The Bonus Disc:
To promote the big-screen release of 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard, Fox offered a new four-DVD package with all the prior flicks. This “Die Hard Collection” includes the first three flicks along with an exclusive bonus disc. For full information on the individual movies, please consult my separate reviews of 1988’s Die Hard, 1990’s Die Hard 2: Die Harder, and 1995’s Die Hard With a Vengeance via the links above. Please note that the picture and sound grades found at the top of this article represent an average for the three movies.
Though this article covers the boxed set as a whole, here I want to concentrate mainly on the package’s fourth DVD. Called “Yippee Ki Yay Bonus Disc”, this disc includes a little Die Hard information.
The main attraction comes from a documentary entitled Wrong Guy, Wrong Place, Wrong Time: A Look Back at Die Hard. The 39-minute and 55-second show mixes movie clips, archival elements, and interviews. We hear from director John McTiernan, director of photography Jan de Bont, screenwriters Steven E. De Souza and Jeb Stuart, production designer Jackson de Govia, editor Frank Urioste, and actors Reginald VelJohnson, Hart Bochner, and William Atherton. “Wrong” looks at the first flick’s influences and the story’s development, cast and performances, the movie’s tone and McTiernan’s work on the set, the movie’s building and its use, cinematography and other technical concerns, editing and music, and the film’s reception.
If you hope to get a thorough look at Die Hard, you’ll have to go elsewhere. Though “Wrong” has some interesting moments, it never quite coalesces into anything particularly memorable or informative. Some of that’s because the extras on the Die Hard DVD already tell us so much, but it’s also due to a lack of focus and a strangely logy feeling to the piece. This becomes a pretty average program.
Next we find a featurette called The Continuing Adventures of John McClane. In this 13-minute and 26-second piece, we find notes from Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin and Die Hard With a Vengeance director McTiernan. They provide general notes about the creation of both Die Hard sequels. As with “Wrong”, this show has its moments but it never really prospers. Again, the commentaries include so much good information that there’s not a lot left to come out here. “Adventures” presents a decent overview and that’s about it.
Finally, the DVD presents some trailers for Live Free or Die Hard. We get its teaser, its “international trailer B”, and its “MSN Roadblock” ad.
For action fans, it doesn’t come much better than the first three Die Hard movies. The first flick remains a seminal classic. While not quite as good, both Die Hard 2 and especially Die Hard With a Vengeance provide a lot of solid entertainment. Unfortunately, the “Die Hard Collection” four-DVD set is a mixed bag. Audio is usually very good for all three movies, but picture quality varies from quite solid (DH2) to mediocre (Die Hard) to dreadful (Vengeance). As for extras, all three films include excellent audio commentaries but not much else. Die Hard gives us a fine text track as well, but the elements on the fourth DVD are pretty forgettable.
As far as recommendations go, there’s no reason to get “The Die Hard Collection” if you already own any of the releases from 2001 to date. The three movie discs are identical to the special editions from 2001, and the “bonus disc” added here isn’t anything special. If you don’t own any of those sets, however, the “Collection” is a decent purchase. I remain disappointed that Fox hasn’t seen fit to upgrade the flawed transfers for Die Hard and Vengeance, but until they finally do that, this will have to do.