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Film / Lethal Weapon 4

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Lethal Weapon 4 is an action / buddy cop film and the fourth installment of the Lethal Weapon series. Directed by Richard Donner, it was released in 1998 and stars Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci and Rene Russo once again.

Lorna is pregnant with Riggs' baby and both he and Murtaugh are contemplating the implications of growing older. Meanwhile, Riggs and Murtaugh receive a brash younger detective named Lee Butters (Chris Rock) and are dealing with Chinese Triads when they uncover a boatload of illegal immigrants.

Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li) is the primary enforcer of this group, and Riggs finds himself entirely outmatched in martial skill.

Lethal Weapon 4 provides examples of:

  • Action Insurance Gag: Riggs and Murtaugh get promoted to captain because the LAPD can't afford to insure them as sergeants. They get busted back down the moment the department finds a way to pay the premiums again.
  • Actor Allusion: Kim Chan (Uncle Benny) says, "Bloody marvelous!" a catchphrase often used by his character The Ancient in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. This also wouldn't be the last time he played a crime lord named Uncle Benny.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Leo and Butters' first meeting and them going at each other. By the time Butters snarkily compares Leo to a leprechaun (and Leo explodes in indignation), Riggs is laughing his ass off while Murtaugh's visibly Corpsing.
  • Altar the Speed: Riggs and Cole marry while Cole is giving birth to their child, and simultaneously Rianne is giving birth to Murtaugh's grandchild/Butters' child.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Wah Sing Ku disassembles Riggs' Beretta... while Riggs is holding it and finger on the trigger. This is technically possible with a Beretta due to its design but definitely Awesome, but Impractical, the gun can be seen with the slide disassembly already down (requiring some finesse to pull out and twist, not possible in the middle of a fight) which allows for it to be dismantled in this fashion but would have jammed if Riggs fired.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Riggs' laser trick shooting in the start of the film at the tanker, with the laser sight going being able to ricochet from a surface. Worse yet, the laser is clearly pointing to the winch's upper curve. Assuming the laser is accurate, there's no way Riggs could have even accidentally made that shot.
    • Also in the same scene, barrels of flammable liquid are not ignited by gunfire, and they do not detonate and launch like missiles using the bullet holes as exhaust ports.
  • Attack the Injury: Wah Sing Ku pops Riggs's bad shoulder out of its socket, then jack-hammers his arm with punches, driving Riggs back against a wall and nearly making him pass out.
  • Avenging the Villain: Wah Sing Ku attempts to flee Riggs and Murtaugh with his brother, as all the other Four Fathers have been killed. When Murtaugh shoots Ku's brother while aiming for Ku himself, Ku sticks around and tries to kill Riggs and Murtaugh in revenge. Riggs then shoots Ku underwater after they fall off a pier while fighting.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Sort of. Riggs and Murtaugh face opposite directions and take out their would-be attackers during the final battle.
  • Battle in the Rain: The opening shootout with the human tank occurs while it's raining, and the final fight with Ku takes place in an intense rainstorm on a pier.
  • Bash Brothers: Riggs and Murtaugh embody this trope during the final fight against Ku, who is much younger and faster than them.
  • Big Bad: The Four Fathers, imprisoned Triad bosses using Dragon-in-Chief Wah Sing Ku to get out of prison with counterfeit money.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Riggs and Lorna still have the Rottweiler they rescued in the previous film, along with Riggs' original dog, Sam.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The film is considerably more violent than its predecessors, with its Big Bad getting graphically impaled through the midsection and drowned.
  • Bookends: A Battle in the Rain occurs at the beginning and end of the movie. The final fight in the rain also bookends Riggs' fight with Mr. Joshua in the first film.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted, everyone ends up having to reload, from the flamethrowing psycho at the beginning of the movie (he reloads his assault rifle) to Riggs and Murtaugh at the end of the movie ("Alright, I'm gonna go find us some more ammo!"). Interestingly, Riggs actually does shoot through about three magazines of ammunition in his Beretta in the final battle, and Murtaugh is notably cautious about how many bullets he shoots: police officers generally carry a loaded weapon and two reloads (45 bullets for Riggs, 18 for Murtaugh).
