Die Hard (LBX,DD,THX)

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Catalog Number: 8905-85
Release Date: November 29, 1995
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
out of five stars

I think Die Hard will eventually be regarded as a movie classic on par with Citizen Kane and Ben Hur.  Its  influence can already be seen in most of the action films of the 1990's.  Scores of action pics have imitated the Die Hard mold.  How many movies have we seen with a wisecracking anti-hero battling a group of terrorists/criminals in an enclosed space (other than the two Die Hard sequels, I mean).  Some of the more notable Die Hard "clones" include Cliffhanger (directed by Die Hard 2's Renny Harlin), Speed (which was directed by Die Hard's director of photograph, Jan DeBont) and True Lies.  Unfortunately, for every good Die Hard clone there have been many, many bad ones (i.e., Speed II).  These hideous knockoffs have unfortunately sullied Die Hard's good name similar to the way Star Wars good name was sullied by the cheesy sci-fi that followed its release.  Luckily,  the memory of those movies faded and Star Wars is now regarded as a classic.  I foresee a similar fate for Die Hard.

Die Hard still manages to outclass its newer and more expensive competition thanks in large part to the excellent acting.  Unlike the worst of the Die Hard's clones, Die Hard is filled with memorable characters played beautifully by the cast.   Bruce Willis does his usual patented "tough/funny guy" routine (which still draws audiences).  He is ably backed by Alan Rickman who plays terrorist Hans Gruber with unforgettable gusto (a role he basically repeats in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).  Also rounding out the cast is William Atherton (Ghostbusters) as the obnoxious reporter Dick Thornberg, Reginald VelJohnson (TV's Family Matters and those 10-10-321 commercials) as Twinkie loving Sgt. Al Powell , the late Alexander Godunov (Witness) as the hard to kill terrorist Karl, and Bonnie Bedelia as John McClane's long suffering wife.

Note: Die Hard  is a member of the Internet Movie Database's Top 250 films.

Note:  Other versions of Die Hard include the original widescreen release (sans THX and Dolby Digital of course) and a  release with a DTS soundtrack  (same picture transfer as this version).
out of five stars

The original release of Die Hard on Laserdisc was one of the first Letterboxed Laserdiscs available and it played a large part in popularizing Letterboxing.  Indeed, Die Hard is a movie that benefits greatly from the use of Letterboxing.  Director John McTiernan fills the entire widescreen frame with action.   The Laserdisc has an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which captures the full width of the original cinematography.  I have a pan and scan copy of the movie on VHS but I haven't watched it since purchasing this laser.

Furthermore, this is an excellent transfer of  the movie with clear, stable colors and sharp detail.   Unlike the laserdisc of the third Die Hard movie, there are no simmer artifacts from edge enhancement

The movie is spread out to three sides.  Sides 1 and 2 are in CLV while Side 3 is in CAV.  This is another excellent pressing by Pioneer USA with few dropouts to be seen.
out of five stars

Left Channel Right Channel
Digital Tracks Dolby Surround Soundtrack Dolby Surround Soundtrack
Analog Tracks Mono Soundtrack  Dolby Digital Soundtrack 

The promotional material for this film promised that the movie will "blow you through the back of the theater."  Well, the soundtrack sure does its part.  Die Hard's soundtrack if filled with ear splitting gun fire and explosions.  Unfortunately, technology has marched on and Die Hard's soundtrack now sounds shrill compared to newer soundtracks.  Also, dialog is occassionally lost in all the the din.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack was not reviewed.
out of five stars

Die Hard comes in a handsome gatefold package.  A relatively informative essay graces the inside cover.  Furthermore, the laserdisc includes two trailers (one for Die Hard, one for Die Hard 2).   This a decent offering, but hardly brimming with extras.
Final Verdict
out of five stars

An exellent movie and an exellent laserdisc.  The retail price is steep, but this laserdisc can be picked up significantly cheaper than that used.

Second Opinions

You are here: DudeNet > Laserdisc Information Page > Reviews > Die Hard (LBX,DD,THX)

Page Last Updated 1/14/2000