Lethal Weapon (’87-’98)

Lethal Weapon (’87-’98)

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: November 15th 2010
Certificate: 18

Director: Richard Donner

Cast: Chris Rock, Jet Li, Kim Chan, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Joe Pesci, Joss Ackland, Patsy Kensit, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Rene Russo

The Buddy Cop movie has seen many pairings over the years. Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs (1982) are often credited with starting the run, but its roots can be traced back to In the Heat of the Night (1967) with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger or even further back with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet (1887).

What makes a buddy cop movie? Usually, 2 male cops, from different ethnic backgrounds with very different and conflicting personalities who are forced to work together but along the way become good friends.

Lethal Weapon ('87-'98)

Such is the case with Lethal Weapon and its 3 sequels, directed by Richard Bonner and starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson as Murtaugh and Riggs. Set in Los Angeles during the Christmas period, Murtaugh is a by-the-book detective who’s getting a bit long in the tooth. He has a wonderful family and they live in a beautiful house in a great neighbourhood. Riggs on the other hand is a bit of a loose canon. Several years younger, living in a trailer with his dog Sam, he is on the brink of suicide after the recent death of his wife which he blames himself for.

When Riggs almost kills a suspect during a drug bust, he is quickly transferred to a different unit and assigned to work as Murtaugh’s partner. The pair don’t hit it off but put aside their differences when they go to investigate the apparent suicide of a prostitute. During a shootout at the scene, Riggs ends up saving Murtaugh’s life which finally breaks the ice between them. As they continue to investigate the case based on Riggs’ leads on a heroin-smuggling operation being run by former Vietnam special operations troops they come to depend more and more on each other, despite their differences. For Murtaugh, it’s about having someone he knows will watch his back, but also a friend who eventually ends up being a member of his own family. For Riggs, it’s a chance to rebuild his life and move forward after the recent tragedy he’s suffered.

Lethal Weapon ('87-'98)Lethal Weapon ('87-'98)Lethal Weapon ('87-'98)Lethal Weapon ('87-'98)

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Danny Glover, reflecting back on his role as Murthaugh, said:

“Aside from the chance to work with Mel, which turned out to be pure pleasure, one of the reasons I jumped at this project was the family aspect. The chance to play intricate relationships and subtle humour that exist in every close family group was an intriguing challenge, as was playing a guy turning 50. Murtaugh’s a little cranky about his age until everything he loves is threatened. His reawakening parallels Riggs.”

Incidentally, Glover was only 40 at the time when he took on the role. Mel Gibson also had a few words to say about his role as Riggs:

“This particular story was a cut above others I had passed on, because the action is really a sideline which heightens the story of these two great characters. I picture Riggs as an almost Chaplinesque figure, a guy who doesn’t expect anything from life and even toys with the idea of taking his own. He’s not like these stalwarts who come down from Mt. Olympus and wreak havoc and go away. He’s somebody who doesn’t look like he’s set to go off until he actually does.”

Lethal Weapon ('87-'98)


  • Running time: 109 minutes
  • Commentary by Richard Donner
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Music Video: Honeymoon Suite
  • Additional Scenes


  • Running time: 114 minutes
  • Commentary by Richard Donner
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Vintage Featurette
  • Stunts and Action
  • Additional Scenes


  • Running time: 118 minutes
  • Commentary by Richard Donner
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Music Video: Sting/Eric Clapton “It’s Probably Me”
  • Additional Scenes


  • Running time: 127 minutes
  • Commentary by Richard Donner
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Documentary: Pure Lethal!


  • Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon
  • A Family Affair: Bring Lethal Weapon to Life
  • Pulling the Trigger: Expanding the World Of Lethal Weapon
  • Maximum Impact: The Legacy of Lethal Weapon

It might not have been the first one, or the last one, but Lethal Weapon definitely serves as one of the best examples of the Buddy Cop movie and probably one of Mel Gibson’s best character portrayals.

Its 3 sequels, all directed by Richard Donner who brought us some amazing films during a 50-year career including The Omen (1976), Superman (1978), The Goonies (1985), Scrooged (1988) and Timeline (2003), also introduced audiences to the loveable sidekick, Leo Getz (Joe Pesci). The hyperactive, motor-mouth came in as a character Murtaugh and Riggs had to protect as a witness in a drug-smuggling and money-laundering ring in Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) but returned in Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) when they took on martial arts legend Jet Li in his first Hollywood film role.

Released as a complete box set on Blu-ray, the Lethal Weapon Collection not only cleans up picture and sound but also comes packed with special features. Each disc contains a commentary by Donner. Music videos, extended and deleted scenes, and theatrical trailers round up the extras. There is also a 5th disc with 4 documentaries that go behind the scenes and talk about the characters, effects, stunts and the legacy of the franchise which gave filmgoers 4 memorable Buddy Cop movies!

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