Lethal weapon 4 is clearly not an Asian movie. There’s far too much mugging and yelling. It’s about as subtle as being hit by a 400 pound sledgehammer, wielded by a mammoth with a massive tusk ache. Director Joel Schumacher presents his opus with a kind of high pitched hysterical manic energy that was an amusing device in the first film, but is nothing more than a nerve grating distraction by the fourth.
It’s Hollywood on speed. Car chases and explosions abound. Gibson, Chris Rock, Joe Pesci, Renee Russo and Danny Glover all have a bad case of motor mouth. Eyes pop, jaws gape, teeth flash – it’s like being assaulted by a screenfful of TV infomercial hosts selling vacuum cleaners.
Enter Jet li.
Like a core of stillness in a battering storm, he made the meaningless chattering dialog recede. Utterly effortlessly, he stole scene after scene. When I first saw this movie, people were wandering out of the cinema in little huddles asking each other, “who IS that?” Women consigned Gibson to distant memories of once-hotness. Who IS that ineffably cool, gorgeous Asian man?
Years later, after forking out a princely four dollars on eBay for a DVD to replace an old VHS copy, I watched Lethal Weapon 4 again, and waited like a breathless fangurl for that first glimpse of that mesmerising man with the prayer beads. Who am I kidding? Once a fangurl, always a fangurl, when it comes to Jet Li.
The irritating stuff still irritates. What IS that stupid routine with the phones? What’s this garbage with the secret marriage? How much noise can a bunch of actors make before someone has to sedate them?
But then, like an epiphany, a good deed in a stupid film, there is that first glimpse of Jet Li. All is forgiven. All is still forgiven.