Lethal Weapon 4
By Elliot Panek,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Hong Kong action plus buddy cop formula.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Characters use violence to solve conflicts, and don't take it seriously. Offensive portrayals of Chinese people. Homophobic jokes.
Violence & Scariness
Death by shooting, explosion and impaling. Man hit by a bus onscreen.
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Plenty of foul language, though less than in previous sequels.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some abuse of Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) in a dentist's office.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a violent film, including shootings, explosions and even an impaling. Characters don't take the violence seriously. There are offensive portrayals of Chinese people, and some homophobic jokes. Characters also abuse laughing gas.
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Where to Watch
Based on 6 parent reviews
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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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about stereotypes in action films. What stereotypes do you see here? Are any of them offensive to you -- or are the familiar representations part of the formula (and fun)? Can you think of an action film that did thing a little differently?
- In theaters: July 10, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: December 15, 1998
- Cast: Danny Glover, Mel Gibson, Rene Russo
- Director: Richard Donner
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and language
- Last updated: June 1, 2023
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