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DIE HARD - The Essential Action Franchise

post #1 of 264
Thread Starter 
I'm surprised we didn't have one sooner. Let's get the ball rolling...

DIE HARD:

- The introduction of Bruce Willis, where the likes of Eastwood and Burt Reynolds was on tap to play the lead.

- Great action that still holds up.

- The rooftop scene is hands down my fav: How the fuck is he going to escape/survive?

- No shoes.

- Al Leong: A sexy beast of a henchmen.

DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER

- The cockpit scene w/ the grenades is another: How the fuck is he going to escape/survive?

- Art Evans, a cute lil' helper buddy.

- Renny Harlin showed promise.

- The twist by John Amos. Damn, I didn't see it coming.

- Val Verde was name dropped.

DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE

- Sam Jackson - What ma'fucka?

- Simon Says, the game was a neat decoy.

- I might be forgetting: How the fuck is he going to escape/survive?

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD

- Len Wiseman needs to be shot and his fine-ass wife auctioned off to someone who can direct an action movie worth a damn.
post #2 of 264
A staple of my adolescence. Unfortunately, my fanboy blind spot can only go so far, and that's too bad for Len Wiseman.

I get to see Die Hard in 70mm in March. I'm excited...
post #3 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForsakenNoMore View Post
You're absolutely right. Who doesn't love Bob "Genghis" Khan?
post #4 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninhead View Post
You're absolutely right. Who doesn't love Bob "Genghis" Khan?

His hesitant stealing of the Nestle Crunch Bar is a highlight of DIE HARD for me... has there ever been another Action film with villains who are so damn likeable?

Hell, even Karl is made more sympathetic and respectable than Ellis or Thornberg.
post #5 of 264
I saw "Live Free" for the first time a few months ago. It's not even substantial enough to be shit, it's rim splatter. All of the DINO talk was absolutely spot on.
post #6 of 264
Scoring the breaking into the vault with Beethoven's Ode to Joy, I think even the filmmakers were rooting for the bad guys.
post #7 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Scoring the breaking into the vault with Beethoven's Ode to Joy, I think even the filmmakers were rooting for the bad guys.
They are. McTiernan says he wanted to avoid them being real terrorists with an actual political agenda because he felt that it'd stop being fun at that point, they wouldn't be characters that you'd want to spend a lot of time with. Smart move, really.
post #8 of 264
Essential Action Franchise? I'm not sure. Die Hard, however, is certainly awesome and is one of the most well-made and influential action movies of all time. McTiernan and Jan de Bont really changed the game with that film. It's just about as perfect of a movie as you can get. Also, it's a Christmas classic, and in my family it's tradition to watch Die Hard when we get together for Christmas.

2 is fun, though ultimately kind of not good; I still enjoy it, though. 3 is a big improvement and is a really solid film. Even though it didn't start out as a Die Hard movie, I do like how it brought McClain out of the confined spaces of 1 and 2 and into a bigger world (though Manhattan is a pretty confined space, itself).

I have yet to see 4, and from what I've heard I'm just going to go on pretending it doesn't exist.
post #9 of 264
Asian Dawn?
I read about them in Time magazine.

Will they release them?
Who cares.

The first DH is just filled with funny throwaway moments that just kill. It's hard to believe that nobody had ever even heard of Alan Rickman before this film.
post #10 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
The first DH is just filled with funny throwaway moments that just kill.
"I'm Agent Johnson, this is Special Agent Johnson. No relation"
post #11 of 264
I love that Karl and Theo have made this bet on whether Takagi would cooperate or eat a bullet first. It's just so wonderfully casual the way Karl has this "ah, fuck it" look it on his face when he hands Theo the cash while Takagi's brains get some air.
post #12 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMushnik View Post
"I'm Agent Johnson, this is Special Agent Johnson. No relation"
There's a great gag later where Robert Davi's on the phone and he says, "This is Special Agent Johnson...no, the *other* one."