  • Chain Pain: Riggs tries to use one of these against Wah Sing Ku after trying to kill him with a forklift. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: By this movie, Riggs has adopted Murtaugh's "I'm getting too old for this shit" catchphrase, and Murtaugh himself is considering retirement.
  • Character Catchphrase: Ku's "If this was Hong Kong, you'd be dead", which refers to the criminals in his home turf handling unpleasantries more efficiently.
  • Chase Fight: The most insane one yet of the franchise which has Riggs pull a Triad goon into adjacent mobile home being moved along a freeway, both getting knocked out of it with Riggs barely surviving by riding on a upturned table and hanging on for dear life via the plastic wrap that got torn off and barely being able to get back into the car Murtaugh and he were in. Culminating with their car ramping from a freeway, into and through a building and finally back on the road from the other end and almost running into a truck that accidentally takes out their target for good measure.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Little Ping, who saves Riggs, Lorna, and the Murtaughs along with Rianne from a burning house.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Lorna wants to marry Riggs at the hospital, and Leo is tasked to find a priest... then he brings them a rabbi.
    Leo: You said "Anything"...
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Leo's latest rant is about cell phones:
    Leo: They FUCK you with cell phones. That's what it is. They're FUCKIN' you with the cell phone. They love it when you get cut off. Y'know why, huh? You know why? 'Cause when you call back—which they know you're gonna do—they charge you for that FUCKIN' first minute again at that high rate.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: A notable aversion, unlike the third film which played with the trope. Riggs kills a man who was hiding behind some pipes, by using another pipe to deflect the bullet so the hiding guy stands up from the pain of getting shot.
  • Counterfeit Cash: Fake bills are cranked out in order to bribe the brother of a crime boss out of prison.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: The State Department official who accepts a bribe from the Triads to create fake passports for the Four Fathers, and the Chinese general waiting for a larger bribe to free them.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits has pictures of the cast and crew with "Why Can't We Be Friends" playing in the background, mostly because everyone knew this would be the last in the series and they wanted to celebrate it.
  • Curse Cut Short: Leo gets cut off from a second trip to the Cluster F-Bomb trough by Murtaugh and Riggs when he struggles with an instant camera vending machine when trying to get a picture of the combined Murtaugh and Riggs clans after the births of Lorna and Rianne's children.
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Riggs climbs up ropes onto a smugglers' ship with his pistol held between his teeth.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: The car chase scene between the ’98 Pontiac Grand Am and a Mercedes Benz 420 SEL (with the former being driven by Roger and the latter by a criminal) ends with the Pontiac being partially damaged by crashing through an office and suffering some damage by a truck. That same truck ends up ramming the Mercedes Benz.
  • Dies Wide Open: Murtaugh discovers Hong's corpse this way.
  • Dirty Cop: Played for Laughs and Averted. Lorna says Internal Affairs got an anonymous tip that Murtaugh was on the take, though it is clear they don't take it seriously. Riggs doesn't either, but then he notices that Murtaugh has an unusual amount of money eventually he confronts him about it, asking how he can support his family, get his kids though college, rebuild his house, wear very dapper suits and buy a fishing boat on a Sergeant's salary. Murtaugh is reticient, and this drives a wedge between them. It turns out that his wife has written several Mills and Boon Prose-heavy Romance Novels (Riggs describes them as "the cheesy sex novels") that sell extremely well, and he's been embarrassed about where the money comes from.
  • Disarm, Disassemble, Destroy: Ku dismantles Riggs' Beretta to end the Mexican Standoff between them in a scene that establishes him as a serious badass.
  • Doctor, Doctor, Doctor: Riggs and Murtaugh get promoted to captain unexpectedly. They respond by calling their usual captain, each other, and even themselves "Captain" incessantly.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Wah Sing Ku does not seem to fear guns and in one scene dodges a bullet fired at him in the back unawares.
