Lethal Weapon 3 (Lethal Weapon Collection) Blu-ray Review
Lethal Weapon 3 hits the US for the first time as part of this Lethal Weapon Collection, boasting the same stellar, demo-quality 1080p/VC-1 video presentation – in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen – as the UK Blu-ray collection got back in 2010. There’s no doubt that the intervening years have been extremely kind, allowing the 1992 movie to boast a quality and refinement that simply was not present in the original masters for the preceding 80s instalments.
Detail is excellent throughout, with none of the occasionally variable grain that prevented Lethal Weapon 1 and 2 from attaining a higher, or even reference standard marks (even if the same sporadic, slight softness similarly keeps this one from getting a perfect-10 score). Fine object detail, clothing textures, facial close-ups – they all look very good indeed, and there’s simply no sign of any digital defects: edge enhancement or excessive DNR application. The colour scheme is natural and vividly rendered, with deep and rich black levels allowing for some particularly impressive night-set sequences (including the opening credits, where the contrast on the fire is stunning). There’s really very little wrong with this superb rendition of the third film and, even if you might have some misgivings about the flawed film itself, the demo-quality video presentation certainly won’t add to your worries.
Making is US Blu-ray bow, Lethal Weapon 3 definitely benefits from the upgrade, and also from being 5 years younger than the first film. Again, identical to the UK counterpart, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is impressive right from the opening Sting/Eric Clapton track. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array where appropriate, whilst getting some occasional surround action. Effects are myriad, and often quite thunderous – the opening and closing explosions; the numerous shootouts involving handgun and machine-pistol fire; the car chases and subway screeches – all allowing the film to engage aurally even if it does not always hit the spot substantively. There’s some nice depth to the atmospherics too, not quite enough to secure this a demo spot, but pretty damn close. The LFE channel has more than enough to do and the score provides the surrounds with yet more material to play with, and it’s not like this was a particularly quiet movie to begin with! It’s a great lossless offering, significantly more impressive than Lethal Weapon’s accompaniment, slightly better than Lethal Weapon 2’s track and just shy of the fourth entry’s bombastic mix.
Each movie in the US Lethal Weapon Collection offers up all of the same extras that came with the respective Director’s Cut DVD releases some time ago (apart from, of course, the Director’s Cut versions of the films themselves), and we also get a fifth disc in the set that offers up 4 newly-commissioned Documentaries (well, at least, newly-commissioned in 2010 and therefore also on the equivalent UK release).
Commentary by Director Richard Donner
Continuing his run of accompanying tracks, rather than losing steam, Donner actually picks up the pace for this third chapter, thrashing his way through the multiple story-lines of Lethal Weapon 3 and relating a slightly less scene-specific commentary which benefits from being more impassioned. This is still material for avid fans only, but those who would like to learn a bit more about the flawed third entry could do worse than listen to this as a starting point.
As with the disc for Lethal Weapon 2, just the three Deleted Scenes (4 minutes of footage) are included here – no additional footage beyond that which was included back into the Director’s Cut – and, again, it’s nothing intrinsic to the plot, with mainly more dialogue and a bit where the two dogs meet. Only SD.
The disc is rounded off by a 5-minute Music Video by Sting and Eric Clapton for the title credits track “It’s Probably Me”, and the movie’s Original 2-minute Theatrical Trailer, both presented in SD.
The fifth disc in the Lethal Weapon Collection comes complete with four relatively newly-minted half-hour 1080i High Definition Documentaries commissioned in 2010 and thus already available on the UK release a couple of years back.
Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon starts off the selection, a warm retrospective on the start of the whole franchise – from Shane Black’s fledgling script to the casting and how the leads had such great chemistry, to the 80s studio mentality and the fresh ideas of the action-comedy style. With a great little three-way conversation between Gibson, Glover and Donner at the centre of the piece, as well as interview segments with Shane Black and some of the producers – including Joel Silver – this is a wonderful little piece that offers up some welcome background into the production and how this was the start of something special.
A Family Affair: Bringing Lethal Weapon to Life continues in the same vein, offering yet further insight into the production of the first movie, with many of the same production crew on hand, as well as the cinematographer, designers and the stunt coordination, to look at how their ideas soon shifted from daring action-comedy-thriller to blockbuster franchise in a heartbeat.
Pulling the Trigger: Expanding the World of Lethal Weapon shifts focus to the sequels, looking at how the first movie’s sizeable success guaranteed and almost instant sequel, and how they tied it into the original movie, whilst also making some changes to Shane Black’s script, not just to avoid the death of Riggs, but also to take in some more relevant current affairs – including the South African backdrop. Expanding the story, bringing back the cast and making the action bigger yet still just as potent was all part of the agenda, and this makes for a brilliant look at how they made it happen.
Maximum Impact: The Legacy of Lethal Weaponcloses out this excellent series of Documentaries with a look at how popular the franchise has become, its standout success third and fourth times out, and the filmmakers’ determination to round out the series without resorting to CG – real stunts being a staple of the franchise. Renee Russo’s and Jet Li’s contributions are noted for the third and fourth movies, respectively, and the Documentary closes with a look at the legacy of the Lethal Weapon franchise, and the impact that it had on the future of blockbuster action movies.
Continuing my retrospective look at some of Mel Gibson’s biggest hitters and, most prominently, the Lethal Weapon Collection, we turn to the flawed third movie in the series – which, whilst being the biggest Box Office success of all the entries, was also arguably the most heavily criticised. The reality is that Lethal Weapon 3 has some great ideas; some great sub-stories and character development, but unfortunately they are almost all smothered by the grandstanding stunt spectacles and prevalent comedy moments that the filmmakers (and writers) clearly wanted to take precedence. Still, it’s definitely got the fun factor turned up high enough to prove entertaining, albeit in a slightly different way to the previous two movies.
With the Lethal Weapon Collection finally making its US Blu-ray debut a whole 2 years after it was released in the UK, this Region Free package sports nothing new in comparison to its across-the-pond counterpart. As part of the collection Lethal Weapon 3 boasts impressive video and audio, as well as not only all of the previously-released extras, but also a fifth disc complete with newly-recorded material. If you haven’t yet picked up the Lethal Weapon Collection, then take this as a subtle reminded: after all, no true movie fan’s collection is complete without these great movies.
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