Lethal Weapon (HD DVD)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Mel Gibson, Richard Donner and Danny Glover are almost as synonymous as Moe, Curly and Larry (more on that in Lethal Weapon 3). These men have collaborated on at least five movies and all of them are memorable, but none such as this first installment in the Lethal Weapon series. We see a Mel Gibson that had not yet become the megastar that he is today, though a very well-established actor at the time. In this, the Director’s Cut of Lethal Weapon, we’re treated to a few scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor the first time around (and the first time around for the DVD version as well).

We meet Martin Riggs at his brink of literal suicide, which we find out later he’s mourning the death of his wife. Unlike the hammy, goofy Riggs that we see in parts 2-4, we see that this is definitely a darker more “on the edge” Mel Gibson. Gibson plays the role to a tee, and it’s this edginess that made this movie the best (in my opinion) of the series. His soon to be partner, Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is investigating the apparent suicide of one of his Vietnam buddies daughter. We also learn that Murtaugh is turning 50, looking retirement in the face, sees his kids growing up before his eyes and is does strange things to him. What he needs least of all is some wild cannon of a new partner, which he gets. Initially, the two don’t hit if off, but as they are around each other more and more, it eventually evolves into a very strong friendship. Featuring Gary Busey as the psychotic Mr. Joshua. We learn about the history of Riggs and his connection to the parties that eventually kidnap Murtaugh’s daughter, it’s interesting though not essential to the plot.

As mentioned above, Lethal Weapon is unlike any of the other Lethal Weapon series due to its gritty, tough storyline. I don’t think at the time they made this, they had a sequel in mind, let alone three more. Richard Donner took a chance and made the movie. Gibson’s performance, in my opinion, rivals his in Braveheart in terms of sheer performing. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing that grin on his face, it’s hard to believe that he started out doing movies like this, Gallipoli, and the Mad Max series (try and find a grin on his face in that trilogy)! A staple of the late 80’s/early 90’s “Lethal Weapon” is a bit dated, but a great movie nonetheless.

Video: How does it look?

I have to admit that I’ve been so impressed with HD-DVD that watching things on standard DVD has made me even pickier. I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this new HD version of “Lethal Weapon”, but after popping in the disc and advancing a few scenes, I was literally floored by how clean and sharp this is. The 1.85:1 transfer has never looked so good, no sign of artifacting or any edge enhancement in the least (they’re not even an issue in HD). I was so taken by the clarity of the transfer, it got me pumped for more catalog releases in the new format. Take, for example, the scene in which Riggs is trying to talk the jumper out of killing himself. You can read the writing on the windows of the stores below. I’m serious! For a movie that’s coming up on its 20th birthday, “Lethal Weapon” looks simply amazing.

Audio: How does it sound?

The older “Director’s Cut” of this movie on DVD was part of a wave of movies that had DTS soundtracks and if memory serves “Twister” and “Interview with the Vampire” were a few of the others that fell into that category. Warner never really did many other movies with DTS soundtracks and that track didn’t make it on the HD-DVD. Instead, we’re treated to a very good-sounding Dolby Digital Plus mix that sounds even better than the DTS did. I was pretty impressed that the movie sounded as good as it did. Parts do sound a bit iffy, but they’re few and far between. The LFE are pretty active and the surrounds do make their presence known from time to time. “Lethal Weapon” doesn’t sound quite as good as it looks, but darn close.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The deleted scenes are ported over as a supplement as is the original theatrical trailer. Put it this way, you’re getting everything you got on the standard “Director’s Cut” DVD with a far superior picture and better sound. If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

Disc Scores