  • Dog Food Diet: Riggs is sitting with Lorna and their dog. Lorna goes "Here boy!" and tosses a biscuit which Riggs chomps out of mid-air like a dog.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Wah Sing Ku is technically working to free his bosses, one of whom is his older brother. But since they are all in prison he's the one who actually drives the plot.
  • Dramatic Thunder: In the final fight with Wah Sing Ku.
  • Easily Forgiven: After Riggs' Jerkass Realization about how badly he and Roger have treated Leo over the last decade, he apologizes. Leo calmly and easily forgives his friend.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: A car driven by some Triad Mooks try and ram Riggs' car into the path of an oncoming train. By cleverly pulling ahead, Riggs leaves them on the tracks instead, and their car is hit by the train, blowing up from the impact. Then the burned out wreck lands on the parallel tracks and get hits by another train going the opposite direction, causing it to blow up again.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The cops deliberately trigger this by revealing to a faction of corrupt Chinese soldiers that their Triad business partners are trying to rip them off. Riggs takes an awfully sensible view of the subsequent shoot-out:
    Riggs: Keep your head down, Rog! Let them kill each other!
  • Family of Choice: Built upon from the previous installments, with Leo now included as well. It ends with all of them taking a photo together after Lorna and Rianne both giving birth.
  • Feeling Their Age: Riggs admits that he, too, is now getting too old for this shit.
  • Finale Credits: The end credits show a photo album of pictures of scenes from all four movies, as well as behind-the-scenes pictures, culminating in a shot of the entire cast and crew.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The armored assailant in the Action Prologue uses a flamethrower along with an Uzi.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: The opening scene has Riggs do this to a flamethrower-toting bad guy, shooting a vent on the guy's equipment which sends him to an explosive death.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: Played for laughs during a foot chase. Murtaugh, unable to keep up with Riggs and their fleeing target, goes over to a guy with a bicycle, flashes his badge, and tries to commandeer the bike. The guy refuses to let go of the bike, and Murtaugh, having no time to waste, grabs a wad of 20-dollar bills from his pocket, shoves them into the guy's hand, then rides off. As soon as Murtaugh leaves the guy who was standing by the bike pockets the cash and calls out to an offscreen friend "Hey Johnny, somebody stole your bike!"
  • Forklift Fu: Riggs tries to attack Jet Li's character Wah Sing Ku with a forklift. Wah Sing Ku still beats the crap out of him.
  • Fridge Brilliance: One instance actually happens in-universe, and is not trivia. Note the quotation below is also Casual Danger Dialogue.
    Roger Murtaugh: You ever hear of Ebony Clarke?!
    Martin Riggs: Yeah, she writes those cheesy sex novels! Why? You boinkin' her?
    Roger Murtaugh: No, I'm not boinkin' her! Trish is Ebony Clarke.
    Martin Riggs: Trish is Ebony Clarke!? ...So you are boinkin' her!
    Roger Murtaugh: [realization followed by a big grin] Yeah...! Yeah, I'm boinkin' her!
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Opens with Riggs and Murtaugh having to stop an unnamed armored maniac from burning and shooting everything up. No reason is given for his behaviour, but it sure provides an exciting Action Prologue.
  • Genre Blindness: Played for laughs with the embarrassing newspaper photo of Roger in his underwear. Even after a decade of working together — and knowing Riggs' puckish sense of humor all too well — it genuinely never occurs to Murtuagh that his partner's the one who keeps putting up copies of the article all around the LAPD.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Riggs and Murtaugh get information out of gangster Uncle Benny by dropping in during a dental appointment and turning up the nitrous oxide (Laughing Gas). Unfortunately, the valve breaks, and they all end up getting high with him.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Wah Sing Ku uses his polished wushu style to badly brutalize both Riggs and Murtaugh until they ultimately defeat him with their less flashy fighting styles and ultimately a Kalashnikov automatic rifle. Riggs was portrayed as an elite martial artist in the first film's more realistic fight scenes, but by the fourth movie he too was "getting too old for this shit."
