Lethal Weapon 2-Director's Cut (1989)

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Released 25-Sep-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Stunts And Action
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 113:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
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
David Sanborn


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
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, but Martin is trying to quit. Honest.
Annoying Product Placement Yes, want to guess which company made Martin's jacket?
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    When a film succeeds well beyond expectations and its own budget as Lethal Weapon did, it stands to reason that the film company will want to indulge in a few sequels, just as Warner Brothers have also done with the Mad Max franchise. Lethal Weapon 2 is the first and most successful attempt to return to the well, as well as the only sequel in the series that really stands up to repeat viewings. Of course, with financial limitations removed to a great extent, the writers and director obviously felt that they had to have more of everything: more gunshots, more explosions, more deaths (and more inventive ones at that), and more sex. The only problem with this approach is that they also felt that they had to have more unnecessary comedy, when it was the gritty realism of the original that made it such a big hit.

    The story picks up a couple of years after the events in the original Lethal Weapon, with Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) speeding after a group of drug smugglers in a station wagon. The drug bust escalates a long way from what Roger had originally estimated, with a two-way chase ensuing before a helicopter emerges in the middle of a city block to pick up two of the perps. When the other suspect manages to crash into what looks like a small restaurant, Martin and Roger think they've managed to let him get away until they hear a clunking noise in the boot. When they open it, however, what they find is a massive fortune in South African Krugerrands, so much so that the man who lost them, Hans (Mark Rolston) is shot dead. The leaders of this rather nasty mob, Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) and Pieter Vorstedt (Derrick O'Connor), decide that warning the police off would be the best way to go. To this end, the latter invades Roger's home, tapes both him and Trish (Darlene Love) up, then threaten them in the same sort of way that one can only credit to psychopaths or cowards.

    Thinking that the dynamic duo could use a break, Captain Ed Murphy (Steve Kahan) puts them on the case of Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), figuring that they can protect this man until the Feds take over. After one of the South African thugs attempts to assassinate all three of them, however, they soon find that the drug dealers they were chasing in the opening sequence and the people Leo is scheduled to testify against are the same people. When they raid the house, however, they are also dismayed to find that these smugglers just happen to be South African diplomats, and that they cannot be prosecuted under international laws. Essentially, they are resurrecting the triangle trade, with drugs being exchanged for dollars, which are in turn exchanged for Krugerrands. Of course, in the meantime we are given an update in the progress of the lives of Rianne (Traci Wolfe), Nick (Damon Hines), and Carrie Murtaugh (Ebonie Smith), with the first seeming to have recovered well from her experiences in the previous episode. Since there are another two sequels in the franchise, you know full well that the destructive duo are going to kill all the bad guys and destroy their property. The fun, as they say, is in watching them do it.

    Of the three sequels, this is definitely the best, with our heroes in fine form and the real main nemesis of the show being quite a formidable opponent with a bit of personality. The only weak point I can think of in this film compared to its predecessor is that the good guys just don't seem to develop as well this time around, but this is a minor complaint considering that this is an action film we're talking about.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Readers will recall that when I took a look at the first release of this disc, which was actually the first out of the series to be released on our beloved format, I found the transfer to be quite mediocre overall. This new Director's Cut is an improvement in most areas, but there is still quite a serious problem with film-to-video artefacts.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The benefit of this widescreen transfer is immediately obvious to the eye during shots such as at 16:46, which is the sort of 2.35:1 shot that Sergio Leone would be proud of.

    The sharpness of this transfer is excellent, such that one could be forgiven for thinking the film was shot twelve months ago, rather than twelve years ago. There is little point in mentioning specific examples, as the entire feature is improved by the extra layer. The shadow detail is also much improved compared to the original release, with the aforementioned shot having much more detail to add to its compositional beauty. There is no low-level noise.

    The colours of Lethal Weapon 2 are slightly brighter than is the case with its predecessor, with richer tones and brighter lighting giving the film a nice and easy look during the more light-hearted sequences. The ugly, dark look that presented itself through almost all of Lethal Weapon reasserts itself during the last quarter of the film, and the transfer captures this without missing a beat. There are no instances of colour bleeding or composite artefacts.

