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Lethal Weapon has a hidden John Wayne reference

The classic '80s action movie Lethal Weapon contains a secret John Wayne reference, and we guarantee you haven't spotted it until now

Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon

Lethal Weapon is up there with the best ’80s movies, and the success of the movie spawned a subsequent franchise including a TV series and action movie sequels. But did you know that the buddy-cop comedy movie has a secret John Wayne reference?

Starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, the movie follows the story of two very different cops as they work to unravel a murder case that becomes much bigger – and more dangerous – than they initially suspected. It’s a classic for a reason, and the thriller movie is overflowing with action and pulse-raising sequences.

One of those sequences is a direct reference to John Wayne. Speaking to The New York Times in 1987, the director of the movie Richard Donner reflected on his inspiration for Lethal Weapon. He mentioned re-watching John Wayne movies, and says that one scene is a direct reference to Wayne’s Red River.

Donner said “I idolise old westerns. When I read this, I did a lot of research on the good old John Wayne films. In the fight at the end, between Mel Gibson and Gary Busey, John Wayne fans will recognise some punches right out of ‘Red River.”

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If you’re creating an action movie with some good fight scenes, you can do much, much worse than looking to John Wayne for inspiration. As one of the best Westerns of all time, Red River is a treasure trove of inspiration so it isn’t wholly surprising to see the director looking to the movie for assistance.

If you enjoy Westerns, check out our guide to the best Clint Eastwood movies of all time.