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Lethal Weapon: Director's Cut

The film that all cop/buddy flicks are compared to, Richard Donner's 1987 Lethal Weapon has been reliable high-octane entertainment for several years, always welcome when it turns up on late-night cable and even worth a spin around the holidays. Aussie import Mel Gibson took at stab at the U.S. box-office, trying on an American accent (which didn't fit very well) as uncontrollable LAPD detective Martin Riggs, who, after the death of his wife, is transferred to new partner Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a stable family man who doesn't like complications, and especially the type that a 'Nam vet and emotional burnout like Riggs can provide. But when a renegade group of former Army officers, who are operating a heroin ring, are threatened with exposure, Riggs and Murtaugh trail the gang, whose chief henchman Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey) is about as sociopathic as they come. There are many weak points to Lethal Weapon, including some wooden dialogue and a lot of forced acting from supporting players, but Gibson and Glover were given the room to banter, and their many funny asides, along with some solid action sequences, have elevated it beyond the routine cop film (of course, the franchise became so popular that there are now three sequels). Warner's "Director's Cut" DVD of Lethal Weapon features a much better source print than the original disc from 1997 (still in print at this writing), but the only real additions to the film are about three sequences during the exposition that do little to improve upon the theatrical cut (and, in some ways, play against the lighthearted tone that originally defined the film). Another brief sequence between Riggs and a prostitute is tossed in towards the middle of the film, but again, it has little impact. With a pristine, colorful source-print and audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks, perhaps seamless branching — which would allow users to watch the original version here — would make this a great disc. As it stands, the original bare-bones DVD is still the only way to see this film in its tighter form. Solid anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), original theatrical trailer, notes on the martial arts used in the movie, cast-and-crew info. Snap-case.
—JJB



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