I got to see the original "Die Hard" again in the theater last summer. It still eats every other action movie's lunch.
post #13 of 264
I think my favorite little moment in the first Die Hard is when they offer Ellis a coke and when they bring him the can, there's this slightly bummed look on Hart Bochner's face.
post #14 of 264
The early parts of the film do such a great job of establishing the geography of the building. You get a pretty good tour of the offices, and McClane's initial run through the upper floors lays everything out nicely. I'm thinking of the "Hello girls" moment when he sees the centerfolds again. We recognize it right along with him, so we're as much in the building as he is. It's not just a random collection of identical corridors and staircases. It's almost a character in itself.
post #15 of 264
DIE HARD is a masterpiece of action geography. There is never a moment when you don't know where someone is in relation to someone else. Films have seriously lost that with this damn shaky-cam business and it pisses me off.
post #16 of 264
Not much to add. I even like things that look like mistakes: does Hans really have to repeat "Shoot the glass!" in English for Karl to get it? And USC and Notre Dame playing football on Christmas Eve?

And the "Who cares?" line that Judas cites is a case of Rickman's delivery being perfection. I also love the "keycard scene" with his wordless survey through the glass door of the lobby before running the keycard and sealing the building shut.

I'm more sympathetic to 4 than most folks here, but I won't disagree with anyone who hates it. 2 is better than most sequels. It took a second viewing of 3 for me to really fall in love with it, precisely because it diverged so much from the formula (and I hated the linking of Irons' character with the first film), but fall in love I did.

And the first Die Hard remains my wife's preferred movie to wrap Christmas presents by.

ETA: Couple other notes.

On the "Ode to Joy": It might be just a coincidence, but during the 70's, Beethoven's 9th became a Christmas staple in Japan, much as "Messiah" is in England and America, thus making it the ideal holiday theme for the Nakatomi building (by the way, one of my brothers worked in a law office in the actual building used for the exteriors while the film was being shot). The use of "Finlandia" in the second film is, I assume, just a bit of self-reference by Harlin.

I'm also sure that I read (or heard on a commentary?) that. structurally, McTiernan thought of Hans as the film's protagonist.
post #17 of 264
I don't think With a Vengeance changes the formula all that much. He's still trapped in a location, it just happens to be Manhattan.
post #18 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
The first DH is just filled with funny throwaway moments that just kill. It's hard to believe that nobody had ever even heard of Alan Rickman before this film.
My absolute favorite little character moment is when the cops finally do show up and Rickman has to calm his goons by telling them that police action is inevitable and "as it happens, necessary." He says that last line with just the slightest uptick of a smile, and it fucking kills me every time. It's such a perfect dilution of the character.
post #19 of 264
I like DH:WaV just fine up until the ending. The resolution just kinda happens; it feels like an ad-libbed 'how do we end this' type of situation that is pretty unsatisfying.
post #20 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Banks is my hero View Post
My absolute favorite little character moment is when the cops finally do show up and Rickman has to calm his goons by telling them that police action is inevitable and "as it happens, necessary."
And that's a neat little "Huh?" moment at first, because you have no idea what he means. Then you see all the pieces fall in place with "You asked for a miracle, gentlemen, I give the F. B. I.", which is probably my favorite Gruber line in the whole film.
post #21 of 264
Let me defend LFODH. Yes, it isn't a true "Die Hard" movie. Technically it could have starred any random super-cop rather than McClane. But the movie, at least the Unrated cut, is a ton of fun. If you forget that it's linked to the DH franchise and just watch it as a balls to the wall, unbelievable action movie you may just like it. I do, a lot.

