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Face-Off: Die Hard Franchise vs. Lethal Weapon Franchise

Feb. 14, 2013by: Paul Huffman
Months ago, we put together an action filled match up in John McClane vs. Martin Riggs. In that match, John McClane took the verdict with the readers opinions being far more split than I had imagined. It left me curious, would a match between the series of films these characters inhabited produce the same results?

To continue Die Hard week here on the JoBlo, we've decided to pit one kick ass series of action films against another in a match between the Die Hard Series and the Lethal Weapon Series. The first two entries in both have maintained their spot as a couple of the best action films of all time, and while the sequels don't really hold that claim, they are still entertaining as all hell. What I've found while putting the idea for this article together is that the franchise as a whole is pretty much equal in terms of quality, but I have found that one quality that makes it stand out above the other, read on folks!
Die Hard/Lethal Weapon
The film that started it all. Die Hard is near perfection and there are many moments that make it what it is, but there is one scene that defines how amazing it is for me. That is the first confrontation between John McClane and Hans Gruber, the way they got a feel for each other and Hans thinking he's gotten the better of John and...oops! Then we have the great bromance that develops between John and Al, the strong woman in Holly, and the plethora of one liners. The film is very basic, straight up, and filled with everything that makes an action film great. These guys probably had no idea what they were starting.
Still my favorite buddy cop film of all time. You have to love two heroes with such contrasting personalities, and Mel Gibson's intensity here was out of this world. So many memorable scenes including that leap from the building, the following 'are you really crazy' scene, and how about that final fight between Gibson and Busey? Speaking of Busey, the guy did what he did best and portrayed a total nutcase that was a great foil for our heroes. The character and relationship developments were the best thing about this first installment, and as it turns out...they were nowhere near too old for this shit.
Die Hard 2/Lethal Weapon 2
Die Harder was such an appropriate sub title for this sequel, everything was bigger here, and I think in a good way. The villains weren't as memorable, but Bruce as John McClane was in top form for the second outing of the series. Great use of returning characters like Holly and William Atherton as that sh*thead reporter, putting the former in a situation that gives us the emotional investment we needed. One entertaining aspect of the stakes being raised was the all out kick ass action sequences, they really upped their game here and I dug it. I missed Rickman and the baddie he provided, but this is Willis' show and he reminded us why in this film.
Lethal Weapon 2 was just as great as the first, but in a different way. We get the comedy via the evolution of the Riggs' character and the introduction of Joe Pesci into the series, and eventually a glimpse back into his dark roots when Riggs has a very bad day and learns a disturbing truth connected to his wifes death. Another aspect here that I loved was that I absolutely detested the villains in this film, especially the main weasel in Mr. Rudd who hides behind his diplomatic status for most of the film. Great conflict, great humor, great action, and more Riggs and Murtaugh give Lethal Weapon 2 the edge here I must say.
Die Hard WAV/Lethal Weapon 3
How does a film that is essentially a wild goose chase for most if its duration manage to stay so damn entertaining? Several reasons, one being a great pairing in Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson with his turn as Zeus, and genuinely disturbing scenarios that are very real fears and enough to make a city indeed panic. Some wanted more action out of this film, but other elements that make these films so great were present so I was invested nonetheless. Jeremy Irons is no Alan Rickman, but his voice alone is enough to make you sh*t your pants and he did a credible job. More John McClane back on his home turf was all I wanted, and that's what I got. A worthy entry.
Lethal Weapon 3 is a tough nut to crack. The films fatal flaw in my opinion is the lack of a formidable villain. But what it did have is a return to the chemistry between the characters we grew to love, and a serious theme to explore that I could get behind. The guns being put in the hands of young people was a very real situation especially around the time this came out, and I loved that the film explored the emotional ramifications of a great police officer like Murtaugh having to deal with an issue like this. Rene Russo was also a great new addition as a strong woman who you could see Riggs falling for. Like Die Hard 3, this film nowhere near captures the magic of the first...but they were by no means bad films.
Live Free or Die Hard/Lethal Weapon 4
Opinions on Live Free or Die Hard have remained mixed since its release. Personally, I dig it more and more with every viewing. People were up in arms over the theatrical PG-13 rating the film received...the "unrated" version has improved upon that travesty. But what about the film as a whole? Justin Long is not Sam Jackson, but he managed not to be completely annoying, again Timothy Olyphant is no Rickman but there is no denying his charisma (I just wish his final confrontation with McClane was handled better), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead was a perfect rendition of what John McClane's daughter would grow up to be. Great over the top action and Bruce seemed to have fun stepping back into John McClane's shoes. It's one of those films you just have to have fun with.
We got to see Jet Li's kick ass baddie in action 3 times throughout the film...two of which lasted about a second, now the final battle was the films shining moment which is one thing this film has over Live Free or Die Hard. That said, it felt like something was missing. The humor was there, the action was great when it was featured (maybe I could have used more), the emotion they managed to bring to the first three in one way or the other was pretty much absent...and its a theme I really dug in the others. It seemed more like a comedy than anything else, with the actors trying to out-funny each other. Were they too old for this shit? Not quite, the film was entertaining...but not on par with the rest of the series.
Tie Breaker
Bruce Willis has been carrying this franchise on his back throughout the years and he has deserved all the hype. He know what makes John McClane tick, he knows his appeal to the audience and he has brought it every single time. They've never quite captured the magic of the first but some form of magic has been sprinkled on every single installment. The series has had great supporting characters for John to contend with and you need that to compliment a main hero. Bruce could believable keep these going for a few more years and based on the memory of the previous four, I will be there opening day for each of them. Yippie-kay-yay motherfuckers!
Buddy films have come before Lethal Weapon and after Lethal Weapon, but few if any have done it like Riggs and Murtaugh. It seems the more and more I talk about the Die Hard series and this series benefit from many of the same virtues and a few of the same flaws. The quality hasn't been consistent, but its there. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover a treat to see together so much so I wouldn't mind a fifth installment to see it again. At their peak, the action scenes in these films were just as great as that of Die Hards, the supporting characters just as memorable, the humor just as...well...humorous.
Die Hard
There you have it folks, both of these franchises are legendary...but there is just something about that damn John McClane, cracking wise and being a badass. Both series of films have entries that I enjoyed more than the other and it's in that fact that I believe made the team of Riggs and Murtaugh a formidable match for McClane's solo act. My fut instinct tells me you lot will agree, so let me know where you stand.

