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Die Hard With A Vengeance
Special Edition

review by Zach B.



Rated R

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 124 minutes

Starring Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson

Written by Jonathan Hensleigh

Directed by John McTiernan

Retail Price: $29.98

Disc One - Audio Commentary with Director John McTiernan, Writer Jonathon Hensleigh and former Fox President of Distribution and Marketing Tom Sherak, THX Optimode

Disc Two - Featurette And Television Specials, Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary, Behind The Scenes And Storyboards, Interview With Bruce Willis, Villian's Profile, Visual Effect Breakdowns, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captioning, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (26 Chapters), Two-Disc Set, THX Certified

Released: July 10th, 2001
Also part of the "Die Hard - The Ultimate Collection" set

Ah, franchises. Where would we be without them? Take a successful movie, then a sequel that lives up or doesn't live up to it and then create future installments with everyone's favorite characters to piss off the critics and rack in the dough. Thankfully, "Die Hard With A Vengeance" didn't just rack in the dough but scored nicely with the critics too. And there's only one returning character, but mentions of some old favorites. It's quite a fun movie that really entertains and puts the "Die Hard" saga in a different direction.

The third installment takes place a few years after "Die Hard 2" where McClane is back in New York. It's not Christmas Eve again, but like always, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is having a bad day (and a terrible hangover) and not immediatley prepared to deal with the bad. Once again, McClane is having problems with the wife and even with his job, as he has been suspended from the police force. However, a mysterious man named Simon (who has a connection with an old favorite Die Hard character and played fantasticly by Jeremy Irons) wants to play a few games with John McClane or else he threatens to comit a horrible act. McClane is soon forced to wear a racist sign in the middle of Harlem, where he's befriended by the racist Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson who's good as always). It's up the two to stop Simon from stealing billions of dollars worth of gold while the two faces plenty of challanges along the way in a really limited amount of time courtesy of Simon.

It seems with each "Die Hard" film they just add more and more on to what the previous brought, and that's truly an excellent thing. It's rare for a film series to do that, and I'm quite glad that the "Die Hard" films manage that. The first "Die Hard" had a time factor, but there wasn't a specific amount. "Die Hard 2" brought a shorter amount of time within the whole idea of the planes and now "Die Hard With A Vengeance" makes the time limit a hell lot shorter. It also features a lot more then a single event, as these events keep leading to another in some really small time. Also, each movie keeps adding more and more action.

McTiernan offers some truly excellent direction, even reuniting a good amount of people from the original "Die Hard" team. McTiernan keeps the action and pace snappy, and really packs on some fantastic sequences and plenty of thrills. Like all the other "Die Hard" films, the editing is truly excellent so you won't be missing anything. This film also features some great sounds and stunt sequences to really put you on the edge of your seat.

The acting here is top notch. Willis as McClane does justice to the role and what the character is going through, not to mention his great chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson. Jeremy Irons

While this movie isn't based on a book like the previous two "Die Hard" films, it manages to create quite an atmosphere and story. While Steven E. de Souza didn't return to co-write the script and help shape it, Johnathon Hensleigh does one fine job. He originally wrote the script as a movie called "Simon Says", but it was adjusted and he was "thrilled" when he learned it would become the next "Die Hard" movie. While the first two movies were confined to a single area basically, here Hensleigh takes us all over New York. It's truly a breath of fresh air and gives more expansions. It's truly a change of pace and fits McClane well.

If there are any complaints I have with "Die Hard With A Vengeance" it's that it does feel out of place with the other two films. Don't get me wrong, I love it and I just mentioned the originality and what it brings, but this was supposed to be something else. I was disappointed to see McClane the only one returning despite the mentions of other characters, it just feels a little weird. Also, some may argue that Simon's challanges are incredibly far-fetched and it's amazing how he coordinates everything. This is true, but it's really damn entertaining. If you were a fan of the first two "Die Hard" movies, you're sure to love this entry. If you weren't, this won't change your mind. Still, it brings some interesting new things to a tired-and-true genre.

"Die Hard With A Vengeance" may rank as Fox's sharpest transfer ever, or at least the sharpest I've seen of theirs. It's certainly one of their best ever, and that's saying a lot. The THX certified transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical exhibition, that being 2.35:1. This transfer is anamorphic and the result is splendid. Blacks are deep and solid, not to mention the bold and well-saturated colors. Detail is fantastic and the intense visuals of the film truly come to life with this transfer. I barely noticed any grain, if any. Still, it's sadly not perfect. Blemishes and scratches pop up now and then, as well as some noise. There's also some slight edge enhancment. Other then those annoyances, it's a real winner.

