“Lethal Weapon” created a successful formula for many action movies. It paired veteran cop Roger Murtaugh with depressed suicidal cop Martin Riggs. The result was a plethora of explosions, car chases and laughs. Many movies have tried to duplicate the same formula since that time with varying degrees of success. These seven movies share the buddy/cop DNA found in “Lethal Weapon” and its sequels:
"Tango & Cash" (1989):
Think of it as "The Odd Couple" with lots of shooting and explosions. Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell play cops with opposite personalities. Stallone is stylish, neat and by-the-book. Russell is messy and rebellious. They are at odds with each other until they are framed for a crime they did not commit. At that point, Tango and Cash are forced to work together to escape from prison and take down the crime lord who set them up. It is over the top in every way, but Stallone and Russell make it all seem fun.
"Turner and Hooch" (1989):
Back before he won Academy Awards for "Forrest Gump" and "Philadelphia," Tom Hanks was tortured by a slobbering mutt. Hanks plays a detective who is forced to house a dog that is the only witness to a murder. There's plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that rank this as one of Hanks' best comedies. The outcome from their climatic encounter with the main villain will also leave few dry eyes.
"Bad Boys" (1995):
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence made the transition from TV to movies as cops who must switch places and assume one another's identities to protect a murder witness while trying to recover stolen heroin. It is directed by Michael Bay and that means one thing. This is a movie that is loud, over-the-top and full of eye candy. Smith and Lawrence have enough chemistry to make it watchable.
"Rush Hour" (1998):
Watching Jackie Chan use his martial art skills to subdue one bad guy after another gives a new spin on the buddy/cop formula. He plays a Hong Kong detective who teams with a loud-mouthed LAPD detective, played by Chris Tucker, to find a kidnapped girl. The pairing is inspired and tons of laughs are generated from the cultural clash between the two leads.
Before he destroyed his leading man status as an alcoholic, Nick Nolte paved the way for "Lethal Weapon" with one of the classic buddy/cop movies. He plays a maverick cop forced to team with a convict, played by Eddie Murphy in his movie debut, for 48 hours in order to catch a pair of convicts who killed his partner. They get their man, but not before driving each other crazy. This movie that proved the formula could be successful.
"Red Heat" (1988):
Belushi as they work to track down a Soviet drug dealer. It played off the fish out-of-water theme as the meeting of Schwarzenegger and Belushi results in a major clash of cultures. Like all Schwarzenegger films, it's best value is found in the unintentional one-liners he spouts.
"In the Heat of the Night" (1967):
Sidney Poitier essentially pioneered the buddy/cop genre with this classic story. Poitier plays a Philadelphia detective who is forced to partner with a racist Southern sheriff, played by Rod Steiger, to solve a murder case. All of the features of the genre are here and the movie was a huge success. It spawned two sequels starting Poitier and was adapted into a successful TV series two decades later.