|Directed by||Richard Donner|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Starring|| Mel Gibson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Preceded by||First of the series|
|Followed by||Lethal Weapon 2|
Lethal Weapon is the first entry in the Lethal Weapon Series. Directed by Richard Donner, the film was released on March 6, 1987, and stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as LAPD officers Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh.
L.A.P.D. Sergeant Roger Murtaugh is worried about getting older, having recently celebrated his 50th birthday, and received messages from Michael Hunsaker, an old war buddy from Vietnam he realises he has not seen in 12 years. Called to investigate a suicide, he is horrified to find the victim is Amanda Hunsaker, daughter of Michael. Elsewhere, younger L.A.P.D. Sergeant Martin Riggs, depressed and suicidal following the recent death of his wife, nearly kills a disarmed suspect after entering a psychotic rage during a drug bust. Weary of his behaviour, Riggs' superiors transfer him to Murtaugh's unit, making them very reluctant partners.
During Amanda's autopsy, drugs laced with drain cleaner are found in her system. Although she jumped to her death, she would have died within minutes anyway, making her death a homicide. After informing her distraught father, who says he was trying to contact Murtaugh to get Amanda out of her drug and pornography habits, Riggs and Murtaugh go to question a pimp known to have connections to Amanda. Finding a drug lab on the premises, they engage in a brief gunfight with the pimp, where Riggs saves Murtaugh's life, leading to respect between them. Having found the drugs and with the pimp dead, Murtaugh assumes the case is closed, but Riggs finds it suspicious that the only witness to Amanda's suicide was a prostitute named Dixie, who was working away from her usual location. They deduce Dixie was the one who poisoned Amanda, then posed as a witness to cover her actions.
The next morning, Riggs and Murtaugh go to Dixie's home to question her, but her house explodes just as they arrive. Investigating the site, Riggs (a former Special Forces soldier in Vietnam) finds part of the bomb, a mercury switch, knowing only a professional would use such a device. A neighbourhood child also remembers seeing a blonde hair man at Dixie's earlier, who had a Special Forces tattoo similar to Riggs' own. Seeing a connection to Vietnam, they decide Michael Hunsaker knows more than he has admitted and Murtaugh confronts him at Amanda's wake.
Hunsaker admits he is involved in a heroin-smuggling operation run by Vietnam War special forces troops, known as 'Shadow Company' (see Air America). The scheme is masterminded by a ruthless retired General, Peter McAllister (Mitchell Ryan) - the former commander of Shadow Company - and his chief enforcer, Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey). Hunsaker was laundering the profits through his bank. McAllister had ordered the murder of Amanda when Michael wanted out and unsuccessfully tried to alert Murtaugh to the scheme. As Murtaugh attempts to make Hunsaker reveal the entirety of his operation, Mr. Joshua makes a surprise appearance in a helicopter and shoots Hunsaker dead with a sniper rifle.
As Riggs and Murtaugh attempt to investigate Dixie's connection, the increasingly violent members of Shadow Company make an attempt to kill Riggs (which they believe is successful, though Riggs had been wearing a bulletproof vest) and then kidnap Murtaugh's daughter Rianne. Using Riggs' presumed-dead status to their advantage, Murtaugh agrees to meet Shadow Company in the desert to exchange himself for Rianne, knowing Shadow Company's plan is to kill them all anyway. As Riggs provides sniper cover from a distance, Roger attempts to make Rianne flee, but ultimately the three are captured. McAllister tortures Murtaugh to reveal which of their drug shipments have been compromised, eventually threatening Rianne when Murtaugh is not forthcoming, refusing to believe Hunsaker told them nothing. Riggs, brutally tortured with electric shocks, frees himself and then rescues both Murtaugh and Rianne. The pair then fight their way free of their prison, finding themselves in a downtown L.A. nightclub. Riggs chases Joshua on to the street and attempts to cut him off on the freeway, though Joshua ultimately escapes. Murtaugh finds McAllister trying to flee in his car. Taking out McAllister's driver, Murtaugh watches as the car crashes on Hollywood Boulevard and is blown up by a live hand grenade (along with the heroin shipment). Riggs and Murtaugh then head to Murtaugh's home, knowing Joshua will head there to attack Murtaugh's family, who are absent. Seeking revenge, Riggs engages Joshua in hand-to-hand combat on Murtaugh's front lawn; after a long and brutal exchage, Riggs is the victor. As he's being arrested, Joshua overpowers two officers and attempts to shoot Riggs. Riggs and Murtaugh both draw and fire, killing Joshua.
Murtaugh and Riggs are now solid friends, and Riggs spends Christmas Day at the Murtaugh home with Roger's family; Riggs brings his dog Sam to be a friend to the Murtaugh family cat, Burbank. Riggs also gives Murtaugh a symbolic gift: the unfired hollow point bullet which he had been saving to commit suicide, as he doesn't need it anymore.