After recently re-watching DH1 during Christmas (as I do every year) I realized one of the reasons it is so damn good. It doesn't really have one of those late 80s vibes that tarnish a lot of other action films at the time. Outside of Holly's hair and the Japanese business takeover of America angle nothing in it really screams the 80s. Which is good and helps make it a classic that can be watched time and time again.
post #22 of 264
What tickles me about Hans Gruber is that I imagine him in the underground terrorist community, picking up a contact here, a contact there, learning tactics, and then him meeting his crew, who were probably members of other terrorist organizations at the time and saying, "Fuck all this. We're going to get rich." I'd like to see how all that happened. (No, not really, just fun to think about.)
post #23 of 264
My favorite story about filming Die Hard is when they did Gruber's death scene. They told Rickman they would drop him on three, but they dropped him on two to get a better, more authentic reaction. He was PISSED afterwards. And yet it led to one of the most beautiful "Oh, SHIT!" faces in all of film.
post #24 of 264
Hey, it could have been worse -- they could have dropped him with no safety equipment at all and gotten a really good reaction.
post #25 of 264
True. Incidentally, I'm seeing a lot of (thoroughly deserved) praise for Rickman, but not for Willis, when he really should be getting some, as should the character of McClane. He's a perfect everyman, and just competent enough that we can buy him being able to take down terrorists, yet also fallible/lucky enough so that it doesn't look easy. Willis himself is just great, muttering constantly about how insane everything is like anyone else would, and this is perhaps the purest distillation of the Bruce Willis persona. Without him, as great as Rickman is, the picture wouldn't work.
post #26 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post
I like DH:WaV just fine up until the ending. The resolution just kinda happens; it feels like an ad-libbed 'how do we end this' type of situation that is pretty unsatisfying.
It really falls apart once they get on the boat and that weak climax kills it. I actually think the climax of LFoDH, ridiculous as it is, works a little better.

Die Hard 2 never gets enough love. It's damn entertaining and a worthy follow-up to the great original.
post #27 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny View Post
I love that Karl and Theo have made this bet on whether Takagi would cooperate or eat a bullet first. It's just so wonderfully casual the way Karl has this "ah, fuck it" look it on his face when he hands Theo the cash while Takagi's brains get some air.
And before that, when Theo mutters "I told you so..."-- the wonderfully annoyed look on Rickman's face as he realizes what they're doing.

And, yeah, it's too easy to take Willis for granted: McClane really is an iconic performance that makes the film. I think the difference is that Willis is being allowed to create McClane in his own image, whereas Rickman is being asked to play the suave supervillain that we've seen a hundred times in other films, and he's constantly finding variations on it that transcend the genre.
post #28 of 264
I love Die Hard and With a Vengeance but I honestly think Die Harder is just kind of dull. There's no tension to Willis trundling around the airport and it means that the movie feels like it lurches from vaguely anti-climatic fight scene to vaguely anti-climatic fight scene.
post #29 of 264
A question on DH2: DH -

Can someone please explain to me why, when the tower is told that they will have a minute to communicate with their airplanes before getting shut down, they don't send them all to other airports. Why place them into a holding pattern?

Apart from that little nitpick, I really enjoy the film.
post #30 of 264
i cant be alone in the love for Willis and his "politcally incorrect" sign at the start of DHWaV, right?
That whole sequence is a great way to start things.
post #31 of 264
In the TV version his sign says "I hate everyone". You can see why this is particularly dangerous in Harlem.

At least we didn't get this ending for WITH A VENGEANCE (from imdb): The 2003 R1 DVD version includes the original ending showing McClane and Simon playing a game of 'chicken' with a rocket launcher. In this original version, Simon Gruber and his crew get away with the gold and months later, McClane tracks Simon down in Eastern Europe (where in Europe is debated: McClane mentions Germany, but people in the background are heard speaking Hungarian) The number on the bottom of the aspirin bottle (at the phone booth) leads McClane to Gruber. The gold was turned into small miniatures of the Empire State building and smuggled out of the country. McClane is thrown off the force, with the police thinking that he may actually be involved in the heist. The "game" that McClane and Simon play is about riddles that McClane tells Simon, and he is supposed to figure out the answer, or McClane will force him to fire a rocket launcher with its directional arrows removed, so neither will know which direction it will fire in until it is actually fired. The scene climaxes with McClane forcing Simon at gunpoint to fire the rocket launcher, which kills Simon, and McClane is revealed to be wearing a flak-jacket, which would have saved his life if the rocket launcher had fired at him instead of Simon. The studio objected to the ending, saying that it made McClane too cruel and heartless, whereas screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh stated that that was exactly the point: to show that McClane had been pushed over the edge by the events of that day, and then subsequently losing everything as a result of Simon.
post #32 of 264
I still like that ending better.
post #33 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rando View Post
In the TV version his sign says "I hate everyone". You can see why this is particularly dangerous in Harlem.

