Lethal Weapon 3-Director's Cut (1992)

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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
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 116:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:47) 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
Rene Russo
Stuart Wilson
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
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
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes, a funny joke at the end of the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Lethal Weapon 3 is the least of the Lethal Weapon trilogy (no, episode four doesn't count as far as I am concerned). Part of the blame for this can be placed upon the lack of spontaneity in the humour, but most of it falls fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the head villain. Indeed, some jokers who saw the film early told me that there would have been more suspense in a geriatric version of Riggs and Murtaugh hitting one another over the heads with walking frames. It's not that the script is bad, or that the central premise is lacking anything other than a restraint of director Richard Donner's propensity to beat us over the head with a political message, it's just that the Martin Riggs of the previous two films would have chewed up Jack Travis and spat out the pips.

    The film begins with Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) visiting an office building where one of the workers claims he found a bomb sitting on the back seat of a car. Roger has eight days to go until he retires, and doesn't want anything to do with bombs, but Martin wants to go in and have a look, confident in the presumed knowledge that there's no bomb in the building. Unfortunately, it turns out that Roger was right, and the whole escapade ends with the building exploding, although they do manage to save the little cat they found in there. With a week to go until retirement, Roger and Martin are busted down to lowly patrolmen, and they somehow manage to interrupt an armoured car robbery once they get done terrorising a local pedestrian. This is when Internal Affairs officer Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) enters the picture, and the thief that they managed to capture from the robbery, Billy Phelps (Mark Pellegrino) is shot and killed while waiting in the interrogation room.

    Naturally, the assassin didn't know that there was a camera in the interrogation room, but then again, neither did Captain Ed Murphy (Steve Kahan) or any other policeman bar those connected with Internal Affairs. What the tape from the interrogation room reveals is that Billy was killed by a former Lieutenant who goes by the name of Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson), who, according to Captain Ed, is as tough as they come. I think the poor, overworked Captain must have been hitting the sauce a little too hard at the time, since the fight between Riggs and Travis at the end is a complete mismatch. Anyway, Travis' big scheme revolves around stealing munitions and weaponry from the LAPD's storage unit and selling them back to the thugs on the street before said weapons can be destroyed. One person who winds up buying one of these automatic weapons with armour-piercing bullets is Darryl (Bobby Wynn), who just happens to be one of Nick Murtaugh's friends from high school. I think this shift in focus from Rianne Murtaugh (Traci Wolfe) to Nick Murtaugh (Damon Hines) is one of the film's stronger points, as the first two films really developed Rianne as far as she could go. Nick, on the other hand, is still a very interesting character, and the interactions between Nick and Roger bring back some of the character growth that was missing from Lethal Weapon 2.

    The addition of this many new characters to the Lethal Weapon cast ultimately bogs down the proceedings, especially in light of the fact that Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) is still around, and still very annoying. While Traci Wolfe and Damon Hines barely had two dozen lines between them in the previous episode, one gets the feeling that the former's involvement in the picture could have been cut down to nothing without anything being lost in the narrative. Other characters from the past two episodes are under-utilised, and the gun control message here is painfully lopsided in the use of Darryl and his parents (Sylvia Webb White and Danny 'Big Black' Rey) as mere pawns. Still, if you shut these faults of the film out and just concentrate on enjoying the action, then this film might just squeak by. With the extra footage that has been restored, including a piece of footage with Sam in it at 63:55, this is the best possible cut of the film one can really ask for.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Lethal Weapon 3 has a slightly better transfer than the previous episode, but it isn't quite as good as the original episode. If you have an eighty centimeter or larger display that isn't capable of accepting a progressive signal, then you might find this transfer to be on the slightly objectionable side. Like Lethal Weapon 2, it's a constant trade-off: at what point does a lack of sharpness in the image become more objectionable than the shimmering?

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

    The transfer is very sharp, and it is the best transfer of a Lethal Weapon disc in this regard. Unfortunately, this is also where a lot of the problems with aliasing come from, but I find this preferable to the hazy, blurred transfers that the middle two episodes in the franchise originally suffered. The shadow detail is also quite an improvement compared to the original DVD that was released early on, with more discernable details in wide shots to make them seem that little bit more sumptuous. There is no low-level noise in the picture.

