Aah, Gary Busey- a man who appears to be as gloriously unhinged offscreen as he is on. In early film roles Busey was a sheer delight to watch, mostly because his nuttiness, like the smell of pizza at Costco, permeates every scene in which he appears. In the film Lethal Weapon, audiences might have assumed that the craziest character featured would be the suicidal and reckless Vietnam veteran and LAPD officer Martin Riggs, played by Mel Gibson. They were wrong. When drug dealer Mr. Mendez (played by actor Ed O’Ross, who embodied an excellent jerk called “Viktor Rosta” in the 1980’s bargain bin masterpiece Red Heat (1988)) goes to the crooked General McAllister to make a heroin deal, he encounters McAllister’s bizarre bulldog of a henchman, the gloriously brain fried mercenary “Mr. Joshua.”
After Mr. Joshua materializes at McAllister’s elbow looking all bug-eyed with Rutger Hauer-style bleached blonde hair, O’Ross delivers the fantastic line: “Where the hell did you get him, “Psychos R Us?”” The scene gets even weirder when Mendez is forced to hold his flaming lighter under Mr. Joshua’s left forearm, proving Mr. Joshua’s unflinching, lip-curled loyalty to the General. Poor Mendez will probably never answer the question: “Do you smoke?” in quite the same way again.
At the climax of the film, Riggs dramatically fights Mr. Joshua in the fire hydrant-showered front yard of his partner Roger Murtaugh’s suburban home. War veteran Martin Riggs is more than an equal opponent for the crazy Mr. Joshua, and is also trained in lethal hand-to-hand combat (he’s a lethal weapon, get it?). Since McAllister and Mr. Joshua had kidnapped family man Murtaugh’s oldest daughter and tortured both Riggs and Murtaugh a few scenes before, the audience is begging for Riggs to make Mr. Joshua into road pizza. Even the level headed and law-abiding Sergeant Murtaugh is screaming: “C’mon Riggs, break his f***ing neck!” during the epic lawn battle.
When Thunderdome is occurring somebody’s front yard and the police allow it, you really know that this guy really is an off-the-charts jerk. Murtaugh addresses the vanquished Mr. Joshua thusly: “Get this sh** off my lawn.” Totally!