At least we didn't get this ending for WITH A VENGEANCE (from imdb): The 2003 R1 DVD version includes the original ending showing McClane and Simon playing a game of 'chicken' with a rocket launcher. In this original version, Simon Gruber and his crew get away with the gold and months later, McClane tracks Simon down in Eastern Europe (where in Europe is debated: McClane mentions Germany, but people in the background are heard speaking Hungarian) The number on the bottom of the aspirin bottle (at the phone booth) leads McClane to Gruber. The gold was turned into small miniatures of the Empire State building and smuggled out of the country. McClane is thrown off the force, with the police thinking that he may actually be involved in the heist. The "game" that McClane and Simon play is about riddles that McClane tells Simon, and he is supposed to figure out the answer, or McClane will force him to fire a rocket launcher with its directional arrows removed, so neither will know which direction it will fire in until it is actually fired. The scene climaxes with McClane forcing Simon at gunpoint to fire the rocket launcher, which kills Simon, and McClane is revealed to be wearing a flak-jacket, which would have saved his life if the rocket launcher had fired at him instead of Simon. The studio objected to the ending, saying that it made McClane too cruel and heartless, whereas screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh stated that that was exactly the point: to show that McClane had been pushed over the edge by the events of that day, and then subsequently losing everything as a result of Simon.
Thats fucking awful.
post #34 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rando View Post
The scene climaxes with McClane forcing Simon at gunpoint to fire the rocket launcher, which kills Simon, and McClane is revealed to be wearing a flak-jacket, which would have saved his life if the rocket launcher had fired at him instead of Simon.
I'm thinking maybe not.
post #35 of 264
I wonder if I can get that DVD from Netflix. I really want to see if that scene is as bad as it's described.
post #36 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moltisanti View Post
I still like that ending better.
Me too. While tonally it's a square peg in a round hole, thematically it would have fit perfectly.
post #37 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rando View Post
I wonder if I can get that DVD from Netflix. I really want to see if that scene is as bad as it's described.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSVwuFsiZv4
post #38 of 264
I revisited the second film on Christmas Eve and still found it enjoyable. One thing that is bothersome about the climax is how it follows the standard action movie trope of the villains attacking the hero one at a time. McClane can barely hold his own against John Amos, and bizarrely, William Sadler waits until his mentor's been shredded before he joins the fray. The two of them together could've handed McClane his ass instead of risking that he'd get in a lucky blow and kill one or both of them.

Who's everyone's favorite bureaucrat? I think it's a pretty tough call between Paul Gleason and Dennis Franz in movies one and two, respectively.
post #39 of 264
Has anyone ever read the original 'Simon Says' script upon which DH:WaV is based? I'm curious what changes they had to make for it (apart from the obvious name changes) to make it a DH installment.
post #40 of 264
The Die Hard 4-packwas one of the first Blu Ray purchases I made.

Love the first one to death, it's almost up there with Ghostbusters as one of my "Perfect Movies"

I always have trouble getting through #2, it just seems off.

DHWAV was the first one I saw in a theatre and even with the tacked on ending it was great. The alternate ending is bad...really bad.

I caught LFoDH on FX a few weeks ago and aside from the part with Kevin Smith, McClane surfing on the planes wing and the completly throw away french guy who goes through the fan. I liked it. I realize it gets a ton of hate and I know I'm in the minority. But I like it better than DH:2.
post #41 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by JudgeSmails View Post
Let me defend LFODH. Yes, it isn't a true "Die Hard" movie. Technically it could have starred any random super-cop rather than McClane. But the movie, at least the Unrated cut, is a ton of fun. If you forget that it's linked to the DH franchise and just watch it as a balls to the wall, unbelievable action movie you may just like it. I do, a lot.