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

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+1
8:55AM on 02/16/2013

While I agree with the final result...

I don't agree with particular categories. As far as the originals go, Die Hard is the superior movie in my opinion, it's larger, it has a WAY better villain and I more interesting scenario. Lethal Weapon was great but it's just a really good buddy cop movie. The sequels? Here I could give a tie. LW2 is the best in the series in my opinion, Pesci lightened the mood, Riggs developed as a character, it was funnier, more action packed and in the end even more dramatic than the original. But Die
I don't agree with particular categories. As far as the originals go, Die Hard is the superior movie in my opinion, it's larger, it has a WAY better villain and I more interesting scenario. Lethal Weapon was great but it's just a really good buddy cop movie. The sequels? Here I could give a tie. LW2 is the best in the series in my opinion, Pesci lightened the mood, Riggs developed as a character, it was funnier, more action packed and in the end even more dramatic than the original. But Die Hard 2 is almost as good as its predecessor. It's in the top 10 of my favorite action movies of all-time, a great sequel that amps up the ante. DH3 towers over LW3 in my opinion, which is the weakest one in its series. DH3 was a great return from McTiernan, while LW3 felt less impressive, too comedic and a bit bland. However I must say, I really liked Lethal Weapon 4. It added two GREAT characters to the series - Jet Li and Chris Rock, both of whom made a good impact on the series and the story. I liked how it had a sense of closure to it, how Riggs finally caught up with Rog on the whole I'm too old, and how they had to challenge themselves one last time against Li. Underrated entry. DH4 was good in the theatre, but with repeated viewings it was pretty bad. Too wild, too crazy, too out there. The "unrated" edition was just a slap to the face, with some dubbed, off-screen fucks that felt very awkward. By now I actually hate DH4 and I'm really afraid of checking out part 5.
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4:58AM on 02/15/2013
WOW.... Are you guys serious?

