Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) Poster


After first movie turned out to be huge hit, earning $120 million on the budget of $15 million, it was decided to make the sequel. Producer Joel Silver asked writer of the first film Shane Black to write the script for the sequel, and Black agreed. Despite having some problems in his personal life, Black managed to write his first draft of the script in six months along with his friend, novelist Warren Murphy, co-creator of Remo Williams (the lead character of The Destroyer novels).

Although many people thought that their script was brilliant, Warner Bros studio and producers, including Silver, and director Richard Donner however disagreed with Black's decision to kill off Riggs' character in the ending, because they wanted to keep him alive for future sequels, and they also thought that Black and Murphy's script was way too bloody and dark, and they wanted a lighter, more comedic script, while their draft was completely serious and it focused more on courage and heroics, like Riggs coming full circle from the way he was in the first film and how his relationship with Murtaugh and his family brought him back to life and into the real world, helping him to let his guard down and learn to accept the love of real people, and in Black's version of the script it's the very love that makes Riggs willing to die to protect them.

Other parts from Black and Murphy's script which were changed or left out of the final version of the script include Leo Getz being only a minor character and having only one scene and few lines of dialogue. Lot more violence throughout like South African villains, who were even more vicious in original script than in the final film, torturing Shapiro, female police officer working with Riggs and Murtaugh (one who is killed by bomb in the pool in the film) to death in very nasty scene. There was also a scene where Riggs is tortured by South Africans in similar way like he was in the first film but much worse. Script also included an action sequence in which plane full of cocaine gets destroyed causing for cocaine to fall all over L.A like snow.

The ending of the script included climactic battle which took place at hills engulfed with big brush fire, and after destruction of stilt house Riggs chases Benedict (original name of the villain Pieter Vorstedt from the movie) who was different and lot more dangerous character in original script and Riggs' "arch-nemesis, his worst nightmare" as Black himself said, into the fire. After the final battle with Benedict Riggs dies very slowly after he gets stabbed by him. The last scene in Black's script was Murtaugh watching the video tape that Riggs made earlier since he had a premonition that he was going to die and in which he says his goodbye to Murtaugh.

Following the studio's negative reaction on his script and their demands for massive re-writes, Shane Black left the project after six months earning only $125,000 for his work (Warren Murphy also earned same amount), and never worked on any of the sequels. Black did said in later years in interviews how he considers his original script for Lethal Weapon 2 which was also called Play Dirty to be his best work and most intense script he has written, and how other than the scene where stilt house gets destroyed, his script was completely different than the one used for filming. He also said how the problem with final version of second movie was that they did too much comedy, and how he dislikes the other two sequels of the film because of the way they ruined Riggs' character.

Despite many attempts by fans of the Lethal Weapon movies and Shane Black, his original script for second film was never found and it remains highly demanded and most wanted of all Black's scripts.
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The "bomb in the toilet" sequence was used as an early teaser trailer for the movie. The trailer ended with the toilet landing on Murtaugh's car and the voice-over announcer saying "They're not taking any more crap!"
Leo's "okay-okay-okay" schtick was based on Disneyland employees giving directions to Fantasyland. Originally, Leo was going to be an oily, effeminate character, but Joe Pesci didn't want to play him that way. He pitched the idea of making Leo all-too-eager to please, complete with "okay-okay-okay" ad libs, to Richard Donner. Donner laughed and said, "Do that! Do that!"
During production, Richard Donner was shocked when Mel Gibson confided that he was drinking five pints of beer for breakfast. Despite his alcohol problems, Gibson was known for his professionalism and punctuality.
The body count is 33, the highest of the 'Lethal Weapon' series.
Jack McGee ad-libbed his line about the condom commercial during rehearsals. The cast and crew liked it so much it was kept in the film.
The scene where Mel Gibson attaches cables to the stilts of a mountain-top home and pulls it down cost over $500,000.
According to director Richard Donner's commentary for the film, although they rejected writer Shane Black's original draft of the script mostly because of the ending where Riggs dies, they still filmed the ending of the movie in a way that they could edit it in two different versions of it; Riggs dying or Riggs surviving. After good response from audience during test screening of the movie, it was decided to keep Riggs alive. The last shot of the movie showing Riggs on the ground and Murtaugh holding him while camera moves away from the scene into the air showing the sunrise was actually meant to be used in the ending where Riggs dies, which is why both he and Murtaugh don't move during the scene, so in a way, movie does ends with Riggs dying from his wounds.

