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Lethal Weapon 2 is a 1989 action comedy film directed by Richard Donner, and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Derrick O'Connor and Joss Ackland. It is the first sequel to the 1987 film Lethal Weapon, and it is part of the Lethal Weapon film series. Gibson and Glover respectively reprise their roles as LAPD officers Martin Riggs (Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Glover), who this time have to protect an irritating federal witness (Pesci), while taking on a gang of South African drug dealers, who are hiding behind diplomatic immunity.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

Plot

The story opens with LAPD Sergeants Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh engaged in a car chase with a red BMW E24. After it crashes, they move in to arrest the driver, but find he has escaped. Searching the car, they discover the trunk is full of South African Krugerrands (gold coins which were illegal in the U.S. due to sanctions against the South African apartheid regime). Later that night, Murtaugh is threatened at his home by thugs dressed in black hoods, warning him to cease the investigation around the Krugerrands.

In the wake of the attack on Murtaugh, he and Riggs are reassigned to a less dangerous task, protecting a Federal witness, Leo Getz (Joe Pesci). Mere moments after arriving at Getz's hotel room, an assassin posing as room service, enters the room, and tries to kill Getz. Riggs and Murtaugh subsequently discover Getz has been laundering funds for the same drug smugglers and he leads them to their base of operations, a house on stilts. Riggs recognizes one of the men in the house as the assassin from the hotel. The assassin tries to make an escape by stealing a tow-truck parked outside the house. Riggs jumps onto the back of the tow truck, and Murtaugh and Getz chase after Riggs and the suspect. Later that day, Riggs and Murtaugh return to the house on stilts with full backup of detectives and uniform officers. Attempting to arrest the gang, Riggs and Murtaugh are confronted by Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland), the minister of affairs for the South African Consulate. Rudd indignantly invokes diplomatic immunity on behalf of himself and his 'staff,' and threatens to report Riggs and Murtaugh to the State Departmentmarker for violating South African soil.

Although ordered by the Department to leave Rudd and his associates alone, Riggs and Murtaugh are certain that he is the drug trafficker they are looking for and commence a private war against them. While Leo and Murtaugh distract the guards at the consulate, Riggs infiltrates the building and catches the name "Alba Varden," a name that appears familiar somehow to Murtaugh. At the same time, Riggs begins a romance with Rudd's secretary, Rika van den Haas (Patsy Kensit), who strongly dislikes both her boss and her country's policies. Riggs invites her to a dinner at his trailer, which ends in a sexual encounter.

Meanwhile, Rudd has decided to deal with his police problems once and for all. He orders Pieter Vorstedt (Derrick O'Connor), his chief enforcer, to begin a campaign of violence against the LAPD. As a result many of Riggs' and Murtaugh's fellow officers (who all participated in the raid on the stilt house) are brutally murdered.

While guarding Getz, Murtaugh views an old family video and finally remembers that Alba Varden is the name of a South African ship currently at the docks. He suddenly realizes that Rudd is planning to use the ship to smuggle his billions in drug money to Cape Townmarker. However, he is attacked by two of Vorstedt's men but managing to thwart them with a nail gun. At the same time, Leo is kidnapped while sitting unguarded in Murtaugh's car. While in bed with Rika, Riggs is warned by his barking dog of an impending attack by Rudd's men in two AĆ©rospatiale 350B AStar helicopters. Riggs manages to escape, after counter-attacking, using the machine gun of one of the attackers. However, when he returns Rika to her house, he is knocked out and captured by Vorstedt.

As Vorstedt prepares to drop the trussed up Riggs into Los Angeles harbor, he taunts him about the death of his wife. Vorstedt reveals that Riggs, then a narcotics officer in Long Beach, Californiamarker, had been costing the gang too much money. Therefore, Rudd had ordered Vorstedt to run Riggs' car off the road, but he inadvertently killed Mrs. Riggs instead. Coldly mocking his bad luck with women, Vorstedt drops the now enraged Riggs off the docks in a straightjacket and leaves him to drown. However, Riggs quickly escapes the straightjacket by dislocating his shoulder, but finds Rika nearby, drowned. Although Vorstedt has already left, Riggs brutally beats the other two South Africans to death. Seething with hatred, he calls Murtaugh and announces, "I'm not a cop tonight. It's personal." Leaving his own badge at the station, Murtaugh leaves to help him kill Vorstedt and Rudd.

Meeting at the South African Consulate, Murtaugh heads inside to rescue Leo. Meanwhile, Riggs uses his truck to dislocate the stilts, causing the house to collapse just as Getz and Murtaugh escape. After sending Getz back to the precinct, Murtaugh and Riggs go to the dock where "Alba Varden" is moored. They enter a cargo container that is sitting on the dock, to discover it is filled with millions of Arjen Rudd's and Pieter Vorstedt's drug money. But their presence is discovered and the cargo container is sealed, and lifted with a crane, with the intent for them to suffocate. However, they use a Mercedes within the container to bust their way out, causing all the money to blow out of the container into the Los Angeles bay. Riggs and Murtaugh rappel down ropes onto the deck of the Alba Varden where they have a final confrontation with Rudd and Vorstedt.

