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What's the story?
LETHAL WEAPON 4 starts with the revelation that Riggs will be a father and Murtaugh a grandfather. There is a harder edge: The movie's plot revolves around the smuggling of Chinese immigrants and counterfeiting of Chinese currency. After trying to harbor innocent immigrant families, Riggs and Murtaugh find themselves in the middle of a Hong Kong gang war. Chris Rock joins the fun as amped-up detective Lee Butters, dispensing some of the funnier lines in the series. In an attempt to marry the kinetic energy of Hong Kong martial arts movies with the more familiar tropes of American action films, Jet Li is cast as the head bad guy.
Is it any good?
Surprisingly, this final installment in the Lethal Weapon series is less of a tired retread than the second and third films. Inventive action sequences replace forced sentiment and tedious slapstick, and this one is also more complex than its predecessors. It embodies both the strengths and weaknesses of a sequel: it uses familiar characters to show how people change over time, but it's also annoyingly repetitious. This movie tackles meaty issues like marriage and illegal immigration, but in the ham-fisted way that only an action film can do.
For the most part, the comedy is more foolish than mean-spirited. Regrettably, there is some racial stereotyping -- the virtues of the Chinese people are reduced to their food, martial arts, and overly ingratiating behavior. There are also the requisite homophobic jokes. Overall, this film exceeds the expectations set by its forerunners, but isn't anything more than a good action movie.
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