapon

When I was 19, I did a guy in Laos with a rifle shot at a thousand yards in high wind. Maybe eight or even ten guys in the world could have made that shot. It's the only thing I was ever good at. See you tomorrow.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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One of my little rules to live by is to never watch a movie on TV if I have it on DVD. Likewise, a way to make sure my DVDs don't rot on the shelf is to whip out an older one when I see it show up on the networks. This easter Lethal Weapon showed up and I thought I would give it a spin. Lethal Weapon may be the only good buddy cop movie. Sure it is the definition of cliche, but it is hard to think of a buddy-cop movie that came out before it, so it really doesn't count as cliche. What makes this one good while the thousands of others fail miserably is detail and depth. It is an action movie, have no doubt, and is far from the subtlety of the Godfather, but it does give it a good try. Yes, it gives us super-cops instead of realistic police, but it not only attempts to explain it, but makes fun of it at the same time. Riggs isn't just a normal vice cop, he used to be an assassin in Viet-Nam, and might be one of the ten deadliest shooters in the world. Stack that with his suicidal tendencies and his habit of shooting first and asking questions later and you have our hero. Murtaugh is mainly along for the ride and a little advise, not to mention a household full of handy hostages to give Riggs some motivation for murder. The action scenes are very well done, but a little 80s. One thing that has gotten better in recent days is the typical action scene. Long gone are the slow lumbering tiresome fights of the Roger Moore James Bond days. Now we hire Brazilian jiu-jitsu experts to do our fight scenes and spend quite a bit of time putting together the perfect action shooting sequence. Yes, Riggs hair is a bit Rod Stewart, but not everything can age gracefully. The bad guys give you a feeling for danger without over doing it, well not too much anyway. Top that with a story that is complex enough to fill two hours but not so complex that it trips it up. And finally, no sub plots.

The DVD is proof that Warner Brothers had their shit together while companies like Paramount were still thinking that DIVX was going to bank roll their mistresses for years. It is a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced transfer with a solid but not overdone Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. DTS hadn't even been thought about when it came to DVDs and we were all still amazed that we could skip tracks like a CD to notice that there weren't many extras. Still, I find myself just enjoying the movie without thinking how much better it could have been, and that is the sign of a good DVD.

Lethal Weapon was the unfortunate template for a bushel of bad take offs, including three sequels that did nothing but fall apart in comparison to this deep and dark action thriller. It is too bad that people feel they must one-up this movie instead of thinking back to what made it good in the first place. One must give this credit where credit is due and not judge it by the trash that came afterwards.