Sweet mother of crap! "Die Hard With A Vengeance" features reference quality audio that is sure to blow your speakers out right from the start. Since I guess sound systems became more developed by 1995, more powerful mixes could be created. Fidelity is a lot higher on all the tracks as the sounds are incredibly rich. The film features DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, as well as English and French Dolby Surround tracks. The DTS 5.1 track has the slightest edge, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 is still really impressive. Surrounds flood your speaks and enevelope nicely, not to mention the kick ass .1 LFE extension. The opening explosion, the great score which builds tension and all the action sequences (especially the taxi cab ride) bring so much life to the film. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear and all the great sounds are at balance so nothing overpowers anything else. Enjoy them! English closed captions, English subtitles and Spanish subtitles are included.

"Die Hard With a Vengeance" is a packed two-disc special edition that will please anyone. While not as many features at the first "Die Hard", it has enough stuff that makes it quite a worthwhile value.

The first disc has THX Optimode, the usual Fox DVD Video Promo spot at the start and a Audio Commentary with Director John McTiernan, Writer Jonathan Hensleigh and former Fox President of Distribution and Marketing Tom Sherak. This track is obviously edited, but it flows incredibly well that you may not think so. Hensleigh talks about how his script "Simon Says" became the movie "Die Hard With A Vengeance" in addition to his thoughts on the film. McTiernan tells us that he's the type of filmmaker who doesn't like to re-watch his work until several years have gone by. He thinks he didn't do such a good job on the film but admits to us he's surprised how good it actually came out to him. Sherak's comments are limited, but stiill interesting. A very good and informative track, though it can be a bit dry.

The second disc is where the real bonus materials start to kick in. The Featurette And Television Specials section has three things to watch. The Behind The Scenes: Die Hard With A Vengeance is another HBO First-Look sort of deals that's in full frame and lasts nearly twenty-two minutes. Reginald VelJohnson (yay!) who was in the first two "Die Hard" films hosts this making-of featurette. There's some fun sketch material (and "Family Matters" is off the air now) in addition to film clips, behind-the-scenes footage and a slew of interviews with McTiernanan, Irons, Andrew Vajna (executive producer), Samuel L. Jackson, Graham Greene, Larry Byrggman and Bruce Willis himself among others. It's fun to watch but in the end it's pretty promo. The four minute Feautrette is a really trimmed down version of this used for the EPK while A Night To Die For/McClane Is Back is another twenty-two minute featurette that was originally broadcasted on CBS for some reason. Samuel L. Jackson hosts it and features clips from the film and more fluff interviews. Yet the real meat and fun here is the look back at the first two Die Hard films with clips from those films, interviews about them and where celebrities chat about some stuff that deal with the films. A nicely put together featurette.

The Alternate Ending has optional commentary with Jonathan Hensleigh. It's in rough non-anamorphic widescreen and while I liked the ending, it does feel a bit out of place. Hensleigh takes us through the scene, how he's glad how it actually turned out and does explain why it was cut. I heard stuff about the executives not liking it, but Hensleigh thankfully expands on that and disagrees with the ultimate desicion. Don't miss it. It lasts six minutes.

Behind The Scenes And Storyboards section features some featurettes and storyboards. Three featurettes are shown: "Terror In The Subway" (nine minutes), "Prepping The Park" (ten minutes) and "Blowing Up Bonwit" (eight minutes). Each features interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the films on how those sequences are accomplished. Each go into some really nice depth on how they were accomplished. Meanwhile, the "Storyboards" part goes back and forth between the underground final film and the storyboards for the sequence.

Interview And Profile is divided up into two sections: a Interview With Bruce Willis features clips from the movie, behind the scenes footage and a on the set interviews with Willis, McTiernan and some others. It's basically rehash from the other featurettes. The Villian's Profile is four minutes and has film clips, a load of more fluff interviews and behind the scenes footage about the character Simon in the movie.

The Visual Effects section breaks down seven visual effects sequences (!) with film clips and green scene work usually. Some are short but they are each still worth a watch. You get "The Great Jump", "Shimmying Down Cable", "Jackson Plummets", "Grabbing Onto Crane", "Fall In Front Of Tax", "Water Gushing Through Tunnel" and "Willis Shot Out Of Tunnel".

Finally, you have two anamorphic widescreen Theatrical Trailers and ten TV Spots to enjoy.

"Die Hard With A Vengeance" is a thrilling and highly entertaining movie right from the start and concludes the McClane trilogy in quite an interesting way. This movie has the best presentation of all the "Die Hard" re-releases, perhaps because it's the most recent one. Top that off with some great extras, and you got one incredible DVD release. Highly reccomended for sure!

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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