One of the few sequels that lives up to and, arguably, may surpass the original is Lethal Weapon 2, released 25 years ago today. With Mel Gibson and Danny Glover returning as possibly the best buddy cops ever, Riggs and Murtaugh, they take on ruthless South African diplomats and get annoyed by newly added regular co-star, Joe Pesci. Richard Donner returned to direct as well and there’s tons of behind the scenes facts and trivia for the movie.
Riggs was supposed to die: The original script, by Lethal Weapon one scribe Shane Black, was much darker, with Riggs getting tortured by the South Africans in much the same way he was tortured by Gary Busey’s Mr. Joshua in the first movie. After suffering the multiple gunshots during the climax, Riggs was going to die but the producers wanted to continue the franchise with both stars, so it was decided Riggs would survive. Black left the series and the script was rewritten.
The scene with Riggs destroying the stilt house (above) cost $500,000.
The movie has the highest body count of the entire Lethal Weapon series, at 33.
There were a number of Lethal Weapon running jokes: All the Lethal Weapons feature a thug with glasses and that is the hitman played by Paul Tuerpe in 2. Riggs having to dislocate his shoulder in every movie was started in this film, where he did it twice, and, of course, Danny Glover decides he’s “too old for this shit” again.
Eric Clapton returned for the soundtrack: Clapton contributed to the jazzy score again and also performed a cover of Knocking on Heaven’s Door with Randy Crawford and David Sanborn. The soundtrack also features a number of tracks from the band, The Skyliners and British pop band Eighth Wonder, whose lead singer, Patsy Kensit, plays Rika in the movie.
The Murtaughs are fans of Tales from the Crypt: The family is watching “And All Through the House”, the second episode of the series during the movie. Richard Donner directed a number of episodes of Tales from the Crypt during its run.
The movie is the highest grossing of the series: It made $20.3 million it’s opening weekend and was the third highest grossing film of 1989, behind Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and has made over $147 million for it’s lifetime/total gross.
It’s the favorite movie of the series for Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Richard Donner.
The movie may have influenced South African politics: Danny Glover’s rant when trying to infiltrate the South African embasy, and especially his line about “one man, one vote” struck a cord with then-South African president, F.W. de Klerk, who used the line in his campaign to end Apartheid and free Nelson Mandela. The night Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994, the movie was coincidentally airing on Australian TV.