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The Lethal Weapon Collection is a five-disc gift set containing all four original theatrical releases in the series ( Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4). Directed by Richard Donner ( Superman, The Goonies) and starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as L.A. detectives Riggs and Murtaugh, the series is one of the most successful in film franchise history.

 Lethal Weapon Collection, The
If you're reading this chances are you've already seen at least one of the Lethal Weapon movies at some point in the 25-years since the first film's release (yes, it has been that long) and have your own opinion of the individual movies and series. Popular opinion is that the first two films, Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2 obviously, are superior action films and that the latter films, Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4, are weaker entries though still decent action films, and I can't say I'd argue with that assessment.

For my money the dark and somber original is one of the most influential American action films of the past 25-years, and depending on my mood on any particular day it flip flops with Die Hard as my favorite action film. Pairing up the counting down the days to retirement Murtaugh with a suicidal cop on the edge in Riggs was a great hook, and their antagonistic relationship and at odds approach to their profession fueled much of the drama and comedy in the picture. More than just the sums of its action set pieces and heroin smuggling plot, Lethal Weapon was a film with real characters with real problems, which resulted in a much more well rounded picture than most other flicks in the genre during the '80s. Lethal Weapon 2 lightens things up considerably and then adds in the now obligatory comic relief character with Joe Pesci's Leo Getz, but it's still a great film that upped the action quotient and featured a tight plot and nasty villains.

Things took a downward slide with the third movie though, and you get the sense that there might be too many chiefs and not enough Indians running the show. At their core Lethal Weapons 3 and 4 are still decent action movies, but much of the focus is lost as new characters are added and the comedic aspects that really started with the second movie get in the way too often. Straying too far from the "playing it safe/loose cannon" partner combination that made the first film and parts of the second so strong really weakens things, and the bland villains and storylines do little to help matters. Still, there are very few film series that stand up as well overall as the Lethal Weapon one does, and all four pictures are easy to recommend to those who haven't yet seen them.

 Lethal Weapon Collection, The
Video
Warner Home Video presents The Lethal Weapon Collection on Blu-ray with 1808p, VC-1 encoded video transfers at each films' respective aspect ratio (the 1.85:1 aspect ratio first film is presented at a slightly opened up 1.78:1 ratio here, while the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio of the three sequels is altered to 2.40:1). One of the selling points of this set is the fact that the first two films have received an upgrade in the video department compared to their earlier Blu-ray releases, and that much is certainly true. Though still not perfect, the detail and contrast of these new transfers are definitely an improvement over the older ones. There's varying levels of grain throughout each, but that's okay since that's the way these films should look, and details can go soft from time to time though much of that has to do with the way in which the films were originally shot. Making their Blu-ray debuts, Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4 both offer better looking transfers overall with each proceeding film looking better than the last, but that's expected seeing as these are the latter movies in the series. None of the films present any glaring problems such as banding, artifacting, edge enhancement or other such defects, and the source prints used for each film are very clean without any noticeable dirt or debris or copious amounts of digital noise reduction causing issues. Overall this is about as good as one could expect the movies to look on Blu-ray and fans of the series should be happy with what's presented, but the real the bottom line is if you have these films on DVD the video upgrade is well worth it.

Audio
All four films in The Lethal Weapon Collection are presented on Blu-ray with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and like the video the quality of the sound design for each film gets better as the series goes on. Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2 both sound relatively the same with not a whole lot of action going on with the surround and LFE channels, though both do have moments when the audio shines. The later two sequels, especially the last film, push the envelope though with plenty of directional effects and heavy bass throughout their explosive action scenes. Across all four films dialogue is crisp and clear from the center channel though, and I didn't detect any problems with the audio that would cause anyone's enjoyment of the movies to be distracted. Overall these are very nice sounding movies on Blu-ray and again fans should be pleased.

 Lethal Weapon Collection, The
Extras
The other big selling point of Warner Home Video's The Lethal Weapon Collection on Blu-ray, and another reason for those who already own the first two films on high definition other than the fact this is currently the only way to get movies 3 & 4, are the extras included with each film--both new and old--and a fifth disc in the set devoted to totally new behind-the-scenes material.

Each film in the set now has an audio commentary with director Richard Donner, and I was really looking forward to sitting down and listening to Donner's take on making the first three films seeing as the only Lethal Weapon movie to get a commentary track up to this point was the last one. His tracks have been a favorite of mine for some time as he's always been overflowing with information, lively and very candid when talking about films such as Superman, The Omen, and The Goonnies--superlative commentary tracks all. Though still worth a listen the newly recorded tracks for Lethal Weapons 1-3 are a bit of a disappointment since it seems as if Donner just wasn't into recording them for whatever reason at the time. There are quite a few stretches of silence throughout each commentary, a lot of unfocused meandering about, and though it's understandable, his fuzzy recollections are often times frustrating when a question by the moderator either isn't answered or glossed over too quickly. On the other hand, Lethal Weapon 4's commentary from 1998 with co-producer J. Mills Goodloe and Geoff Johns is another excellent track featuring the director and one that should definitely be checked out if you haven't already done so while playing the long released DVD.

Along with the newly recorded commentaries, each of the first three films in the series comes with an assortment of standard definition extras including deleted scenes (30-minutes worth for the first film in high definition and about five-minutes each for the second and third films in standard definition) that include footage from the director's cut versions of each, a couple of music videos including "It's Probably Me" by Sting and Eric Clapton, theatrical trailers for each film, and "Stunts and Action", a short EPK feature that aired on Cinemax in 1989 included with the first sequel. Lethal Weapon 4 includes the 30-minute, Danny Glover hosted "Pure Lethal! New Angles, New Scenes and Explosive Outtakes" featurette, made during that film's production and originally airing on HBO which acts as sort of an overview of the entire series and it's theatrical trailer. Overall not bad, but nothing owners of the previous and various DVD incarnations haven't seen before either.
 
Like was stated earlier, disc five of the set features all-new content which is made up of four new, high definition featurettes that have running times of anywhere between 22 and 30-minutes each: "Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon", which features 2010 interview footage with Donner, Gibson and Glover. "A Family Affair: Bringing Lethal Weapon to Life" deals more with the extended creative team responsible for the movies (including Shane Black, stunt co-ordinator Mic Rodgers and cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt), while "Pulling the Trigger: Expanding the World of Lethal Weapon" focuses on the three sequels and again features new interviews with the cast and crew. Bringing up the rear is "Maximum Impact: The Legacy of Lethal Weapon", which looks at the lasting impact the films have had on the action genre.

Taken as a whole, there isn't much that anyone could really ask more of from this set as far as the special features go. If it weren't for the rather lackluster commentaries featured on the first three movies, these extras would have been pretty close to perfect.

 Lethal Weapon Collection, The
Overall
If you're interested in buying The Lethal Weapon Collection on Blu-ray I'd guess there's a very good chance that you already know what you're getting yourself into--two of the best action movies ever to start off with paired with two very entertaining later entries. Warner Home Video's Blu-ray collection of the series presents the films with the best audio and video they've ever received on home video and the included extras are very good with the majority being brand new material. The only real downside to the set is that the superior director's cut of the original film isn't included, but it's a minor complaint. Overall this is an excellent set and a purchase is certainly recommended.

* Note: The above and below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Lethal Weapon Collection, The
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Lethal Weapon Collection, The - Target Practice


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