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While everyone may not agree with me, I think that LETHAL WEAPON 3 is a marked improvement over the second installment, thanks to the addition of Rene Russo to the cast of usual suspects. Russo’s solid chemistry with Mel Gibson reenergizes the series, which make her character, internal affairs investigator Lorna Cole, a welcome addition to the film series. Sparks start flying the moment Cole first butts heads with detective Martin Riggs (Gibson), over a case they are both working on. However, the longer they are together, the two come to realize their similarities outweigh their differences. In fact, when it comes to police work, Cole proves to be as gung-ho crazy as Riggs. Of course, Cole hides her mild case of insanity a whole lot better than Riggs.

LETHAL WEAPON 3 opens with Riggs and his partner Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) responding to a call involving a bomb in the parking garage of an office building. Murtaugh wants to do the logical thing and wait for the bomb squad. However, Riggs decides to check out the situation, convinced that the whole thing is nothing more than a hoax. To make a long story short, the ensuing property damage is enough for the department to bust the two detectives back down to patrolmen- exactly what Murtaugh needs when he is only days away from retiring from the force. However, as quickly as you can say "high-speed chase to catch a couple of bank robbers," Riggs and Murtaugh are reinstated to their former rank. Things take a surprising turn for Riggs and Murtaugh, when they discover that the bank robber they have just arrested turns out to be a link to a weapons smuggling ring, which has the full attention of the internal affairs division. While internal affairs claims jurisdiction over the suspect, our heroes are unwilling to let anyone snatch their case away from them.

While the film is action packed, LETHAL WEAPON 3 also plays up the comedy of Murtaugh’s impending retirement, as well as giving Danny Glover some solid character moments, as Murtaugh comes to a crossroads in life. Joe Pesci gets a few laughs as Leo Getz, the single most annoying human being on the face of the planet. Strangely enough Leo is working as Murtaugh’s real estate agent, that is, until he gets pulled in on Riggs and Murtaugh’s case. The cast of LETHAL WEAPON 3 also includes Stuart Wilson, Steve Kahan, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Damon Hines, Ebonie Smith and Mary Ellen Trainor.

Warner Home Video has reissued LETHAL WEAPON 3 on DVD, as a Director’s Cut that includes three minutes of additional footage, not seen in the original theatrical release. LETHAL WEAPON 3 is presented in its proper 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and the DVD features the anamorphic enhancement for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is terrific looking, delivering a sharp, well-defined image. Flesh tones appear quite natural, while the rest of the hues are nicely saturated. Neither chroma noise nor bleeding effected color reproduction in any way. Blacks are deep and true, plus the image boasts solid shadow detail and smooth contrast. LETHAL WEAPON 3 utilizes dual layer authoring to maximize the data rate and minimize all traces of digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is an effective upgrade from standard surround. There is no discernable split surround activity, nor do the rear channels pack much of an action movie wallop, but the surrounds do come into play for occasion sound effects, as well as lending fill to the musical score. The forward soundstage is far better defined, with clear channel separation and a nice full sound. Dialogue is cleanly and intelligibly reproduced, while the bass channel gives everything a nice solid foundation. The score by Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen and David Sanborn is rendered with a warm, musical quality that never sounds harsh or tinny. French surround and English DTS soundtracks have also been encoded onto the DVD. The DTS track is in 5.1 channels and is running at the full format bit rate. Subtitles are available on the DVD in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound have been applied to the interface for the interactive menus. Through the menus, one can access the standard scene selection and set up features, plus a few extras that consist of a trailer, production notes and cast biographies/filmographies.

LETHAL WEAPON 3 is a solid entry in the series, plus Warner’s DVD re-release looks and sounds great. If you love the exploits of police detectives Riggs and Murtaugh, you can’t go wrong in picking up this DVD.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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