Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

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Released 10-May-1999

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-2
Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 113:05
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Richard Donner
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Joe Pesci
Rene Russo
Stuart Wilson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Michael Kamen
Eric Clapton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes, a quick joke at the end of the credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Lethal Weapon 3 marks the first time in the Lethal Weapon series when the end result has been a disappointment compared to what could have been done with the story and its characters. Granted, the heroes are still mostly in fine form with their wisecracks and outlandishly bad behaviour, but this marks the first time in the series where the villains are reduced to little more than cardboard cut-outs. The main bad guy in this particular instalment is a major disappointment, and certainly doesn't stack up well against Gary Busey or Derrick O'Connor and their more-than-worthy portrayals of Riggs' opponents in the previous two episodes. After fighting with Mister Joshua and Pieter Vorstedt, you'd expect Riggs to clean up Jack Travis for a bit of light exercise.

    Nonetheless, the film begins with homicide detectives Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) arriving at a building that has been cleaned out by the emergency services because there is a bomb in the parking lot. Martin figures that it's either a threat or a scare, but one of the firemen present declares it to be the real thing and introduces a man who actually saw the explosive device in the back seat of a car. Martin, figuring the witness simply saw some kind of electronic device in the back seat and mistook it for a bomb, drags Roger into the parking lot with him to check it out. Roger is meant to retire in a matter of days, so he simply wants to lay low and let the time go quietly, but Martin won't have a bar of it. Naturally, the device on the back seat of the car turns out to be a real bomb, and Martin sets to work on defusing it. Unfortunately, his attempt doesn't work as planned, and our two heroes just barely make it out of the building before it goes up in a blazing pillar of fire, just in time for the bomb squad to show up. Well, at least they managed to save the cat they found in the parking lot.

    This, of course, is one of the first disappointments of Lethal Weapon 3 - an opening stunt sequence that has nothing at all to do with the rest of the film. After the bomb sequence, we find our two heroes busted down to lowly patrolmen, presumably to give a lead-in for the next sequence that moves the story along. Why this demotion is in the slightest bit necessary for the plot, I have no idea, but the end result is a uniformed Martin and Roger chasing a pair of armoured car robbers along a highway. When they succeed in apprehending one of them, Captain Ed Murphy (Steve Kahan) reinstates them as detectives, much to the ire of Internal Affairs and their newly-introduced representative, Lorna Cole (Rene Russo). Together, they wander down to the interrogation room and discover the suspect they arrested from the armoured car robbery, Billy Phelps (Mark Pellegrino), has been shot.

    When the detectives try to determine who shot Billy and why, we see the first use of a convenient, however mildly so, plot device in this series: it seems that Internal Affairs installed cameras in the interrogation rooms of every station without their knowledge, and the one in this interrogation room reveals that Billy was shot by former police Lieutenant Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson). In case I didn't make it clear the first time, this is the first time the Lethal Weapon series has had an antagonist that I honestly expected Martin Riggs to chew up and spit out. In any case, Travis' criminal enterprise is relatively simple: every now and again, he breaks into the police vaults to steal weapons that were scheduled for destruction. Combining these weapons with armour-piercing ammunition, he sells them to various street-level distributors for a tidy profit, which he then invests back in the construction of a village full of townhouses. It certainly gives you food for thought when you pass by the latest urban sprawls and wonder exactly where the budget for construction is coming from.

    Anyway, in spite of having a less-than-threatening bad guy and an even more annoying Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), who gets taken care of in a highly amusing manner after being shot by Travis, the banter between the heroes keeps this episode entertaining. One exchange after Nick Murtaugh's (Damon Hines) conversation with his friend, Darryl (Bobby Wynn) is interrupted by Roger is hilarious enough to save the entire film by itself. "Word, Martin..." "Word, Roger..." "What the hell are we talking about, anyway?" Word, indeed!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Many hold Lethal Weapon 3 to be the weakest film in the series, while others like Michael and I believe Lethal Weapon 4 to be the weaker of the two. If this transfer is to be held as a good indication, however, the third episode is the weakest of the bunch.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is the sharpest of the Lethal Weapon series, with more definition and clarity than even the original episode, which was transferred at a significantly later date. The shadow detail is also excellent, with plenty of subtle gradations between light and dark on offer, as opposed to the large expanses of black that dominated the previous two films to a small extent. There was no low-level noise or film grain evident in the image at any given time.