  • Goofy Print Underwear: When Murtaugh is directed by Riggs to strip to his boxer shorts to distract a madman wielding a flamethrower, Riggs asks with a laugh "Are those little hearts?"
  • Group Picture Ending: The movie ends with the main cast getting a picture taken to celebrate the birth of Lorna's baby. The credits showcase a 'scrap book' of pictures with the whole cast and crew, either in groups or taken during production (to the tune of "Why Can't We Be Friends?"). It also solidifies the movie as the Grand Finale of the Lethal Weapon series.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: No, a Laser Sight can not allow you to perfectly chart a ricocheting bullet's path. It can't reflect its beam off a rusted pipe, either. Suffice to say the Artistic License on firearms was rather heavily invoked throughout the entire series.
  • Guns Firing Underwater: Martin Riggs kills Wah Sing Ku by shooting him point blank with an assault rifle after throwing him into the water.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Riggs has shorter hair in this movie.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The flamethrower and machinegun wielding lunatic at the start wears heavy metal armour that makes him impervious to bullets.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Played for humor when, during a pursuit of two suspects, Murtagh sees a young man standing by a bike in the street. He tries to commandeer it, but when the guy starts protesting, Murtagh instead reaches into a pocket and brings out a handful of $20 bills and thrusts it at the guy. The guy pockets the money, then smiles and calls out to an offscreen friend "Hey Johnny, someone stole your bike!"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A more comedic example would be when Riggs wants to ask the police psychiatrist for legitimate advice regarding his intent to marry Lorna, but his years of mocking her makes her instantly go on the defensive and assume he's trying to punk her again. So he then turns around and punks her for real.
  • Honor Before Reason: In the climax of the film, Riggs and Murtaugh have successfully thwarted the bad guys' plans. But they killed Ku's brother, leaving him seriously pissed. They had more than enough time to make their exit and stay away from Ku's wrath and even begin to walk the other way, talking about coming back with a howitzer or something like it. But then Riggs starts musing about Ku's crazy gun dismantling trick he pulled earlier in the film and they realize they have to face him to end it.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Brutally deconstructed. Murtaugh tries to kill Wah Sing Ku with his head-cocked shooting. Ku is able to dodge, but the bullet hits and kills his brother behind him.
  • Insane Troll Logic: When Riggs and Murtaugh are looking for the Triad thugs who just tried to kill them, they ask a chopper to look for the car they took off in. A black Mercedes on a certain part of the freeway. The chopper says they've got two cars that match that description, one heading east, one heading west. Riggs, who's driving, says they're following the one heading East.
    Murtaugh: How do you know we're chasing the right one?
    Riggs: I don't know, but we're going east, and China's east, so...
    Murtaugh: Yeah, but China's west too, Riggs.
    Riggs: Well, we can't divide.
  • Invincible Villain: Wah Sing Ku is easily the most dangerous and hardest to bring down villain in the entire series, and perhaps the most badass character in it. He is a Lightning Bruiser who can beat the tar out of you with his kung fu, strangle you to death in a second with one hand, take apart your gun in a flash while you are holding it, and at one point literally dodges a bullet. It takes Riggs and Murtaugh working together to finally bring him down and they only win because he is blinded by rage and they have to fight dirty. Even then, they both end up with broken bones and nearly killed themselves, being visibly older and in nowhere near as good a physical shape as him doesn't help.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Riggs taunts Uncle Benny with it, and he responds with an adeguate Insult Backfire.
    Uncle Benny: Have something to eat, give you the Police Discount.
    Riggs: Flied lice?
    Uncle Benny: "Flied lice"?! It is fried rice, you PLICK.