LW isn't even close. Mostly what holds them together is the chemistry between Gibson and Glover. The action is so so at best, and the bad guys are weak. There is a reason the sequels got overstuffed with so many extra faces... There isn't a lot that holds the series together.
WOW.... Are you guys serious?

LW isn't even close. Mostly what holds them together is the chemistry between Gibson and Glover. The action is so so at best, and the bad guys are weak. There is a reason the sequels got overstuffed with so many extra faces... There isn't a lot that holds the series together.
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10:12PM on 02/14/2013
Almost a tie. The odd numbered movies belong to Die Hard (1 & 3), and Lethal Weapon wins the evens (2 & 4). As a franchise I give Lethal Weapon the win, b/c I like how it feels like more of a series with the returning supporting cast in each film, whereas Die Hard, after 2, kept McClane but changed everyone else.
Almost a tie. The odd numbered movies belong to Die Hard (1 & 3), and Lethal Weapon wins the evens (2 & 4). As a franchise I give Lethal Weapon the win, b/c I like how it feels like more of a series with the returning supporting cast in each film, whereas Die Hard, after 2, kept McClane but changed everyone else.
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6:26PM on 02/14/2013

GO SPIT

Lethal Weapon, can watch all 4 movies over and over. Can do without Live Free or Die Hard
Lethal Weapon, can watch all 4 movies over and over. Can do without Live Free or Die Hard
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1:58PM on 02/14/2013

Lethal Weapon >>

I'll just start off by saying Martin Riggs is probably my favorite character ever, so this is really no contest to me. The first Die Hard is no doubt greatness and very well is considered a better movie by most than Lethal Weapon but there is no way any of the Die Hard sequels are better than Lethal Weapons.. People love to shit on LW3 but damn I love the last 30 minutes of that movie. Every time Riggs screams, " Im gonna eat your heart out!" , in that final fight scene I feel like yelling FUCK
I'll just start off by saying Martin Riggs is probably my favorite character ever, so this is really no contest to me. The first Die Hard is no doubt greatness and very well is considered a better movie by most than Lethal Weapon but there is no way any of the Die Hard sequels are better than Lethal Weapons.. People love to shit on LW3 but damn I love the last 30 minutes of that movie. Every time Riggs screams, " Im gonna eat your heart out!" , in that final fight scene I feel like yelling FUCK YA! Live Free didnt even feel like a Die Hard movie and to say it's better than Lethal Weapon 4 is blasphemous to me. People say Lethal Weapon 4 is too long and tried to be too funny, but it clearly was meant to be the end of the series and I think they went out with a damn good film and FINISHED THEIR STORY. Something Die Hard clearly can't say. All that being said, goddamn i miss old school action flicks!
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1:20PM on 02/14/2013
Lethal Weapon 4 was missing Riggs sweet mullet.
Lethal Weapon 4 was missing Riggs sweet mullet.
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+15
12:38PM on 02/14/2013

Live Free < Lethal Weapon 4

What planet are you from? Live Free was HORRIBLE in every possible way....... Lethal Weapon is a far better franchise. The only DH movies worth watching are 1 and 3.
What planet are you from? Live Free was HORRIBLE in every possible way....... Lethal Weapon is a far better franchise. The only DH movies worth watching are 1 and 3.
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+5
12:30PM on 02/14/2013

