Lethal Weapon Wiki
Lethal Weapon 4
LW4 Poster.jpg
Directed by Richard Donner
Produced by Richard Donner
Joel Silver
Written by Jonathan Lemkin
Alfred Gough
Wikipedia:Miles MillarMiles Millar
Screenplay by Channing Gibson
Based on Characters by Shane Black
Starring Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Joe Pesci
Rene Russo
Chris Rock
Jet Li
Music by Michael Kamen
Eric Clapton
David Sanborn
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Editing by Frank J. Urioste
Dallas Puett
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) July 10, 1998
Running time 127 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $140 million
Gross revenue $285.4 million
Preceded by Lethal Weapon 3
Followed by Lethal Finale

Lethal Weapon 4 is the fourth film directed by Richard Donner and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock and Jet Li.


In this installment of the Lethal Weapon series, Lorna Cole is pregnant with Martin Riggs' baby; they are not married, but both are thinking about it and have misgivings and fears. Murtaugh's daughter, Rianne Butters, is also pregnant and has secretly married Lee Butters, a young cop who works at the same precinct as Murtaugh and Riggs, though she cannot tell her father because he doesn't want her to date cops.

The opening scene is an unrelated sequence in which Riggs and Murtaugh, two LAPD sergeants, confront a lunatic wearing a flame-retardant armored suit and wielding an automatic firearm and a flamethrower. The unidentified man is destroying cars and shops along a city street. Aside from some comedic value and a reminder to the audience of Riggs marksmanship skills, the scene mainly serves to show the two partners informing each other of Lorna's and Rianne's pregnancies. There, Murtaugh is in his boxers for distraction of the lunatic, with Riggs shooting the napalm valve causing it to go out of control and go flying straight into a nearby gas station, thus causing a tanker truck to go flying and landing on Riggs and Murtaugh's car blowing it up in the process, leaving Riggs and Murtaugh to walk on foot. After this scene, a title card shifts the story to "almost nine months later."

The rest of the movie revolves around Riggs, Murtaugh and Butters' investigation of a Chinese immigrant smuggling ring, which begins after a vessel is captured with a cargo hold of slave labor. That night, Murtaugh, Riggs and Leo Getz - the latter now a private detective - find a small dinghy alongside with an entire Chinese family, whom he "rescues" and provides shelter for at his house, claiming to be "freeing slaves." Meanwhile, Riggs and Murtaugh are being informed by Captain Murphy that the damage they've caused, the department lost it's insurance and aren't able to get a new one, and since firing them isn't really an option for them, they're being promoted to Captain.

Information about a crime boss known as Uncle Benny Chan (Kim Chan) then leads them to Chinatown, where they are introduced to their new arch-nemesis, a high-ranking Triad negotiator named Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li). Wah Sing Ku is organizing the release from prison of four Triad overlords, called the Four Fathers. They are being held by a corrupt Chinese general who demands a huge payoff in exchange for their freedom, but Uncle Benny and Wah Sing Ku have plans to give him counterfeit money instead. The captive artist working on the printing plates for the scam is the elder uncle to Hong, the father of the Chinese family Murtaugh has rescued.

Riggs and Murtaugh decide to hire Leo to follow Uncle Benny around, but the Triads feels they are getting too close and decides to strike back. After Hong contacts his uncle, Riggs and Murtaugh come home to find Wah Sing Ku there with the other Triad gang members holding Murtaugh's family hostage; Hong and his family were already kidnapped. After a brief skirmish (where Wah Sing Ku dismantles Riggs' gun with a flick of his wrist in one deft move), the entire family is tied up and left to die in the house as it is set on fire with everyone inside, including both pregnant women. Ping, the youngest of the Hong children, comes out from hiding safely and cuts them loose setting them free just in time to break out through the living room window.

Riggs takes a radio from Lorna's car, and the pair set off with Rianne's car in hot pursuit of two of the Triad men. Reaching them on the freeway, Riggs lets Murtaugh take over driving and climbs out of the car and leaps over to a mobile home. He pulls one of the thugs through the car window into it, demanding to know where the Hongs are. After engaging in a fight they crash onto the road; Riggs, sitting on a table, holds onto the trailer by the plastic covering they fell through, and the Triad man is run over by a bus. His partner accelerates and attempts to kill Riggs, who is forced to throw one of the table legs at the assailant. Murtaugh rams into the Triads car' and, hearing sirens, the thug makes an escape. Riggs climbs back beside Murtaugh, and they chase the thug, trying to find answers. However, the Triad man rams them off into a ramp, launching them into a building, driving through one of the floors and out back onto the road. Exiting from the freeway, the last Triad man they know of is killed by a semi-truck after running a red light.

Leo alerts them that he had tracked down Uncle Benny at his dentist's office, and while using Leo as a distraction to keep the dentist busy, Riggs, Murtaugh, and Butters use laughing gas to extract the truth from him on where the Hongs are at. Here, Murtaugh inadvertently learns that Butters is married to his daughter and that he is the father of her baby, but puts it aside until later. Uncle Benny mentions the Four Fathers, which the detectives mishear as "forefathers"; another detective, Detective Ng, who knows about Chinese society and cultures, corrects them on this point and helps them piece the entire operation together. Benny is later strangled to death by Wah Sing Ku for his indiscretion, and Hong is killed as an example to get his uncle to cooperate. Even when the printing plates are finished, the uncle is killed as well for no information to given to the cops about what went on at the hideout.

