Lethal Weapon 4
The main bad guys are out- of-control cops Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). For the last three movies these two guys have been violating American citizens' rights and even taking the trouble to violate the basic human rights of people who were citizens of other countries. By this movie their decadent ways are catching up with them: both Rigg's girlfriend and Murtagh's daughter are pregnant out of wedlock.
This film also features the unwanted return of Leo Getz, played by Joe Pesci. Pesci can be very funny, but he really should be used in smaller doses than he is here. We would have to admit that the fact that he manages to deliver his final "serious" speech (an absolutely ridiculous story about his boyhood pet frog) without breaking into laughter proves to us that he deserves that Oscar he won. A much funnier presence in the film is Chris Rock, as a cop named Lee Butters. He improvised almost all of his dialogue, and it's all hilarious. Butters spends most of his time on screen kissing up to Murtaugh, because he's in love with the older policeman's daughter. We were kind of hoping it was a ruse by Butters to infiltrate Murtaugh's family on behalf of Li's heroic character, but alas, this was not to be.
Li made such a good impression on American preview audiences that his name and face were added to the newspaper ads at the last minute. A pretty notable accomplishment, considering the huge number of established stars that were already in the crowded poster. (Another bonus for U.S. fans of Jet: Jet Li doesn't usually do his voice in his Cantonese films, so this movie is a good opportunity to hear his real voice.)
The plot of Lethal Weapon 4 is pretty scattershot, even by Lethal Weapon standards. Towards the end of the film the story falls apart totally, and we as an audience are left to take it as read that all the major characters will end up in a warehouse at the end of the film and have a fight. Why they're all there, and what they're fighting about, we're not sure. What we do know is that it's great fun to watch Jet Li beat the crap out of Mel Gibson before setting Danny Glover's house on fire.
Jet Li has always been his own best special effect, and despite the fact that this is an American movie, the martial arts scenes are quite good. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that Corey Yuen, a well-regarded action director in Hong Kong, worked on the fight choreography. The final fight is particularly good. In keeping with their villianous natures, Riggs and Murtaugh make a cowardly assault on Wah with a forklift, a pistol, a pointy metal thing and an assault rifle, and they still feel the need to double-team him. But Wah fights back and nearly beats them anyway.
"Nearly beats," of course, because the greatest indignity of this picture is the fact that, like all the other Lethal Weapon films, the evil Murtaugh and Riggs actually win the day. Despite an Herculean effort by Li's character, the badly aging dastardly duo actually manage to get the better of him, killing our poor hero before moving on to other evil deeds involving some stupid mumbo-jumbo about telepathy via male bonding -- or something like that.
Lethal Weapon 4 seems to be the last in the Lethal Weapon series. Yet again we see the ruin that Riggs and Murtaugh leave behind all across the landscape of California. At least this movie featured a hero we could root for.
Review date: 1/27/98
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