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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Die Hard 1
Die Hard 1
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Bruce Willis moved easily from the sitcoms such as "Moonlighting" to the action genre with one quick swoop as he starred in "Die Hard", a film that went on to be one of the biggest action hits ever. Like "Lethal Weapon", "Die Hard" is a classic and a classic example of the action films of the 80's.

In this, the first of the series, we're introduced to New York City detective John McClaine(Bruce Willis), an "everyman" hero thrown into a situation of serious trouble when he visits his wife for Christmas. While at the office party, a group of terrorists decide to pay a visit. The result is one of the most entertaining cat and mouse games in action film history. Willis is perfect for the role, giving it a great sarcastic sense of wild humor. Alan Rickman is also good as the head of the terrorist group Willis is up against.

"Die Hard" is directed by John McTiernan, a director talented(like Wolfgang Petersen or Tony Scott) at staging solid, entertaining action scenes. He does an excellent job keeping the chase throughout the skyscraper consistently thrilling. Although the director didn't come back to film the second in this film(Renny Harlin did a rare good job directing the sequel), but McTiernan came back for the 3rd and least successful film, "Die Hard With A Vengeance".

"Die Hard" is a classic thrill ride; the pace never lets up and there are some great performances by Willis and Rickman. Action scenes are plentiful and always wild. A classic movie.

The DVD:
Picture Quality: DVD can be so strange. You would think that the most recent of the "Die Hard" pictures would have the most impressive image quality. Nope. "Die Hard 3" had the worst image quality of the trilogy, followed by 2, which had a very decent transfer and, I'm amazed to say that I was most impressed with the very pleasing transfer for this, the first film in the series. Images are clear and wonderfully crisp(although an anamorphic transfer could have helped this disc a good deal). For the first film in the series, colors on this transfer are very nicely rendered; oranges and reds are very vivid and well saturated and once we're in the building, the steel blues of the interiors look excellent on this disc. Black level on this disc isn't flawless, but for the most part, it is definitely definitive. Throughout the disc, there are no problems no matter if it's a daylight or nighttime, or even just low-light scenes. Images in both of these situations hold up very nicely, with only a very, very tiny hint of grain in some of the dark scenes. Even in the darker scenes when McClaine is crawling through the vents of the building, images retain crispness and clarity. The only problem is that, occasionally, some of the images look a little on the dark side. Skin tones are generally good, although sometimes they don't look completely natural and realistic. The 2.35:1 transfer is spread across a dual-layer disc and although it's not perfect(an anamorphic transfer would clean up a few of the small problems with sharpness), this is a very pleasing presentation from Fox. It's too bad the 2nd and 3rd films couldn't have been presented quite this nicely. There are no major problems with compression artifacts and I didn't see any instances of "shimmering."

Audio Quality: Wonderfully fierce sound mix that has some solid, thrilling scenes of enveloping sound. There are more than enough outstanding scenes of action in this film and they all sound wonderful on this disc; gunfire is richly recorded and realistic; there are some scenes where I was ducking in my seat due to the realism of the effects. There are also some instances of forceful bass in scenes like when McClaine blows up an elevator shaft. Amibent noise is nicely integrated. Dialogue sounds clear and without distortion, but there are some instances where I didn't think it was loud enough.

Extras: Trailers for all 3 films, a small featurette and a photo gallery with about 15 photos.

Menus: Neat animated menus with sound as well as animated scene selection.

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