Arriving at the meeting between the Triads and the corrupt general and his men, Riggs, Murtagh, Butters and several other detectives reveal to the general and his men that the money that is being given him for the release of the Four Fathers is counterfeit. As a result, the general personally executes three of the Four Fathers. Wah Sing Ku's henchmen shoot and kill the general, and a gunfight breaks out between the cops, the Triads, and the general's private army in the foreign trade zone down by the docks. During the fight, one of the Four Fathers and older brother to Wah Sing Ku is killed by Murtaugh, and Butters is injured while protecting Murtaugh. The climactic scene takes place on a pier where Riggs and Murtaugh, both unarmed, take on Wah Sing Ku, who is enraged by the death of his brother. Eventually, while Ku nearly kills Riggs by choking him, Murtaugh impales Ku with a piece of steel rebar. Murtaugh is knocked out unconscious by Ku, and Riggs and Ku fall into the water as the concrete pier collapses. Ku, after getting brutally beaten as well as impaled, is finally killed by a desperate Riggs with a submerged AK-47 nearby. Riggs swims up to the surface, but becomes trapped underwater again and pinned under a part of the broken pier. Murtaugh comes to his senses regaining his consciousness, and realizes Riggs is in the water and dives in to pull the broken part of the pier on him and saves him.

The next scene shows Riggs at his deceased wife Victoria Riggs' grave telling her he hasn't visited her in a while, and confesses to her of his love for Lorna. He asks her for help and support in marrying Lorna as he tells her she would've wanted him to be happy and be married again and make Lorna happy as he made her happy when they were married. He then suddenly draws his gun when he hears a nearby footsteps in the cemetery, which turned out to be Leo Getz practicing his PI techniques. Leo tells Riggs an emotional story of his life and how that he and Murtaugh are the only real friends he's ever had aside from his childhood pet frog, and how they're like family to him. Riggs' pager reveals indicating that it's a message from Lorna that she's about to have the baby and they rush to the hospital. Before leaving the grave, Riggs tells Victoria that he'll always have the ring she gave him, and always have her in his heart and memories.

The movie and series ends with Lorna and Martin's last-ditch marriage by a minister, Rabbi Gelb, in the maternity ward, and Roger accepting Butters as his son-in-law, as well as his and Rianne's marriage. Two babies are born to Rianne and Lorna, as Martin Riggs is finally settling down. Captain Ed Murphy gives them their former positions as sergeants back since the city is self-insured, and brings gifts for the newborn babies Billy (Martin & Lorna's son) and Victoria (Rianne & Lee's daughter). The Hong family is finally granted asylum. Everyone in the maternity ward is all getting their picture taken by the doctor for the family. The end credits feature the song "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War along with a collage of screen shots and snapshots taken during production from all four movies, signifying the end of the series.


The Murtaugh Family

The Riggs Family

The main cast at the Lethal Weapon 4 premiere.


Possible Sequel[]

There has been talk of a fifth Lethal Weapon film, although neither Mel Gibson nor Danny Glover have expressed interest. In 2007, Moviehole.net received word from sources that Warner Bros. are in the early stages of trying to relaunch the Lethal Weapon series sometime in 2009 or later. A spec script treatment has been written by Shane Black, leading to rumors that the sequel was on fast track by Warner Bros. with Black in the director's chair. Actor Columbus Short said he was being considered for the role of Murtaugh's son. Director Richard Donner is not involved with these plans, but he has his own ideas for a Lethal Weapon 5. According to the Los Angeles Times, Gibson has refused to reprise his role as Martin Riggs for the fifth time, which Donner thinks is out of personal loyalty because Donner is not involved. Joel Silver later confirmed Gibson’s lack of interest in the project. "We talked about it, but it was something that Mel didn't want to do now," he explained. "It doesn't mean that he doesn't want to do it ever, but as of right now, he doesn't." On the Australian website What's Playing, an insider said, "They’re talking again. Mel probably needs Joel, not to mention Lethal Weapon now more than ever, so I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it comes off this time. And it could be a good move, that’s a mighty big brand name – it probably would help Gibson, professionally-speaking.”

In November 2017, Mel Gibson hinted that a fifth movie might happen and that he, Richard Donner, and Danny Glover have discussed the idea to return. In December 2017, Donner confirmed in an interview on the Spocklight podcast that Gibson and Glover have agreed to return as Riggs and Murtaugh respectively and that he has a story all set. The only obstacle is Warner Bros. Pictures greenlighting the film. Donner has recruited Channing Gibson, the original screenwriter from the fourth film, to begin writing the script. The story will take place in present day (setting the characters of Murtaugh and Riggs in their mid-seventies and sixties, respectively) and will be the final film in the series. In February 2018, Donner revealed the film's official title to be Lethal Finale; while also stating that the film is being held up by the production company.

See Also[]