    MPEG artefacts are not an issue in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts, however, are found in abundance during this transfer, so much so that it makes up for the lack of such artefacts in Lethal Weapon. The worst offender in this regard was the headquarters of the South African smugglers, with the windows exhibiting a rather distracting moiré pattern, at 36:48, for example. Car grilles were also another major offender, with scarcely a shot with this item in it going by without showing a lot of distracting shimmer. This was extremely disappointing, given how much smoother and cleaner the picture would have looked without this artefact to screw things up. Film artefacts were found in acceptable amounts, usually consisting of small black and white nicks on the picture.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are much the same as they were on the original Lethal Weapon, being about ninety percent faithful to the actual dialogue.

    This disc makes use of the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place during Chapter 21 at 54:44. This is just after the message on the toilet paper is rolled up, and although it is noticeable, it is probably one of the least disruptive places where it could have been placed.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Accompanying a disappointing video transfer is an audio transfer that I would not mind showing off to friends.

    There are three soundtracks on this disc, all of them encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second. The first, and default, soundtrack is the original English dialogue, with dubs in French and Italian being presented for good measure. I listened to the English dialogue and parts of the Italian dub. I found that the difference in fidelity between these two soundtracks is very minimal, the Italian voices having slightly more prominence in the soundtrack.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time. A couple of words, such as "on foot" at 3:56 were hard to make out, but these words were a bit of a problem in every other format I've listened to the film with, so that's no problem. Aside from that, even the phoney South African accents were quite easy to understand, and there were no discernable problems with audio sync, at least not subjectively.

    The score music in this film is credited to Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen, and David Sanborn. I am not sure why an extra person was added, as the score in this film sounds almost identical to the previous episode. Still, it is very appropriate to the action on the screen, and one can't ask for any more than that. The more sombre moments of the film are still the best ones in terms of musical support, naturally.

    The surround channels are used very aggressively to support the car chases and other such instances of directional sound effects, and it appears that in this case, Warner Home Entertainment have gone right back to the source materials and given the soundtrack a good remix. Split surround effects, usually in the left channel, can be heard at 3:09 and at 36:09, with additional split surround effects coming from both channels all the way through the tow truck chase sequence. There are too many examples of excellent surround usage to name them all here, but suffice it to say that this is where the biggest improvement over the disc containing the theatrical cut of the film can be found.

    The subwoofer was also aggressively utilised to support the action sequences, falling off slightly during the quieter moments when the story is advanced. This is to be expected somewhat with a film of this vintage, however, and is only mildly problematic. When the subwoofer was used, at times such as the toilet explosion at 60:38, the usage was worked seamlessly into the quieter moments around it, making this usage quite inconspicuous in spite of its sudden nature. In a nutshell, this is how a remixed soundtrack for a film that predates Dolby Digital should sound.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu features some well-themed animation and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It is 16x9 Enhanced and easy to navigate.

Cast & Crew Listing

    Well, what else can I say? It's not as if this even counts as an extra.

Featurette - Stunts And Action

   This three minute and forty-four second featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound, and is not 16x9 Enhanced. The video quality is very much improved compared to the transfer of this extra that appears on the original single-layered version of Lethal Weapon 2. It is also worth watching to see how the tow truck sequence was accomplished, and how much is missing from it when it is cut to fit a 4:3 display.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    Once again, Widescreen Review have described this DTS soundtrack as only being of benefit in the lower registers, with tighter bass definition. If this minor gain is enough to make you want to spend the necessary funds to import the Region 1 disc, then one should also be aware that the Region 1 disc suffers what this same site describes as minor pixelization. The only compelling difference I can think of that would justify importing the Region 1 disc would be less aliasing, and anyone who can confirm of deny this is welcome to contact me.

Summary

    Lethal Weapon 2 is a great action film, and a worthy successor to the original, even though it does recycle a tad too much from that episode. The extra footage that has been added to this version enriches it a tad, but the real reason to buy this disc is to see the difference in video quality a second layer can make. It's too bad that it didn't make much more of a difference.

    The video transfer could have been very near to reference quality if not for the aliasing.

    The audio transfer is nearly reference quality.

    The extras are very minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Friday, September 07, 2001
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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