Lethal Weapon 4 [1998]

In the fourth and reportedly final film of the Lethal Weapon series, director Richard Donner reunites with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, who reprise their roles as Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh for one last hurrah in a film that is decidedly better than the third and first chapters. This time the pair are pitted against Jet Li, who plays the leader of a Chinese organized crime unit. Li, a veteran of hundreds of Hong Kong action films, more than holds his own against the more established team of Gibson, Glover, Renee Russo, and Joe Pesci with his subtle yet strong portrayal of the quietly irrepressible Wah Sing Ku. As always with the Lethal series, the plot is incredibly simple to follow: someone steals something, someone gets killed, and Murtaugh is reluctantly thrown into the mix while Riggs dives into the case with gleeful aplomb. As with the previous movies, we watch for the sheer action and chemistry alone. The action sequences throughout the fourth installment are exquisite, from the opening scene involving a flamethrower, a burning building, and a half-naked Murtaugh strutting like a chicken (don't ask, just watch), to the climactic showdown that pays genuine tribute to Jet Li's masterful martial art skills. As for chemistry, the bond between these characters is so strong by now that you sometimes feel like you're watching a TV series in its sixth season, such is the warm familiarity between the audience and the personalities on the screen. The humor is more fluid than ever, aided immeasurably by the casting of comedian Chris Rock, who like Li does a great job of making his presence known in some memorable verbal tirades that would bring a smile out of the Farrelly brothers. But it's the verbal and emotional jousting between Glover and Gibson that makes this fourth episode especially appealing; both are in peak form with great physical and verbal timing. One can only hope that if this is indeed the last of the Lethal films, that it won't be the last time we see Glover and Gibson together on screen. --Jeremy Storey

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