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Die Hard: Five Star Collection

Die Hard: The Ultimate Collection

  • Die Hard: Five Star Collection
  • Die Hard 2: Die Harder: Special Edition
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance: Special Edition
  • New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) flies into L.A. on Christmas Eve expecting a tense reunion with his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia). Their marital discord takes a back seat, however, when her office high-rise is besieged by ruthless international terrorists. Trapped in the skyscraper, McClane must stop them — single-handedly and without shoes. Die Hard is the modern action film in perfect execution, yet to be outdone since 1988. Willis' McClane takes the wisecracking hero prototype established by James Bond films and toughens him up into a blue-collar avenger, while Alan Rickman's take on villain Hans Gruber is uniquely controlled and chilling. Though the movie took the world by storm (and spawned two sequels), people forget how silly Die Hard looked on paper in 1988: It starred an unproven comic actor from a faddish TV show; it was helmed by a junior director (John McTiernan had Nomads and Predator under his belt); and it had that stupid car-battery pun of a title. But Die Hard has strength of story on its side, not to mention a certain genius of fusion — it took the 1970s disaster film, pureed it with '80s action-movie tropes (typified up to that point by Lethal Weapon) and single-handedly resurrected the "siege film," a genre last visited around, say, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. In fact, one could argue that this flick (along with maybe Blade Runner) had more influence on '90s Hollywood filmmaking than any other '80s film. But Die Hard endures beyond its many imitators because it also paid attention to the fundamentals. The movie juggles a large cast of quickly sketched characters with the skill of a 1940s comedy, for one thing. For another, the plotting's incredibly tight: Every bloody confrontation adds a new wrinkle to the plot — MacGuffins are seized, enemies learn something new about each other, stakes are raised. In other words, unlike so much of today's ADD-addled action cinema (hell, unlike its own sequels), Die Hard actually earns its suspense. Finally — and this is crucial — we get to know everyone before we blow them up. A full 18 minutes elapse before the movie's first gunshot; 23 minutes elapse before the terrorists meet their hostages and send McClane flying up the stairs barefoot. Fox's two-disc Die Hard: Five Star Collection, which replaces their previous single-DVD edition, features a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and audio in either DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1. As for extras, they're as dense and plentiful as what you'd find on any Criterion edition, though organized in a vastly more gee-whiz (and occasionally annoying) fashion. There are no fewer than three commentary tracks — one with director John McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia; another (scene-specific) track with special-effects whiz Richard Edlund, and a third, text-only track interviewing cast and crew. You'll also find "extended branching" featuring an expanded power-shutdown scene; deleted scenes and outtakes; raw newscast footage; magazine-article reprints from American Cinematographer and Cinefex; a scene-editing workshop; a "Multi-Camera Shooting" angle-button feature; an audio-mixing workshop; a remedial "Why Letterbox?" featurette; a glossary of technical/film-editing terms; a "Slide Show" with digressive presentations of outtakes, blueprints and behind-the-scenes footage; the complete screenplay; three theatrical trailers; seven TV spots; a 1988 "Video Press Pak" featurette; and DVD-ROM features. Dual-disc keep-case.
    —Alexandra DuPont

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