Lethal Weapon for sure

I think that objectively the original Die Hard is superior to the original Lethal Weapon (although that one's no slouch either), but I also think that objectively each of the Lethal Weapon sequels beats out the Die Hard sequels. Diehard got off to the better start, but the sequels have made Lethal Weapon overall the better series.
I think that objectively the original Die Hard is superior to the original Lethal Weapon (although that one's no slouch either), but I also think that objectively each of the Lethal Weapon sequels beats out the Die Hard sequels. Diehard got off to the better start, but the sequels have made Lethal Weapon overall the better series.
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+0
11:21AM on 02/14/2013

Lethal Weapon 3 is horrible.

Lethal Weapon 4 is more or less a return to form. Those last two match-ups are whack.
Lethal Weapon 4 is more or less a return to form. Those last two match-ups are whack.
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10:34AM on 02/14/2013
Still can't decide, but I'm swinging on Die Hard for the fact that John McClane handles shit on his own.
Still can't decide, but I'm swinging on Die Hard for the fact that John McClane handles shit on his own.
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+6
10:28AM on 02/14/2013
The Die Hard series was fantastic, but if there ever was an action series that could upstage it, it was Lethal Weapon. I disagree with putting LFODH over LW4 because there were just too many ludicrous moments in LFODH. Meanwhile, Lethal Weapon has always kept it real and outdid its opponent. In it's defense, LFODH was great casting Timothy Olyphant, this guy is sorely underrated.
The Die Hard series was fantastic, but if there ever was an action series that could upstage it, it was Lethal Weapon. I disagree with putting LFODH over LW4 because there were just too many ludicrous moments in LFODH. Meanwhile, Lethal Weapon has always kept it real and outdid its opponent. In it's defense, LFODH was great casting Timothy Olyphant, this guy is sorely underrated.
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10:15AM on 02/14/2013
First and foremost, the original Die Hard is one of my all time favorite movies. That being said, both franchises are 2 of my favorites. However, I disagree with the verdict here. The Lethal Weapon series has been more consistent them Die Hard. I especially think that Lethal Weapon 4 is a better movie than Live Free Or Die Hard. Both 3rd entries are a toss up but for me the tie breaker is the greatness of Lethal Weapon 2.
First and foremost, the original Die Hard is one of my all time favorite movies. That being said, both franchises are 2 of my favorites. However, I disagree with the verdict here. The Lethal Weapon series has been more consistent them Die Hard. I especially think that Lethal Weapon 4 is a better movie than Live Free Or Die Hard. Both 3rd entries are a toss up but for me the tie breaker is the greatness of Lethal Weapon 2.
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8:57AM on 02/14/2013

Lethal weapon : Martin Riggs

Iam a fan of both franchises but i watched Lethal weapon movies more repeat no.of times than Die hard films.i enjoy Lethal weapon films more.i like the action,comedy,Mel Gibson,Danny glover,joe pesci characters and the dialogues.Die hard films are great action films and Lethal weapon films are great action-comedy films
Iam a fan of both franchises but i watched Lethal weapon movies more repeat no.of times than Die hard films.i enjoy Lethal weapon films more.i like the action,comedy,Mel Gibson,Danny glover,joe pesci characters and the dialogues.Die hard films are great action films and Lethal weapon films are great action-comedy films
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8:39AM on 02/14/2013

love them both

Equally for what each of them were. I checked out after 2 on each of them because you can only keep with the unique premise of each for so long...they will never be duplicated in my mind.
Equally for what each of them were. I checked out after 2 on each of them because you can only keep with the unique premise of each for so long...they will never be duplicated in my mind.
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7:19AM on 02/14/2013
Tough to decide as I like both franchises but I'd have to go with Die Hard.
Tough to decide as I like both franchises but I'd have to go with Die Hard.
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6:26AM on 02/14/2013
Die Hard, no question. While I do enjoy the LETHAL WEAPON sequels, they got goofier and goofier with each new addition and Riggs became less bad-ass and more....goofy over time.
Die Hard, no question. While I do enjoy the LETHAL WEAPON sequels, they got goofier and goofier with each new addition and Riggs became less bad-ass and more....goofy over time.
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3:22AM on 02/14/2013

LETHAL WEAPON vs. DIE HARD

Both films are seminal and on equal ground in both quality and influence on the genre, but as a franchise, LETHAL WEAPON stands above DIE HARD.

