- Directors: Richard Donner
- Producers: Richard Donner, Joel Silver
- Writers: Screenplay, Jeffrey Boam, Story, Shane Black, Warren Murphy
- Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller
- Actors: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Joss Ackland, Derrick O Connor, Patsy Kensit, Steve Kahan
The story opens with LAPD Sergeants Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh engaged in a car chase with a red BMW. After it crashes, they move in to arrest the driver, but find he has escaped. Searching the car, they discover the trunk is full of South African Krugerrands (gold coins which were illegal in the U.S. due to sanctions against the South African apartheid regime). Later that night, Murtaugh is threatened at his home by thugs dressed in black hoods, warning him to cease the investigation around the Krugerrands.
In the wake of the attack on Murtaugh, he and Riggs are reassigned to a less dangerous task, protecting a Federal witness, Leo Getz (Joe Pesci). They subsequently discover Getz has been laundering funds for the same drug smugglers and he leads them to their base of operations, a house on stilts. Attempting to arrest the gang, Riggs and Murtaugh are confronted by Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland), the minister of affairs for the South African Consulate. Rudd indignantly invokes diplomatic immunity on behalf of himself and his ‘staff’, and threatens to report Riggs and Murtaugh to the State Department for violating South African soil.
Although ordered by the Department to leave Rudd and his associates alone, Riggs and Murtaugh are certain that he is the drug trafficker they are looking for and commence a private war against them. While Leo and Murtaugh distract the guards at the consulate, Riggs infiltrates the building and catches the name “Alba Varden”, a name that appears familiar somehow to Murtaugh. At the same time, Riggs begins a romance with Rudd’s secretary, Rika van den Haas (Patsy Kensit), who strongly dislikes both her boss and her country’s policies. Riggs invites her to a dinner at his trailer, which ends in a torrid sexual encounter.
Running to his partner, Murtaugh finds that, although critically wounded, Riggs is still alive. The two buddies laugh and joke as the sirens come for them in the background.