Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

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Released 10-May-1999

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer-1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Featurette-Stunts and Action (3:49)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 109:45
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
Joss Ackland
Derrick O'Connor
Patsy Kensit
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
Arabic
Dutch
French
Italian
Portuguese
Spanish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    As is always the case when a film becomes a success beyond all expectations, and in spite of not having a great deal of technical finesse to begin with, the Lethal Weapon franchise was afforded a sequel. Of course, the original episode attracted a lot of controversy for its mayhemic violence, in spite of the fact that this really only makes up a quarter of the film, so the makers decided that everyone should get to see twice as much destruction this time around. The film begins with Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), as well as other detectives from their unit, in pursuit of some expensive cars that are being driven in quite a reckless manner. Riggs and Murtaugh had told Captain Ed Murphy (Steve Kahan) that this was simply going to be your average drug-bust, but they didn't count on their suspects chatting over the CB network in a language that no one in the department had heard before, or helicopters coming to pick up some of their suspects in the middle of the street. Nor did they count on finding half a million dollars worth of South African Krugerands in the boot of one of the overturned cars.

    The next night, the head of the syndicate for which the smugglers work comes to the decision that the head of the taskforce that just ate a big hole in their revenue, who just happens to be Murtaugh, should be "warned off". As a result, Captain Ed decides that his two wildest detectives could use a break from their regular assignments, so he assigns them to "babysit" a star witness until "all the red tape is processed". As luck, or at least bad lack for the audience, would have it, the star witness turns out to be Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), and audiences in 1989 weren't quite sure whether the bad guys or the good guys would shoot him first. After a bungled assassination attempt that results in Martin punching Leo in the face while half-submerged in the hotel's pool, Leo reveals that he is in the Witness Protection Program because he laundered half a billion dollars in drug money.

    Since our heroes have nothing better to do, they decide to go and check the drug dealers' headquarters out, which results in a hilarious encounter with the failed hitman and a surfboard. Naturally, our heroes come back to the house on stilts, leading their squad in a raid upon the premises, and it turns out that the drug dealers Leo remembers laundering money for and the Krugerand smugglers are the same people. Led by Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) and Pieter Vorstedt (Derrick O'Connor), the drug dealers turn out to be South African diplomats who hide behind their diplomatic credentials while making untold amounts of money from trading between drugs, dollars, and Krugerands. As the detectives are unable to arrest the smugglers due to the Diplomatic Relations Act, they leave the site empty-handed and about to draw more of Captain Ed's ire. As luck would have it, however, Riggs salvages a little good out of the situation by meeting Rika Van Den Haas (Patsy Kensit), Arjen's secretary. After that, the smugglers and our duo of mismatched detectives declare all-out war on each other, with results that are highly predictable since we have two more sequels to deal with.

    Although the series has definitely been showing signs of strain in the past two episodes, Lethal Weapon 2 is still rather fresh because it stays reasonably close to the tone of the original. Some have criticized the changes in Mel Gibson's character as being inconsistent with the original episode, but I can tell you with quite a certainty that it is actually very consistent with how a man who had nothing to lose changes when he suddenly finds a comrade he actually likes to work with and a family that is accepting and tolerant of him. The humour that has been infused into this episode is mostly an enhancement to the story, although I'm sure I'm not the only one who really wanted to join the South African smugglers as they beat the crap out of Leo. In any case, if you enjoyed the original episode, then this sequel will make a nice adjunct.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp enough to be presentable, but the backgrounds and other such details that aren't the primary focus of the shot tend to look blurred and indistinct. The shadow detail is average, with a minimal amount of detail viewable in the darker parts of the shots. Although I have not seen this film in the theatre, I would hazard a guess that the amount of detail visible in the darkness was better when it was displayed in theatres. There is no low-level noise to spoil the image.

    The colour saturation of this film and its transfer follows the standard set by the previous film, with a muted a dull look that emphasizes the atmosphere of the story. There are no signs of misregistration, oversaturation, or undersaturation. Colour bleeding was a very slight problem when Riggs wore his red shirt, but this is the only specific problem with colour in the transfer.

    MPEG artefacts were a problem for this transfer, although it would have been nice if an extra layer had been used to preserve the sharpness of the background in a few shots. Film-to-video artefacts, especially aliasing, are a major problem for this transfer, with numerous linear objects shimmering dreadfully on numerous occasions. At 41:12, the top of a car door can be seen shimmering in spite of the fact that there is no apparent camera movement during this shot, and the shot of Riggs' caravan at 48:42 also contains a similar amount of aliasing in spite of a stationary camera. Telecine wobble is a minor problem, but I only became dimly aware of it when trying to focus on certain details started to give me a headache. Film artefacts consisted of numerous minor white marks on the image, as well as some black spots and a hair or two, but these were acceptable within the limits of an eleven-year-old film.

Audio

    There are three soundtracks available on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, as well as dubs in French and Italian, both of which are also encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1, although they have more of a tendency to sound just like a 2.1 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the default English soundtrack, and had a brief listen to the dubs to see if there was any notable difference in surround activity. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand for the most part, although some words are occasionally hard to make out, and some limits are posed by the obviously put-on South African accents. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, at least not subjectively.

    The score music in this film is credited to Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn. The last of these three was added to this film for reasons I can only guess at, as the score music in this film sounds more or less the same as that of the previous film. In spite of this, the score music is still effective in this episode, lending more or less the right atmosphere to most of the proceedings. The lack of any pseudo-contemporary numbers such as in the nightclub scenes of the original film makes the score a little more immune to becoming dated.

    The surround channels are used frequently and aggressively to support the action sequences and the music, although it often seems like both channels are being used at once as you'd expect from a Pro-Logic mix. There are occasional moments when the sound field becomes biased towards the front channels, but like the lack of truly directional surround effects, this can be blamed upon the soundtrack that the film was released in theatres with, rather than the transfer itself. In spite of this, the soundtrack is moderately immersive and draws the viewer into the film quite nicely. The subwoofer had a wonderful time supporting the lower frequencies of the soundtrack, with music, gunshots, and explosions all blasting out of the LFE channel at regular intervals. The subwoofer did little to call any specific attention to itself.

Extras

Menu

    The menu is in the usual static style of early generation Warner Brothers DVDs, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

Featurette - Stunts And Action

    This featurette is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound. It is well worth watching in spite of its short length, giving an interesting look at how two of the stunt sequences, including the Flying Surfboard sequence, were shot.

Cast And Crew Biographies

    Biographies for Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Joe Pesci are provided under the usual Warner Brothers cast menu, while biographies for director Richard Donner and producer Joel Silver are provided under their own heading in the Special Features menu. These biographies contain no revealing information, and are of average length.

R4 vs R1

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

    Again, a director's cut of Lethal Weapon 2 has become available in Region 1 with a DTS soundtrack.

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

    The Region 1 director's cut edition of this disc misses out on;     According to Widescreen Review, the DTS soundtrack available on the Region 1 version of this disc only adds more bass definition to the film, and is nothing to get excited about. In spite of being RSDL formatted, the Region 1 disc also suffers from pixelization and heavy grain, making the Region 4 version the better choice due to a slightly cleaner picture.

Summary

    Lethal Weapon 2 is a worthy follow-up to the original, with only minor indications of the faults that would severely tarnish the later episodes.

    The video quality is good, but suffers a noticeable problem with aliasing and shadow detail.

    The audio quality is 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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