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Lethal Weapon 4
 
     "Yeah! We fleeced America again!"     "This is still better than working with Wong Jing!"

(left) Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, and (right) Jet Li goes swimming with Gibson.
 
  Year: 1998    
  Director: Richard Donner    
  Producer: Joel Silver  
  Action: Corey Yuen Kwai  
  Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, Jet Li Lian-Jie, Steve Kahan, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Kim Chan, Eddy Ko Hung, Conan Lee Yuen-Ba  
The Skinny: Jet Li makes his first American film appearance in this loud, noisy car wreck also known as Lethal Weapon 4. This sequel is fun stuff for fans of the entire series, though its political correctness—and success as an actual film—are questionable.  
  Review
by Kozo:

     The only reason this overblown sequel in the Lethal Weapon series makes the HK Cinema list is because it's the American debut of HK action superstar Jet Li. Quite frankly, his US splash couldn't have come in a bigger way. He plays a ruthless Chinese triad who's involved in a massive counterfeiting scam and goes up against the two Lethal mainstays, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Sadly, he's pure evil in this film.
      Since our last installment, both Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) have gotten too old, but they continue to disregard police procedure, destroy public property, and brutalize the criminal element. Things get wackier with the presence of new cop Chris Rock, and the continuing annoyance of Joe Pesci as Leo Getz. Rene Russo returns as Lorna Cole, who's now carrying Rigg's baby. Plot kicks in when illegal Chinese immigrants (including HK film veteran Eddy Ko Hung) are discovered in Los Angeles. Murtaugh shelters them from the law—a no-no for a law enforcement officer—while Riggs makes off-color jokes in the background. Meanwhile, the bad guys (led by evil bastard Jet Li) act remorselessly evil.
      Despite the above description, there appears to be virtually no plot to this mega-blockbuster wannabe. The shooting script was clearly ad-libbed from start to finish, which is possible when you have an unlimited budget and Mel Gibson as your star. Rumor has it that this flick was a make-or-break monster for Warner Brothers, and it did pretty well (about $120 million) for a straight action flick.
     Back to the HK angle: Jet Li does well for himself, showing incredible speed and power in what proves to be only sporadic bursts of action. Sadly, he's just a bad guy here, and shows no acting chops beyond evil sneers and menacing looks. Then again, Li's acting ability has always been in question, though he has shown good screen charisma. Here's hoping that he can harness that charisma in a better suited US vehicle. On a side note, Tiger on Beat star Conan Lee makes an appearance as Li's brother.
     The rest of the film is hit or miss. As commercial fluff goes, Lethal Weapon 4 is offensive and disturbing because it uses racist stereotypes and blatant abuse of police power to create bang-em-up mass entertainment. That's fine for anyone who has the brains to separate fantasy from fiction. Sadly, it's likely that there are many people out there who don't have a brain to pick up a fork with, much less understand what goes into making this increasingly complex and dangerous world. Hopefully, no future policemen were influenced by the Lethal Weapon films, because if so they're in for a rude awakening. Get this straight: if you pull what Riggs and Murtaugh do in these films, you'll either be tagged for the morgue or sentenced to a good twenty-five years in prison. And you won't score women like Rene Russo.
     Still, for myself, I admit that I like the Lethal Weapon movies because I find it endearing that all the actors return, and that they all seem to enjoy working together. That chemistry comes out in the final product, as Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and company seem to really care for one another both onscreen and off. On the other hand, Gibson received $25 million for this movie, which was probably mighty persuasive. Does anyone know what Jet Li made? (Kozo 1998)

 
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Warner Bros. Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
English Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
 

image courtesy of Warner Bros.

   
 
 
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