Though DIE HARD 2 is undeniably enjoyable, it is really a textbook case for the unimaginative rehash sequel, reproducing almost every plot point of the original film. In essence, it's just a typical DIE HARD knock-off that is fortunate enough to carry the DIE HARD brand. On the flipside, LETHAL WEAPON 2 is the next thrilling chapter in the lives of
Both films are seminal and on equal ground in both quality and influence on the genre, but as a franchise, LETHAL WEAPON stands above DIE HARD.

Though DIE HARD 2 is undeniably enjoyable, it is really a textbook case for the unimaginative rehash sequel, reproducing almost every plot point of the original film. In essence, it's just a typical DIE HARD knock-off that is fortunate enough to carry the DIE HARD brand. On the flipside, LETHAL WEAPON 2 is the next thrilling chapter in the lives of Riggs and Murtaugh rather than a rehash, and even goes so far as to expand on Riggs' backstory in such a way that it only builds on the tragedy that defined his character in the original film. In addition, the film not only manages to be better than any of the DIE HARD sequels, but even surpasses its own predecessor!

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is the strongest sequel of the series, electing not to replicate the story points of the first film, but to instead echo its ruse. Like the original, the film is a highly clever heist plot disguised as a terrorist story for its first half. DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is also both gutsy and smart enough to change the dynamic of the formula by not putting McClane in just another wrong place at the wrong time. However, at its core, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is really just another LETHAL WEAPON clone (albeit a great one with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jacksons hilarious banter). Its no wonder that Jonathan Hensleigh's original spec script that eventually became DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE was originally considered to be adapted into a LETHAL WEAPON sequel. All that being said, the film is still stronger overall than the enjoyable LETHAL WEAPON 3, an installment that is a slight decline in quality, but still features a lot of strong elements: the interesting dynamic when Riggs meets a woman worth settling down with, and the single most heart wrenching moment of the series when Riggs and a drunk Murtaugh argue after tragedy strikes. This action blockbuster sequel even dares to add tragic consequences to its violence by having Murtaugh battle guilt after realizing that he shot his teenage sons friend in a shoot-out.

While LETHAL WEAPON 4 is indeed the weakest film of the franchisewith its action and comedic antics clearly outweighing the plot (most of the film was written while in production)it still remains true to the characters and the franchise, maintaining both the tone and style of the previous films (and yes, retains an R rating as well), but also picks up where LETHAL WEAPON 3 left off by further exploring Riggs struggle to return to a normal domestic life, as well as coming to grips with his ageputting him in the position that Murtaugh found himself in in the first film. Unfortunately, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD discards everything about its protagonist and the tone of the previous films, and is just a typical generic, dull action clone of the 2000s with its superhuman McClane, its over-the-top plot, CGI-laced action sequences, and the weakest villain of either franchise. Furthermore, while I will not judge A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD before I see it, its trailers look like more of the same in my opinion.