Composer Michael Kamen's track Riggs Dying and Eric Clapton's cover of the song Knocking on Heaven's Door were composed and meant to be used only in the "Riggs Dies" ending, so George Harrison's song Cheer Down was used for ending credits once "Riggs Lives" ending was chosen for the final version of the film.
At the beginning of the movie, over the Warner Bros. logo, a few notes of the Looney Tunes' "Merrie Melodies" theme is played.
While the Murtaugh family waits for the commercial, they watch Tales from the Crypt (1989), specifically episode #1.2, Tales from the Crypt: And All Through the House (1989) (the psycho Santa episode), which aired on 10 June 1989, starring Mary Ellen Trainor, who plays police psychiatrist Dr. Stephanie Woods in this movie. Some episodes in the series were produced by the film's director, Richard Donner.
On the side of Riggs' refrigerator is a U.S. Army Military Police School diploma.
One scene that was cut out, but restored in the DVD Director's Cut, is an extended version of Leo trying to show Riggs and Murtaugh where the "house with stilts" is located. In the scene, they are parked off road and Leo is trying to recall the address. He keeps going on and on that the address has to add up to 9 because "nine is my lucky number". Meanwhile, Riggs and Murtaugh look through a map book and randomly pick a street to go down. Following this scene is the one already in the film of them finding the house. The deleted scene further explains Leo's remark "I told you. Nine that's my lucky number," after Murtaugh moans "This is the ninth possibility, Leo."
The scene where Murtaugh does his 'Free South Africa' tirade - his statement of 'one man, one vote' did in fact, became part of then-South Africa's president F.W. de Klerk agenda to end apartheid, lift the ban on the African National Congress (in the film, protesters outside the South African Consulate had the ANC flag), and released Nelson Mandela from incarceration. Danny Glover did portray Nelson Mandela in the made-for-cable HBO film Mandela (1987), which was filmed prior to the release of the first Lethal Weapon film.
The bottle of cologne that is shot during the destruction of Riggs' trailer is "Hero." The first time we see Riggs going into his trailer, there is an ad for that same cologne on TV.
Despite the film's anti-South African stance, it was passed uncut by the South African censors and became a major financial success in that country.
In the scene in which Leo is cleaning Martin Riggs' house, you can hear the song "I'm Not Scared", by the short-lived British pop group Eighth Wonder, of which Patsy Kensit was the lead singer.
Patsy Kensit described her sex scene with Mel Gibson as having been very uncomfortable to act out. She stated that the reason was that she and Gibson were both married and both Catholics.
Shown unscheduled on Australian television the night Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa in May 1994.
Joe Pantoliano was the first choice to play Leo, but he turned it down due to a schedule conflict with The Last of the Finest (1990).
The carpenter is named McGee. This is the actual surname of the actor portraying him, Jack McGee.
Keith Haring's "Free South Africa" poster is seen in a few background shots as it is in Scrooged (1988), also directed by Richard Donner.
Gary Burghoff of MASH (1970) fame turned down the part later taken by Joe Pesci.
Each 'Lethal Weapon' film features a goon with glasses. Here, in the second one, it is the hitman played by Paul Tuerpe who appears in the scenes when Riggs shoots the fish tank and when the hit squad attacks Riggs' trailer.
Rudd says that he lost over 1 million US dollars in Krugerrand. The price of gold in 1989 was around $400 an ounce. It would take over 2400 coins to equal that amount of money. One Krugerrand weighs 33.93 grams. The total weight of the coins would be just under 180 pounds.
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The only film in the 'Lethal Weapon' series in which Riggs drives a blue GMC Sierra. In the other films, Riggs drives a black GMC Sierra.
The only Lethal Weapon movie where Riggs doesn't hit with his left hand.
Main cinematography took place in the spring of 1989.
During the scene where Martin Riggs is talking about his gold pen and is making what is presumably a pot of chili he can be seen crushing Oreo cookies into the pot. Later in the movie Riggs asks Rika if she likes her chili "with or without crushed Oreos"
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In the opening scene, Riggs uses the Western Union phonetic alphabet ("Adams Henry") to report the license plate number, instead of the NATO alphabet which would be "Alpha Hotel".
Throughout several points in the movie, Riggs willfully mispronounces Arjen Rudd's name as "Aryan", willfully calls Pieter Vorstedt "Adolf", and refers to Rudd, Vorstedt, and their associates as the "Master Race". These are all references to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis before and during World War II. "Aryan Race" or "Master Race" was a Nazi ideological form which became a concept for white supremacism. The South African practice of Apartheid at the time was also another ideological form of white supremacy, which is likely why Riggs made these comparisons.
George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne composed "Cheer Down" for the soundtrack of this film.
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An alternate ending to the movie featured a Thanksgiving dinner at the Murtaugh house which is attended by both Riggs and Rika Van Dan Haas. Director Richard Donner later decided that Rika should be killed to further fuel Riggs' hatred of the South African diplomats. With Rika dead, this entire ending had to be scrapped. This ending was filmed prior to filming some of the other scenes from the film, including most of the second half where Riggs and Murtaugh go into final showdown with South Africans. Another reason why this ending was not used is because filmmakers weren't sure about whether Riggs should die or live at the end of the film.
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In the beginning chase scene, Riggs reads the license plate 24AdamHenry174, the "Adam Henry" part was an inside joke being that it's a police movie. In police lingo, Adam Henry i.e. AH is an abbreviation for asshole.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Riggs intentionally dislocates his shoulder in this film in order to get out of a straitjacket, then has to slam his shoulder back into place. This becomes a running gag throughout the series, where he slams his shoulder back into place after riding a motorcycle off a bridge in Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) and Ku (Jet Li's character) dislocates both of Rigg's shoulders in a fight scene in Lethal Weapon 4 (1998).

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