    The colours in this movie vary somewhat, with the action scenes having that dark, muted style of the original Lethal Weapon, while other moments that could have done with the sombre arrangements, such as the shooting, have a brighter, warmer arrangement. Regardless of how suitable these arrangements are for the scenes, the transfer captures them all without a hiccup.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer at all, with an average bitrate of seven and a half per second, as opposed to the original single-layer disc's three or four, keeping the MPEG nasties at bay. Film-to-video artefacts are the only disappointing aspect of this transfer, with anything that can show aliasing, power cables being the best example, showing it in copious amounts. The worst example, at least in my view, comes at 47:39, in a window within the Murtaugh family home just after the shooting. The aliasing was more tolerable than in Lethal Weapon 2, although the frequency is at a similar level. Film artefacts were minimal at the worst of times, with just a few minor black marks making their way into the picture from time to time.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on this disc are only about seventy percent accurate to the dialogue, with the all-important structure that makes the more subtle jokes funny being almost entirely lost. For example, at 7:19, "Right, oops" becomes "Right, whoops", and this is the least annoying example in the introduction.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, and once again, the difference this makes to the picture quality is phenomenal. The layer change takes place nearly a minute into Chapter 16 at 59:47. This is just after Mel Gibson taps a few random keys on Rene Russo's keyboard, and it is somewhat noticeable. It would have been a little better at the beginning of the Chapter, but probably just as noticeable, anyway.



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

Audio

    Even if the video transfer isn't what I would use to demonstrate my system to family or friends, the audio transfer is.

    We have a choice of three soundtracks, all of them 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 rounding out the list. I listened primarily to the English dialogue, and listened to a couple of passages in Italian for curiosity's sake.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at almost all times, with maybe a couple of words being mumbled in such a way that makes understanding them a tad more difficult. I found little to complain about in this soundtrack, however, so I'm not going to take off points for just a couple of mumbled words. There were no discernable problems with audio sync.

    The music in this film is the work of Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen, and David Sanborn. It is fundamentally identical to the score music of the previous two episodes, although it still matches and enhances the on-screen action very well. Some contemporary numbers make an appearance, but these are forgettable to the point that even fans of the artists responsible will have trouble remembering them.

    The surround channels are aggressively utilised to support the action sequences and the music, creating a nice, immersive sound field that immerses the viewer in the action. It is not quite as immersive as the action sequences in the previous two episodes, but the sound field is a little more consistent here. When the bomb goes off at 6:06, both the surrounds and the subwoofer burst into life to give it the sort of oomph that the VHS format cannot.

    The subwoofer was aggressively utilised to support the music, cars, and action sequences, with the shoot-out sequence at 87:19 and the moment where the two armoured cars crash together at 10:47 being given a powerful floor that adds to the aggression of the soundtrack without making itself conspicuous. It was very well integrated into the overall sound field.



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

Extras

Menu

    Another well-themed, animated menu with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and 16x9 Enhancement.

Cast & Crew Listing

    It's not even a cursory filmography, or even an extra in my view.

R4 vs R1

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

    Again, the Region 4 version of the disc misses out on a DTS soundtrack. Again, reliable sources describe the gain in fidelity as being minimal with some minor pixelization being introduced in the video transfer, so unless you are a fanatic about DTS, the superlative transfer of Region 4's disc makes it the version of choice.

Summary

    Mel Gibson and Danny Glover give it their best, but an overcrowded cast and a weak villain makes Lethal Weapon 3 hard to recommend to anyone but completists. While episode three is by no means the weakest of the Lethal Weapon series, episode four has such a weak script that, in spite of an excellent villain, it is often not counted as part of the canon at all. Still, if the idea of Mel Gibson eating dog biscuits and comparing battle scars with Rene Russo is enough to satisfy your requirements for an evening's viewing, then Lethal Weapon 3 is worth checking out, especially given the difference that the three extra minutes of footage makes.

    The video transfer is excellent, although some noticeable aliasing artefacts deny it reference status.

    The audio transfer is a reference example of how to remix a (nearly) decade-old film.

    The extras are virtually non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Saturday, September 08, 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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