After recently re-watching DH1 during Christmas (as I do every year) I realized one of the reasons it is so damn good. It doesn't really have one of those late 80s vibes that tarnish a lot of other action films at the time. Outside of Holly's hair and the Japanese business takeover of America angle nothing in it really screams the 80s. Which is good and helps make it a classic that can be watched time and time again.
I do not see how the "unrated" cut is any more fun than the original. It is insulting! All of McClane's cussing is awkwardly dubbed so they can shoehorn it in whenever McClane is facing away from the camera. What a dogs breakfast of a movie!
post #42 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Banks is my hero View Post
I fucking love that ending. I can understand why the studio didn't want to have anything to with it, but I would have loved to see the story end that way.
post #43 of 264
The alternate isn't perfect, especially compared to the Gruber-drop from the original and lighting the fuel streak in DH2, but the ending as is in WITH A VENGEANCE just lacks panache.
post #44 of 264
The problem with the theatrical ending to "Die Hard With a Vengeance" is that it doesn't really feel like McClane is in any real danger and is in fact a better shot that Martin Riggs on his best day. There's no real tension at the climax. It's just more a matter of killing the badguys, so the audience can go home.

What's great about the first two films is that if McClane fails, his wife will die; they're high-stakes climaxes. With Holly out of the equation, there just isn't as much dramatic punch to the proceedings and they feel perfunctory.
post #45 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradito View Post

Who's everyone's favorite bureaucrat? I think it's a pretty tough call between Paul Gleason and Dennis Franz in movies one and two, respectively.
Franz lets McClane deliver 2's best WTF? insult: "What sets off the airport metal detectors first, the lead in your ass or the shit in your brain?"
post #46 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan "Nordling" Cerny View Post
What tickles me about Hans Gruber is that I imagine him in the underground terrorist community, picking up a contact here, a contact there, learning tactics, and then him meeting his crew, who were probably members of other terrorist organizations at the time and saying, "Fuck all this. We're going to get rich." I'd like to see how all that happened. (No, not really, just fun to think about.)
I think we already know what happened...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperator GAC
Hans and Karl in a bar in Stuttgart.

Hans: You think we need one more?

Karl: ....

Hans: I think we need one more, we'll get one more.

Karl... How about that little asian guy in the corner there sporting the fu manchu?

Hans: I'm on board with that. Now, how do we disengage the electro magnetic lock...
post #47 of 264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb View Post

I'm also sure that I read (or heard on a commentary?) that. structurally, McTiernan thought of Hans as the film's protagonist.
I believe it was on the text commentary on the DVD. I learned a lot from that text commentary.
post #48 of 264
Colonel Stuart's plan hinged on there being a massive snow storm the night they fly esperanza in. If it didn't snow, all the planes would've made landings using visual cues like Holly's plane does at the end and he wouldn't have had any leverage.

It's weak, but I still likke DH2 and usually leave it on if I find it on TBS.

My problem with WaV is that Simon and crew make away with the gold all too easily. There's like 5 guys guarding the federal reserve, 2 of whom seem to resort to panic way too easily. Also, the ending alludes to the fact that a major gun battle was about to happen, but then everyone just dropped all thier guns when Simon is killed. I would imagine all those guys who were just cheering him on would be pissed and go all out on the cops at that point. It's just too rushed an ending.
post #49 of 264
My favourite scene of Die Hard: With A Vengence is McClaine and Zeus falling down the cable. The "AGHHH" sound Jackson makes is so cute. Especially the way he drags McClaine down.
post #50 of 264
I don't have much to add apart from my opinion that the first Die Hard is the best action movie in the history of cinema. If I happen to catch even a moment of it on TV, I invariably end up watching the rest.
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