Eventually, Vorstedt and Riggs engage in a brutal hand-to-hand showdown. Riggs eventually stabs Vorstedt with his own knife and leaves him for dead. However, Vorstedt pulls out a gun and aims it at Riggs' back. In the nick of time, Riggs completes his revenge by pressing a button and dropping a cargo container on Vorstedt. Suddenly, Rudd appears behind Riggs and shoots him with a Mauser C96. Outraged, Murtaugh draws his gun and attempts to arrest the diplomat. Rudd holds up his ID and gloats, "Diplomatic immunity." Murtaugh shoots him in the head, and replies: "It's just been revoked!"

Running to his partner, Murtaugh finds that, although critically wounded, Riggs is still alive. The two buddies laugh and joke as the sirens come for them in the background.

Production

Development

In the original script, the South Africans were even more vicious. At one point, they even torture Riggs in much the same manner as Mr. Joshua in the original. The ending climaxed with a distraught Riggs dying after the wounds delivered from Arjen Rudd. The character of Rika was originally intended to survive, with the last scene in the movie being Riggs and Rika eating Thanksgiving dinner with the Murtaughs, but the director decided to kill the character to increase Riggs' motivation to destroy the South Africans. The scenes of her rescue and the finale with her were shot, but not used. When the original Shane Black screenplay was changed, he left the series. The rewrites that resulted in the final film are by Warren Murphy, co-creator of Remo Williams (the lead character of The Destroyer novels) and Jeffrey Boam (screenwriter for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Lost Boys).

The film was the debut of Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), a crooked but whistleblowing CPA who is placed in protective custody by Riggs and Murtaugh, and makes the detectives' lives a living hell due to his neurotic behavior. The Getz character remained a regular throughout the remainder of the film series.

At two points in the film, Riggs intentionally dislocates his shoulder in order to get out of a straitjacket and then slams it back into place. This becomes a running gag not only throughout the film series, but also throughout a lot of parody movies.

The film continues a trend in the series of Riggs doing amusing "three stooges" voice effects, usually done in moments of tense fighting with criminal suspects. Though these voice-effects are not ever acknowledged byany antagonists in the Lethal Weapon series, they serve mostly for the sake of Riggs exhibiting this additional quirk to endear himself to the audience.

Filming

The scene where Riggs is on the road outside Arjen's stilt house and grabs onto the front of the truck (the same scene with the surfboard killing a driver) was filmed on March 21, 1989. A featurette on this scene can be viewed in the DVD Special Featurette on action and stunt sequences.

The opening chase sequence was filmed on November 28, 1988 according to the "Behind the Scenes" feature within the DVD's Special Features.

Patsy Kensit described her sex scene with Mel Gibson as having been very uncomfortable to act out. She stated that the reason was that she and Gibson were "both married" and "both Catholics."

The Star Wars series and Ghostbusters notwithstanding (which were released some years before), the film was among the first of the summer blockbusters to feature the 'title only' style of opening that would become an established feature of 'event' movies from that point on.The scenes where Riggs and Rika are ambushed by helicopters at night on the beach was filmed at Marineland of the Pacific in Palos Verdes California, on "Cobble Beach".

Soundtrack

The soundtrack was compiled, written and performed by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton.

The track list released commercially is as follows:
  1. "Cheer Down" - George Harrison
  2. "Still Cruisin' " - The Beach Boys
  3. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" - Randy Crawford/Eric Clapton/David Sanborn
  4. "Riggs"
  5. "The Embassy"
  6. "Riggs and Roger"
  7. "Leo"
  8. "Goodnight Rika"
  9. "The Stilt House"
  10. "The Shipyard/Knockin' on Heaven's Door"


The soundtrack also includes "I'm Not Scared" performed by Eighth Wonder and "Since I Don't Have You", "This I Swear", "Lonely Way", "How Much" and "Believe Me" performed by The Skyliners; however these are not included on the soundtrack album. The inclusion of Eighth Wonder in the soundtrack is notable as leader singer Patsy Kensit also appears in a major role in the movie.

Reception

The movie was the third most successful movie of 1989 in North America (after Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), earning nearly $150 million domestically and $80.6 million overseas. The movie received mostly positive reviews, although not as many as the original. It garnered an 82% from Rotten Tomatoes.

Despite being an overtly anti-Apartheid film and being dismissed by the then South African Consul General in Los Angeles as "an awful film", Lethal Weapon 2 was released uncut in South Africa and was a box-office success, though greeted with amusement.

Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Richard Donner have all stated that this is their favorite film of the Lethal Weapon series.

Alternate versions

Some broadcasts of the movie on UK television remove scenes showing Riggs fighting and killing the two men on the dock after he climbs out of the water. This is because the scenes were cut by the BBFC from all film, video and DVD releases and are therefore not allowed to be shown on TV. The deleted scenes show Riggs first breaking a man's neck and then slamming a car door on another man's head. The final fight with Vorstedt is trimmed down removing the depiction of large amounts of blood. The sequence where he empties a full magazine into one of the villains is also shortened. The movie was however broadcast uncut by Channel 4 on May 17 2007, then FilmFour on July 3 and July 7 2007, then in High Definition on Sky Movies Action/Thriller on 10 October 2008, on E4 on October 17 and 20th 2008, then on the 25th October on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and more recently on Channel 4 again on 9 February 2009. This seems to be proof that the UK version has finally been passed by the BBFC as uncut, but still awaits an uncut DVD release in the UK.

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