  • Jerkass Realization: Leo's Froggie monologue causes Riggs to realize just how sad and lonely Leo really is — not unlike himself back in the first film. This then makes Riggs realize that he and Roger have been terrible friends in the decade they've known Leo and to apologize.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Riggs and Murtaugh are both promoted to Captain in the hopes that giving them desk jobs will cut down on the destruction they cause in the city. It doesn't work, and they're busted back to Sergeant by the end of the movie.
  • Laser Sight: Riggs adds a laser sight to his gun despite his already Improbable Aiming Skills. Early in the film he uses it to accurately plot a ricochet —off a rusted pipe!— and take out a mook who's taken cover. Later he uses it to intimidate Jet Li and force his gang to stand down.
  • Laughing Gas: The guys ambush one of the Triad bosses at his dentist appointment and interrogate him using nitrous as a makeshift Truth Serum. Pretty soon everyone's high on the stuff, giggling like idiots and getting a little too chatty with each other.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Played for Laughs on Murtaugh, regarding the identity of Rianne's husband, which even Riggs knows.
  • Made from Real Girl Scouts: A non-cannibalistic version appears after Riggs goes up against a Chinese mobster:
    Riggs: Had some bad Chinese, really disagreed with me.
  • Made of Iron: Wah Sing Ku, who gets impaled with a rebar and still continues fighting. In fact, it took a full burst from an AK-47 to the torso while he was underwater to finally take him down.
  • Man on Fire: A nonmilitary flamethrower example occurs in the opening scene of the movie, when a mook becomes a victim of Flamethrower Backfire.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The final shootout is between the police, the Triads, and the Chinese military.
  • Mills and Boon Prose: Ebony Clarke's writing is this all the way, but it apparently sells very well.
    Riggs: (reading)... "and the peaks of her pleasure rivalled those of the Himalayas"... have I ever made your pleasure rival the peaks of the Himalayas?
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A ship full of smuggled Chinese immigrants → A plot to sneak four Chinese Triad bosses into the country.
  • Miranda Rights: Played with:
    Butters: You have the right to remain silent, so shut the fuck up, okay? You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, we'll provide you with the dumbest fucking lawyer on Earth! If you get Johnny Cochran, I'll kill you!
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Riggs gets suspicious about Murtagh because his large expenses like on house remodeling seem impractical on a cop's salary. He eventually confronts Murtagh about it — in the middle of a firefight — where Murtagh is initially evasive about where the money's coming from before he eventually relents and asks if Riggs knows Ebony Clark, who writes what Riggs calls "cheesy sex novels".
    Riggs: Wait, are you boinking her?
    Murtagh: What, no! Trishnote  is Ebony Clark!
    Riggs: Oh! [thinks for a moment] You are boinking her!
    Murtagh: ...Yeah, I guess I am!
  • Mistaken for Gay: Butters was trying to be nice to his father-in-law. He instead thought that he had the hots for him.
  • Mushroom Samba: Riggs, Murtaugh and Detective Butters are trying to get a Chinese mob boss to talk, so they sneak in on him while he's at the dentist and give him a snort of nitrous oxide. Unfortunately Butters leaves the inhaler on, so everyone in the room gets a little loopy, leading to the reveal that Butters has gotten Murtaugh's daughter pregnant.
  • "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño": When Riggs, Murtaugh, and Butters seek to question Uncle Benny at a dentist's office, they give him a dose of laughing gas to make him more complacent, except they give him too much gas, making him way too aloof and carefree to be very helpful. His one clue as to the location of the Hongs is "Renminbi". When asked what that means, Uncle Benny explains, "'Renminbi' means... 'Renminbi'." note 
  • Oh, Crap!: Done by Wah Sing Ku before he gets shot to death underwater.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Wah Sing Ku is younger than both Riggs and Murtaugh and very skilled in a deadly form of martial arts.
  • Outranking Your Job: Riggs and Murtaugh both get promoted to captain, but the promotions seem to carry no real weight. Neither is assigned any subordinates or additional responsibilities, and aside from Riggs occasionally announcing, "This is your Captain speaking!" to colleagues, both continue to chase criminals as if they were sergeants — though the whole point of promoting them was to get them out of the field.