    The colour saturation in this transfer is warm and vibrant, which clashes quite severely with the dark and understated style that was a deliberate artistic choice in the previous two films. Indeed, friends of mine have referred to Lethal Weapon 3 as the episode where everything begins to look pretty at the expense of the story. Still, the colour saturation is consistent from start to finish, and there are no problems with undersaturation or bleeding.

    MPEG artefacts are not a serious problem for this transfer, save for the occasional moment such as at 37:33, where the background threatens to break out in a series of macro-blocks. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor telecine wobble in the opening credits, and an occasional display of aliasing in car grilles and the edges of windows. Film artefacts are mildly problematic in this transfer, but there is only one instance of a seriously distracting artefact at 31:44, which is positioned and shaped in just such a manner that it could be confused with a reel change marking. It isn't actually a reel change marking, but I have no real idea of what it is, as it looks more like a pink oval with a black outline, which would be consistent with the interpositive being slightly overheated at this time and location in the film.

Audio

    Again, it also stands to reason that a contender for the weakest film of the series should be afforded the best transfer. There are three soundtracks provided on this DVD, all of them in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second: the original English dialogue, with dubs in French and Italian. I listened to the default English soundtrack without bothering to compare the foreign dubs.

    The dialogue is mostly clear and easy to make out, although there are still one or two lines that are a little difficult to make out because of the actors' occasional mumbling, or some imperfect recording techniques. There were no perceptible problems with audio sync.

    The score music by Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn is starting to become a little weary and repetitious, mainly because there seems to be little distinction between the musical cues used in tense situations or lighter moments. I am extremely certain that if you blindfolded a viewer and played the musical cues from all four Lethal Weapon films at them, they would not be able to discern which film each of the scenes where the score is present are actually from. This is not necessarily bad, as the score music is still quite enjoyable, it just needs a little more variety.

    The surround channels are used aggressively to support the music and action sequences, and they create a reasonably immersive sound field in doing so. The surround channels seemed to be more actively involved in this film, with more directional effects and volume present in those channels. There were also less instances of the soundtrack collapsing into straight stereo or mono, with only one or two sequences being biased towards the front of the soundstage. The subwoofer was used frequently to support explosions, gunshots, and other action sequence effects, and it seemed to truly have a fun time with this film without calling any specific attention to itself.

Extras

Menu

    The menu is in the usual static style common to early-generation Warner Brothers DVDs, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. It is also quite ugly to look at.

Theatrical Trailer 1

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this two-and-a-half minute trailer is in a similarly jovial style to most of the other Lethal Weapon trailers.

Theatrical Trailer 2

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this ninety-four second trailer contains some rather strange edits of the original soundtrack.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Biographies for Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, producer Joel Silver, and director Richard Donner are provided. They are of moderate length, readability, and interest.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Once again, a second version of this film has become available on Region 1 DVD with the film cut to the director's specifications and a DTS soundtrack.

    The Region 4 and Region 1 standard versions of this disc misses out on;

    Once again, Widescreen Review have indicated that the full-bitrate DTS soundtrack does not add anything to the film except for more definition in the lower registers of the soundtrack. Three minutes of additional footage is also not much to get excited about, as I can hardly see it adding nearly as much to the film as the six minutes of footage that was restored to the Criterion edition of Robocop. Additionally, in spite of RSDL formatting, the picture quality reportedly suffers from pixelization, MPEG artefacts, minor edge enhancement, and a "pasty" look in some scenes. Our local version of the disc would be the better choice due to the cleaner-looking picture.

Summary

    Lethal Weapon 3 is a slight letdown compared to the previous two episodes, but it is miles ahead of Lethal Weapon 4. It is presented on a good DVD.

    The video quality is very good, let down only by a little too much aliasing.

    The audio quality is also very good.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Monday, January 10, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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