In 1998, Jet Li began his Hollywood career by playing a formidable killer in “Lethal Weapon 4”. His martial prowess bluffs Richard Donner and his team, and his speed even becomes problematic for them on set…
Lethal Weapon 4: not yet too old for this bullshit
Eleven years after the first film and six years after the third, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover teamed up again in 1998 in Lethal Weapon 4, still under the direction of Richard Donner. In this fourth episode, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh both see their family grow. While the first prepares to welcome his first child with Lorna (Rene Russo), the second discovers that he is about to become a grandfather.
Everything would be fine for the two Los Angeles cops if they hadn’t come across a freighter with many Chinese illegal immigrants on board. Their investigation leads them to Uncle Benny Chan (Kim Chan), the head of a smuggling ring. While their respective personal lives elude them, Riggs and Murtaugh try to stop counterfeit money trafficking.
Joe Pesci, Chris Rock, Darlene Love, and Jet Li round out the cast of Lethal Weapon 4which abandon the darkness of the first two opuses to focus on humor like its predecessor.
Jet Li, too lively for Hollywood
If Martin Riggs is no longer at all the tortured cop of yesteryear and the feature film connects the floodgates between Joe Pesci and Chris Rock, it is not devoid of violence. Jet Li offers for example several brutal sequences to the movie. For this first Hollywood experience, the star of Once upon a time in China and Fist of Legend inherits his first villain role. Presented as a henchman of Uncle Benny, Wah Sing Ku quickly establishes himself as the true antagonist of Lethal Weapon 4. This fearsome killer demonstrates amazing mastery of martial arts, especially during the finale where the two heroes have no choice but to join forces to face him.
Originally, Richard Donner and producer Joel Silver envisioned Jackie Chan to portray him. But the latter refuses, not wanting to lend his features to such a Machiavellian character. Jet Li eventually joins the project, along with filmmaker and choreographer Corey Yuen to oversee the fights, as reported by Allocinated. If he is not sure about succeeding in playing a villain, the actor is ultimately very convincing.
His physical prowess bluffs the whole team by Richard Donner. Asked by the wall street journal in 1998, Joel Silver said:
Have I ever seen him do anything superhuman on set? Everyday. This guy is so fast that Mel had to memorize his moves. Jet moves too fast for anyone to anticipate its movements.
According to the Screening, director should have even asked Jet Li to slow down the cameras not being able to correctly capture his gestures because of his astounding speed…