  • Photo Montage: The end credits, showing first the life of the characters after the end of the movie and then, when the credits start mentioning the crew, pictures of said crew.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Wah Sing Ku and his Mooks force Riggs and Murtaugh to stand down in a Mexican Standoff by dropping their guns, but taking Lorna and Rianne and holding them (and their pregnant bellies) at knifepoint.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: A hitman is shown taking out a target's car by ramming them into the path of an oncoming train with his larger SUV. Later, he tries the same trick on Riggs who pushes back using reverse in his similarly sized car, and then suddenly releases shifts back into forward gear in time for the hitman to be the one hit by the train.
  • Rasputinian Death: It takes nothing short of a rebar through the midsection, being dropped underwater and a volley from an AK-47 to finally kill Wah Sing Ku.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Wah Sing Ku and the Triads. Lampshaded when Wah Sing Ku actually complains that back in Hong Kong, everyone who crossed them or failed them would be dead, but he has to show more (relative) restraint in America.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    Wah Sing Ku: Brother, America has many laws, but written by men. Money can change everything.
  • Shave And A Haircut: Riggs honks this on his car horn upon disrupting the meeting between Wah Sing Ku and the General.
  • Shoot the Builder: The Triads counterfeit millions in Chinese currency to buy the release of their imprisoned leaders and murder the printer (who almost backs out of the job until they kill the eldest member of his family and then threaten the others) once the job is done. It's unclear whether they intended to kill him from the start or only did so due to the pressure of the police investigation or out of anger at his earlier resistance.
  • Shout-Out: One of Riggs' and Murtaugh's co-workers, who runs into them after their promotions, refers to them as "Captains Outrageous".
  • Skip to the End: Riggs' wedding is sped up due to the bride going into labor. And done by a rabbi, because that's the only clerical person Leo Getz could find. It's explicitly not a real wedding, just something she asked to be thrown together since she wanted to say the words before giving birth.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Human Tank in the prologue. His rampage indirectly reveals Lorna and Rianne's pregnancies to the audience and Riggs and Murtaugh. More, it's implied this incident (and the property destruction Riggs and Murtaugh caused bringing him down) was the last straw for the LAPD's insurance carrier — which is what leads to Riggs and Murtaugh getting Kicked Upstairs in a vain attempt to prevent any more damage.
  • Starter Villain: The nameless flamethrower-toting man rocking out to Gary Cherone-era Van Halen who Riggs and Murtaugh confront in the prologue.
  • Super-Speed: They had to get Jet Li to slow his fight scenes down because he was too fast for the actors to react to and the camera to catch on film.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Hero Insurance is not part of the package when you join the police service, so Riggs and Murtaugh are Kicked Upstairs in a (vain) attempt to stop them engaging in destructive car chases and causing explosions while they are saving the day. Since it doesn't work, they get demoted back to Sergeants at the end of the movie. Conversely, Murtaugh is deeply hurt at the accusations of corruption and it takes most of the film for Riggs and Murtaugh to start talking to each other again. Some things can't be said, no matter how close you are.
  • Survival Mantra: "We're not too old for this shit... we're not too old for this shit..."
  • Suspicious Spending: Murtaugh is suspected of this. It is mentioned offhand that Internal Affairs got an anonymous tip that he is taking bribes, an accusation nobody takes seriously. But then Riggs notices him casually handing out large sums of money to his kids and Roger gets evasive when asked about it, not to mention his nice suits, nice boat, nice house (which he could also afford to remodel twice throughout the series after it was destroyed by various criminals), etc. Riggs eventually gets around to grilling him about how he can do all this is so on a cop's salary. It turns out the money is coming mostly from Murtaugh's wife, who is secretly a very successful (if cheesy) romance novelist writing under a Pen Name. Murtaugh wouldn't admit it because his friends would never let him live it down.
