by Raffi, 7/08/98
Yes! I got to see Lethal Weapon 4 four days early! I thought I'd give a little review here to let everyone know what to expect in Jet Li's first American movie! My good friend Mae and I went as two hardcore wushu practioners/Jet Li fans. If you haven't read it already, you might want to read my article about meeting Jet Li in LA in June. Feel free to check out my wushu news page to learn how I got to go to the sneak preview.
First off, let me say, YES, Jet Li does kick major ass in the movie. I know thats what you all wanted to know. Jet kicks just about everyone's ass that his foot comes anywhere near. He kicks Mel's ass, he kicks Danny's ass. Unfortunately he does not get the opportunity to kick Chris Rock's ass, but he did get a nice kick in on Rene Russo's face (thats not a proper substitution, of course).
I have to say, having seen a lot of Hollywood and Hong Kong movies, Lethal Weapon 4 has the best martial arts of any American movie I've seen (hmm, thats a pretty grandioise statement... maybe "possibly the best martial arts..." would be safer to say?) From what I understand, Jet brought in some fight coreographers from HK for the fight scenes, and it worked well. Jet's talents are most definitely showcased to the fullest.
Hmm, I might go so far as to say that Jet steals the show, he is so much more interesting than the rest of the characters and the rest of the story, that I'm willing to ignore that incredibly ugly hairdo they gave him (a tale? SOOO 80's trailer trash!) Mel and Danny do their standard LW schtick, which is really wearing thin by this forth movie, Joe Pesci is tolerable, Chris Rock gets more tolerable as the movie progresses (I still dislike him as an actor, and he is quite unconvincing as a police officer).
What about Jet being a bad guy? He comes off really well... his character is a real bad ass... killing people left and right, whooping on Hollywood superstars who are getting paid upwards of $20 million... Unfortunately, as a bad guy, he must of course not win in the end, but he does manage to look pretty bad-ass every minute he's on screen.
Jet only has like one line in English in the whole movie, at least that I can recall, its the "In Hong Kong, you'd already be dead!" line you hear on the radio commercial, but he does have a lot of Mandarin lines (the 'amongst bad guys' scenes are all in Chinese, of course). He wears those Pajama outfits throughout the whole movie though, I don't know why exactly, but at least he changes from his black one to his white one by the end of the movie just to prove to us that he has more than one pair of pants.
So did I like the movie? Well if you took Jet out, I think this movie would be pretty lame actually. Mel comes off as too much of a smart ass all the time. The Riggs-Murtaugh chemistry is as annoying as ever. I have never liked the LW series for more than just mindless action and formulaic story: bad guys destroy Danny Glover's house, Big fight scene, Mel gets the crap beat out of him, but manages to win in the end, of course.
And of course there are the 'details' which director Richard Donner likes to ignore in all his movies, like "hey, there are two guys fighting on a coffee table sliding down the highway being dragged from a tracker trailer carrying a pre-fab house by a big sheet of plastic, how odd! Well, I guess I'll just drive along side and watch rather than slowing down to avoid such danger..." or "Hey, we're about to drive into a large stronghold where bad guys and their private armies are having a high stakes business deal, let's not actually call for back up!" Are you getting my point?
But then there are lots of things I can't ignore, and really bothered me throughout the movie. its the RACISM. Yes, there is a lot of racist humor in this movie. Nearly all of it coming out of Mel's mouth. Things like eggroll jokes, the "flied lice" line and his common "speakie english?" comments. I suppose you could rationalize it that Riggs is a racist and Murtaugh isn't (At least Danny Glover refrains from such dialog, but Joe Pesci does not). But thats no excuse in today's day and age to have Mel Gibson, who gets paid $20 million making jokes about Chinese people's accents. This is the main reason why I was cheering everytime Jet kicked Mel's sorry ass.
OK, Is this enough info? feel free to email me if you want anymore. I will be updating this asap once I hear back from my friend Anne, she is doing a wushu demo at the premiere in LA which is tonight too. Hopefully she managed to get some pictures w/ the stars. And once the movie comes out I'll maybe throw in some more opinions about the movie that I didn't want to mention here lest I spoil the movie for everyone (like the part where the dinosaur eats the guy...)
As far as the movie goes, Anne liked it, especially the fact that it properly showcased Jet and his wushu. The wushu demo apparently occurred while the stars were nearby going down the red carpet getting interviewed by the press.
Anne snapped some pictures, which we will scan and put up here ASAP, also she's trying to get her hands on some of the other photos taken by other wushu demoers. Check back in the next few days for more updates.
I was watching Entertainment Tonight this evening and they covered the premiere briefly. They did show two clips that included Jet in the report, but they didn't show him at the premiere or mention him. But interestingly, during a clip of Howie Mandel, you could see the wushu demo going on the background (Apparently group broadsword).
Click HERE to see more info on the chat with Jet and a little bio and an interview (karate chops? give me a break!)
All in all, I liked Jet's appearance on Howie Mandel's show much more than on the Tonight Show, he seemed much more at ease, and he had more time to tell some cool stories including the 'bugged room' story. -- When Jet came to the US in '74 on the first wushu tour of America before he left China they told him to be careful what he said because the Americans would be listening to him. When he came to the US he didn't believe that there was anyone listening so when he was in his hotel room the first day in New York he walked up to things like the telephone, mirror and flower vase asking for things like ice cream, bananas and chocolates. The next day when he came back to his room he was stunned to find ice cream, bananas and chocolates in his room. The implication here is that someone was listening in and was nice enough to satiate this eleven year old kid. They also showed some film from that trip, it was the young Jet performing on the White House lawn for President Nixon.