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Lethal Weapon (1987)

The first and best Lethal Weapon, this was Mad Mel’s Hollywood breakthrough and the start of his enduring collaboration with Richard Donner in this hard-edged franchise-spawning action thriller.

Mel Gibson is Martin Riggs – a reckless, suicidal cop (traumatised by the death of his wife) – and Danny Glover is Roger Murtaugh – his cautious black partner, a happily married family man.

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Both are Vietnam veterans and the case they’re working on one Los Angeles Christmas turns out to be a legacy of that nightmarish war on the home front.

Investigating the murder of a teenage cocaine addict, the pair uncovers a vicious gang of ex-soldiers commanded by a former general, continuing in peacetime the same kind of ruthless business they conducted as CIA commandos in Southeast Asia – drug trafficking.

There’s more hideous violence than usual, and the mayhem is non-stop – Lethal Weapon is excessive and implausible, but never boring.

The final battle between drug lord and murderer Mr Joshua (Gary Busey with a fierce bleach job) and Riggs is a classic. Both actors did their own stunts and took up martial arts to make this a superb fighting scene.

Lethal Weapon 2 was released two years later.

Martin Riggs
Mel Gibson
Roger Murtaugh
Danny Glover
Michael Hunsaker
Tom Atkins
The General
Mitchell Ryan
Joshua
Gary Busey
Trish Murtaugh
Darlene Love
Rianne Murtaugh
Traci Wolfe
Amanda Hunsaker
Jackie Swanson
Nick Murtaugh
Damon Hines
Carrie Murtaugh
Ebonie Smith

Director
Richard Donner