  • Take That!: The film contains some shockingly unsubtle jabs at the expense of the National Rifle Association. This is a series that elevated dangerous and irresponsible gunplay to an art form and generally gives the middle finger to gun safety.
  • Taking the Bullet: Butters does this in the final battle when a Chinese soldier is about to shoot Murtaugh from behind. Unlike most examples, it's not fatal.
  • Taught by Experience: Played for laughs and dramatic irony with Stephanie Woods when Riggs asks her for legitimate advice about marrying Lorna. After 11 years of clashing with the eponymous Lethal Weapon, Woods (wrongly) believes Riggs is just trying to wind her up and punk her as usual.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Lee Butters says to Leo Getz: "Look at this badge, bitch!"
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Played for laughs when Murphy promotes Riggs and Murtaugh to Captain. He knows this isn't going to end well and outright says this is one of the most painful fucking experiences of his life.
    • Riggs and Murtaugh's talk of facing down Ku in the climax of the film smacks of this. While they joke around a bit, they know full well he outclasses them in skill and is younger to boot. But also know since they (inadvertently) killed his brother, he'll come after them regardless and, after nearly being burned alive earlier with their loved ones, they can't risk their families lives again. So it's either them or him.
  • Threatening Shark: Leo catches a small shark (alive) while out fishing with the heroes. When their boat sinks, the shark escapes; rather than booking it for the horizon, as any sensible animal would do, its fin is shown lingering near the swimming characters to add menace to the scene.
  • Time Skip: After the prologue, the film jumps ahead most of a year.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Downplayed, but after Riggs' Jerkass Realization about how badly he and Roger have treated Leo, he's much kinder towards Leo in their final scenes together.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Murtaugh finds the watch he gave to the elderly Asian immigrant he befriended...
  • Trash the Set: Murtaugh's boat gets blown up during the fight on the smuggling freighter, and his family's house gets burned down by the Triads.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The main villains of this movie. Their leader, Wah Sing Ku (played by Jet Li in one of his only villain roles), seeks to free the real founders of the Triads, the Four Fathers, with the use of Counterfeit Cash.
  • Uncle Tom Foolery: Averted, as Lee saddled to two heroes, one of whom is black and plays a middle role of being neither insane nor too by-the-book.
  • The Unreveal: It's never revealed who called in the anonymous tip to IA accusing Murtaugh of being a Dirty Cop.
  • Video Credits: All the actors are shown alongside stills of themselves in the movie, going with the photo album nature of the Creative Closing Credits.
  • Villainous Valour: Only Wah Sing Ku is able to disassemble a Beretta in 5 seconds with his own bare hands and then knock out Riggs and Murtaugh who are older and taller than him. In the final showdown he once again manages to handle them even if they are two vs one.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Butters' Establishing Character Moment shows that while he accepts the idea of lowlifes or even fellow cops getting killed (as he describes it, "occupational hazard"), he gets pretty upset at a normal civilian being the victim of a murder. Riggs and Murtaugh even have to tell him to calm down. In retrospect, he was probably exaggerating a bit to look good in front of Murtaugh, that is, morally good enough to be married to his daughter.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The third Four Father must have somehow disappeared when the other two Four Fathers were being shot by the General before the final shootout and when Ku and his brother fled.
    • Also, Ng and his partner aren't seen anywhere after the shootout commences and when Murtaugh tells Ng to look after Butters.
  • The Worf Effect: Done interestingly. Riggs realizes his age when the freighter captain handily kicked his ass. But Ku ends up dispatching the captain with embarrassingly little effort, proving that he will be quite an enemy to beat.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Played for laughs with Stephanie Woods when Riggs asks her for legitimate advice about marrying Lorna. She's so convinced Riggs is just winding her up and punking her as usual that she never considers the possibility — however remote and unlikely — that he might actually be sincere.
  • You Have Failed Me: Wah Sing Ku does this both to the freighter captain for losing the Hong family (as well as the entire shipment of Chinese), as well as Uncle Benny for generally disappointing him.


Video Example(s):


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