The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Die Hard (1988)

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I'm often asked this time of year what my favorite Christmas movie is, and my response is the same every time: Die Hard. The response to that is always "I never really thought of that as a Christmas movie." Well, you motherfucking should. I couldn't give a shit less about families and kids and grumpy old men discovering the true meaning of Christmas-- the true meaning of Christmas is Bruce Willis in his bloody bare feet gunning down stuntmen with German accents. "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."

Die Hard has Bruce Willis as cop John McClane, who comes out to LA from NYC to visit his wife on Christmas Eve. Problem is, German criminal mastermind Hans Gruber has decided to steal the $600 million worth of bonds locked away in a vault in the building his wife works at. While he's there changing into his party clothes, everyone she works with is taken hostage-- but he escapes. Now he's the fly in the ointment, the monkey in the wrench, the pain in the ass-- he's Hans' worst nightmare.

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As an action fan, there is before Die Hard and after Die Hard. The idea of having a guy in a building full of criminals and making him fight his way through them was born here, and no one, including the film's three sequels, were able to do it better. The mixture of action, explosions, great one-liners, and 80s excess, brought together with the amazing talents of Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, makes this one of the best movies of all time, and, at the very least, my favorite Christmas movie ever.

According to imdb, Willis was the fifth choice for the role of McClane. It's funny to think at the time that that seemed right, because until then he'd only really been in Moonlighting and some other comedic roles. The idea of him as an action hero didn't make much sense, and maybe after it doesn't make much sense either, but in Die Hard he was so perfect. Just one of those things where the fates were in our favor, because anyone else and Die Hard wouldn't be Die Hard.

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My favorite set of lines comes when Hans' men shoot rockets at the armored vehicle the cops send in to take them down. It goes something like "Hans you motherfucker you made your point, let them pull back!" "Okay Mr. Cowboy, I'll take it under advisement. Hit it again." I remember Jim Rome on his show quoted it as a metaphor for a Florida beatdown of Georgia, I think. There are so many other ones to choose from, though. Another one my friends and I used to do as a joke was "And the quarterback is toast!" That had to be like the geekiest cheesiest line ever. Thank you Clarence Gilyard jr. Also, if you're in for making your own one-liners, the terrorist who takes over the front desk looked a lot like Huey Lewis, so you could pretty much insert any Huey Lewis and the News title in when you see him.

What better Scrooge to have than Alan Rickman. I know he's playing a German, but the Brits always make the best baddies. Maybe it is that tradition of having one of the ultimate baddies, Mr. Scrooge, as a part of their legacy. Speaking of Brits, I wonder if anyone's made a Boxing Day movie. That would be awesome to have Rickman be a bad guy in that too. Seeing this again made me remember that I still need to see Snow Cake, which stars him and Sigourney Weaver. I just put it in my queue and realized it came out in 2006. Funny how a movie can be pushed aside for years like that without me even knowing it had been that long.

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Before I wrap this up, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the comedic interplay between two great actors, Reginald VelJohnson and Paul Gleason. RVJ you may be familiar with from the Perfect Strangers spin-off Family Matters, where he essentially plays the same character he played in Die Hard. Paul Gleason, of course, is Principle Vernon in The Breakfast Club. How can you not love both of these guys? The only thing that would've made this pairing better would've been if RVJ asked Gleason if "Barry Manilow knew [he] raided his wardrobe."

And there you have it, my favorite Christmas movie of all time. I don't call it the best, because I know some people prefer horror, sci-fi, or comedies, so there are probably films out there that they would enjoy more. For me, though, it just isn't Christmas without John McClane saying "Yippee ky-ay motherfucker!" So, I'd like to extend my own warmest yippee ky-ay motherfucker to you and yours this holiday season.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095016/

6 comments:

  1. Paul Gleason also gets one of the film's best, funniest lines after the helicopter full of FBI agents gets totaled, says, "We need more FBI guys." It's the way he says it which makes me laugh every time. Plus, you've also got Robert Davi as one of the FBI agents and plays him as such an arrogant prick that when he gets killed off you're almost glad.

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  2. I loved that line too. Gleason was full of great ones. The one about the dead guy thrown from the building being a depressed businessman was another. And Davi as one of Johnson and Johnson is something that's always been great, and I should've mentioned it.

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  3. I remember the first time I saw Die Hard. What a moment. Id never been so pulled in by an action film in my whole life.

    Its true what you say, with action films, its always before Die Hard (B.D.H.) and After Die Hard (A.D.H.). After Die Hard, ever other action film was like Die Hard...for example:

    Under Siege (Die Hard on a Boat)
    Passenger 57 (Die Hard on a Plane)
    Under Siege (Die Hard on a Train)
    Sudden Impact (Die Hard in a Stadium)

    And the list goes on...

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  4. What galled me about Die Hard 4 was how they missed the concept of the original. It's like taking an 18th century colonial mansion, and gutting out the insides and replacing it with modern accouterments, and tearing off the roof and adding ten stories to it. What's great about movies, though, is we can go back and live in the house as it was originally intended to be built, long before it was ruined with tacky modernity.

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  5. we're doing a die hard ripoff month, you know, all those die-hard-on-a-___ movies.

    http://saturdaynightscreening.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/die-hard-on-a-blog/

    i found quite a bit of movies but i'm curious if there's anything that i missed that should be included. would love to hear you guys' recommendations. good, bad, unforgettable, so bad it's good...etc.

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  6. I can think of a few. Top of the World is Die Hard at a casino, and has a great cast; and then there's Virtual Assassin aka Cyberjack, which is a futuristic Die Hard in a corporate lab. There's also Dolph's Command Performnace, or Die Hard at a Russian pop concert, with Dolph as a drummer.

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