Die Hard (1988)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox Reissue)
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Overall Rating 83%
Overall Rating
Ranked #83
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Genres / Traits: Action Action Thriller Christmas

Connections: Die Hard

NYPD cop John McClane goes on a Christmas vacation to visit his wife Holly in Los Angeles where she works for the Nakatomi Corporation. While they are at the Nakatomi headquarters for a Christmas party, a group of robbers led by Hans Gruber take control of the building and hold everyone hostage, with the exception of John, while they plan to perform a lucrative heist. Unable to escape and with no immediate police response, John is forced to take matters into his own hands. --IMDb
Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis
Bonnie Bedelia
Bonnie Bedelia
Reginald VelJohnson
Reginald VelJohnson
Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason
De'voreaux White
De'voreaux White
Review by Chad
Added: August 30, 2007
We here at the M&V have been plowing through those lovable action flicks from the eighties over the last week or so, and it's been a damned fun ride all around. I mean, seriously - who doesn't love the Rambo series, and who didn't get a kick out of Last Action Hero? Yes, the eighties produced some classics in the genre, and it also produced some of the best action stars in the history of film. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Sylvester Stallone? Patrick Swayze? Well, maybe not Swayze, but Schwarzenegger and Stallone had enough combined testosterone to back up my statement quite nicely, thank you very much. However, whereas those two men filled the larger-than-life action roles better than any other man working then or now, nobody has even been able to play the everyman action hero quite as convincingly as Bruce Willis.

Plot? You mean you haven't seen Die Hard and need me to tell you about it? Well, you should just exit this page and go pick yourself up a copy, but for those of you who are looking for a refresher, here goes. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a New York cop who finds himself in California to visit his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) for Christmas. He visits her at her office, a high-rise building that is owned by an extremely wealthy Japanese man with extensive business connections, and everything is going good - well, as good as it can go when John finds out that his wife has dropped his last name.

That will soon be the least of his worries, however, as a group of German terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) have infiltrated the building, locked out the elevators, and have everyone trapped on the thirtieth floor of the building... everyone, that is, except for our law enforcement hero. Now, it's up to John to sneak around and foil the plans of those evil Germans, save as many hostages as possible, and ride off into the sunset with his little lady. Helping him out as best as possible from the outside is Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), a California cop who immediately senses that the man talking to him over CB radio is more than just some random weekend warrior, but will the two be able to overcome these terrorists?

What sets Die Hard apart from all of the other "blow-'em-up" action flicks of the eighties is the relative realism found within. Granted, watching a man rappelling down the side of a forty-story building using nothing more than a firehose isn't exactly the very definition of realism, but the characters and events are placed much more firmly in the real world than most other films of this nature. John McClane is an actual man who feels pain and is definitely a mortal, not an invincible killing machine who can shrug off bullets as though they were mere mosquitoes. This is the main thing that sets the film apart from the rest of the pack; mindless action flicks with invincible heroes certainly have their place, but a film like this is much more engaging for those of us living in the real world.

Now, with all of that said, there is a whole lot of great action sequences to be found here. You want massive explosions? How about bloody shoot-outs and brutal fist-fights, all complimented by some of the greatest one-liners of all time? Wait... how about the greatest one-liner of all time? You'll find that all here, and the special effects are amazing not just by eighties standards, but by today's as well. When John drops that stick of C4 down the elevator shaft, the resulting explosion is still a thing of beauty even when compared to the recent releases from the action genre - who says CGI is king?

A great character and excellent special effects can make for a damned entertaining night in front of the tube, but it's the cast members who really make a movie memorable. This is yet another area where the original Die Hard excels, as Bruce Willis is perfect in this type of role. It's hard to believe that he was fifth choice for the role; honestly, can you imagine Burt Reynolds or Richard Gere (who were both higher priorities than Willis during casting) delivering the infamous "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker" quote? I dare say that the film just wouldn't have been the same without Willis in this role, as nobody else could have built such a memorable, convincing character that is both vulnerable and badass at the same time. Then we have Alan Rickman as the villain of the film, and folks - this guy plays the villain perfectly. The man just oozes venom, and by the time you've seen him in just one or two scenes, you'll be eagerly awaiting the final showdown between him and Willis. That, my friends, is how you play a villain.

A classic film which deserves every bit of praise that it receives, pure and simple. 10/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 08/30/2007, 05:57 PM
This is, and I feel will always be the perfect action movie. 10/10
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 08/30/2007, 06:52 PM
This may very well be, the finest action movie I have ever seen. Willis is as badass as they come, and to see him and Rickman duke it out in, essentially, a battle of wits is legendary. I will NEVER get tired of this movie. I could watch it everyday, and still laugh my ass off, while cheering for Bruno to toss another left hook into the baddies. 10/10
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 08/30/2007, 06:57 PM
Don't think I love this film quite as much as you guys, but it is one of the best action films ever made. Alan Rickman is phenomenal, as always, and this is the role Bruce Willis will always be remembered for. Solid action flick -- highly entertaining. 9/10.
KING GRIEF #4: KING GRIEF - added 12/27/2009, 01:43 AM
this is the perfect action movie. im glad sly passed on this roll.
Lucid Dreams #5: Lucid Dreams - added 05/30/2010, 10:22 PM
Action movies of today need to watch this and take some fucking notes. 10/10
Nirrad #6: Nirrad - added 05/31/2010, 10:13 PM
Action movies of today need to watch Sylvester Stallone and take some fucking notes!
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