Given all of the drastic concept shifts over the course of the series, I suppose one could use the DIE HARD franchise to illustrate The Evolution of the Action Film or The Decline of the Action Film. Whichever way you choose to look at it. The LETHAL WEAPON series, however, managed to maintain a level of continuity and purity, even if the quality fluctuated in its later sequels. Therefore, while both DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON are incredible landmark films that forever influenced the action genre, LETHAL WEAPON is the superior franchise. Without question.
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12:35PM on 02/14/2013
Here, here. Props for showing that logic and objective analysis are your best resources in any debate, even if its on an online movie forum.
Here, here. Props for showing that logic and objective analysis are your best resources in any debate, even if its on an online movie forum.
6:33AM on 02/14/2013
Yeah, well said³
Yeah, well said³
3:46AM on 02/14/2013
Well said.
Well said.
3:46AM on 02/14/2013
Well said.
Well said.
3:45AM on 02/14/2013
Well said.
Well said.
3:21AM on 02/14/2013

Lethal Weapon

I love both franchises, but Lethal Weapon wins for me because their sequels were much better than Die Hards's sequels were. Also, I think Riggs is more of a badass than McClane.

Again, love both franchises, but I've always considered Lethal Weapon to be more superior than Die Hard.
I love both franchises, but Lethal Weapon wins for me because their sequels were much better than Die Hards's sequels were. Also, I think Riggs is more of a badass than McClane.

Again, love both franchises, but I've always considered Lethal Weapon to be more superior than Die Hard.
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2:27AM on 02/14/2013
Riggs all the way
Riggs all the way
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+4
2:03AM on 02/14/2013
I love every film in both franchises zits and all. It is a tie for me because I am equally invested in Riggs and Murtaugh as I am John McLane which is interesting because you don't get to spend as much time with McLane's family life as we did with Murtaugh's.
I love every film in both franchises zits and all. It is a tie for me because I am equally invested in Riggs and Murtaugh as I am John McLane which is interesting because you don't get to spend as much time with McLane's family life as we did with Murtaugh's.
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1:53AM on 02/14/2013
While the first 'Lethal Weapon' film is an all time favorite, the franchise goes down hill fast. 'Die Hard,' meanwhile, managed to stay true for three films, and fun for four, and didn't really hit the shit-pile until this new film (which, yes, I've seen, and it's atrocious). In order of quality: Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Lethal Weapon 2, Live Free or Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Lethal Weapon 3, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon 4.
While the first 'Lethal Weapon' film is an all time favorite, the franchise goes down hill fast. 'Die Hard,' meanwhile, managed to stay true for three films, and fun for four, and didn't really hit the shit-pile until this new film (which, yes, I've seen, and it's atrocious). In order of quality: Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Lethal Weapon 2, Live Free or Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Lethal Weapon 3, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon 4.
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+0
1:53AM on 02/14/2013

Interesting matchup

I would have scored them like this:

[x] Die Hard / Lethal Weapon [ ]
DH is a classic, but the first LW is less so, especially since it got outshined by its first sequel.

[ ] Die Hard 2 / Lethal Weapon 2 [x]
DH2 got mired with more silliness and plot contrivances, but LW2 blew us all away.

[x] Die Hard with a Vengeance / Lethal Weapon 3 [ ]
I give the point to DHwaV not because I thought it was good (just okay), but because LW3 was so very very bad. Out of all eight movies in
I would have scored them like this:

[x] Die Hard / Lethal Weapon [ ]
DH is a classic, but the first LW is less so, especially since it got outshined by its first sequel.

[ ] Die Hard 2 / Lethal Weapon 2 [x]
DH2 got mired with more silliness and plot contrivances, but LW2 blew us all away.

[x] Die Hard with a Vengeance / Lethal Weapon 3 [ ]
I give the point to DHwaV not because I thought it was good (just okay), but because LW3 was so very very bad. Out of all eight movies in this comparison, I consider LW3 to be the most forgettable.

[x] Live Free or Die Hard / Lethal Weapon 4 [ ]
This is a tougher call. LFoDH is an action flick of cartoonish proportions but it's still fun, despite the anti-climactic ending. LW4 has its moments but feels tamed down from previous installments. It's got Jet Li but you're right that he's underused. Chris Rock tries but he just looks uncomfortable playing a straight arrow cop. Both movies have their shortcomings, but I think LFoDH wins for the sheer spectacle.

So Die Hard franchise still wins. No tie breaker needed.
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