Considered to be the flagship of the “buddy cop” action/comedy genre, the Lethal Weapon series has become one of the most popular action franchises of all times, beginning with this 1987 Richard Donner film starring Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs and Danny Glover as his by-the-book partner.
After the controversial suicide of his daughter, Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins) turns to his old war buddy Roger Murtaugh (Glover) to find out who killed her. Unfortunately, Murtaugh has his own worries as he’s just been assigned a new partner for his fiftieth birthday: loose cannon Martin Riggs. Grieving over the death of his wife three years earlier, Riggs nightly contemplates suicide, even after a day of busting drug dealers with a firestorm of bullets and Three Stooges gags.
But the investigation into the death of Hunsaker’s daughter takes a sinister turn when the mismatched cops uncover a heroin smuggling plot headed by General Peter McAllister (Mitchell Ryan) with the help of the super psychotic Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey). When Hunsaker is revealed as the pawn laundering the smugglers’ money, Mr. Joshua kills him and kidnaps Murtaugh’s daughter in an effort to learn everything the cops know. Armed to the gills, and following Riggs’s order to shoot to kill, the two begin the hunt to save a girl and stop a maniac. But their rescue effort turns into a trap and the two are tortured for their secrets. But unfortunately for the killers, pain only serves to strengthen Mr. Riggs, a lethal weapon in his own right, who escapes, frees his friends, and pursues his violent mandate to put an end to Mr. Joshua and his lackeys.
Lethal Weapon became a hit despite its spring release, grossing over four times its fifteen million dollar budget and well over a hundred million dollars worldwide. Mel Gibson became an official action star while Danny Glover’s career was also respectably anchored. Three highly successful sequels would follow: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998). It also influenced later mixed-race-buddy-cop movies, including the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon franchises. Suffice to say, Lethal Weapon made its considerable mark, one that is still resonating in the film industry.
If you are a fan of this classic 80s cop film, we hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories in our comments section.