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Die Hard 3 {With a Vengeance}


Reviewed by: Kyra Kirkwood
Genre: Action
Video: Anamorphic 2.35:1 Widescreen
Audio: English 5.1 DTS, English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Language: English, French
Subtitle: English, Spanish
Length: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: July 10, 2001
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Commentary: Yes. Director John McTiernan (on disc one)
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: Yes. CBS and HBO television specials and an original featurette ("making of" featurette).
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: Yes. In the "making of" featurette and the Bruce Willis interview.
Trailers/TV Spots: Yes
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: Yes. A never-seen-before, fully edited ending.
Music Video: None
Other: None
Cast and Crew: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene
Screenplay by: Jonathan Hensleigh
Produced by: John McTiernan, Buzz Feitshans
Directed By: John McTiernan
Music: Michael Kamen
The Review: Usually, it's Bruce Willis who steals the show in his "Die Hard" flicks. But in Die Hard With A Vengeance, the one who shines is Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Harlem resident Zeus Carver. It's quite refreshing to see Lt. John McClane (Willis) pair up with someone who matches his own brawn with wit. Willis is still gritty, bloody and heroic in this third "Die Hard" installment, but it's Jackson who comes across with unforgettable one-liners and deadpan jokes. Jeremy Irons, who plays the villain, produces another stellar performance as the bad guy (remember Dead Ringers?). In the opening scenes of Die Hard With A Vengeance, we are greeted with a huge department store explosion in downtown New York. McClane is busy nursing a hangover during his suspension from the police department, but the German-accented bomber specifically requests the "cowboy" to catch him. McClane meets Carver when the bomber, to test McClane's ability to follow directions, sends McClane to Harlem with a racist A-frame sign around his neck. Of course, there's some fighting, some blood, lots of cussing and another explosion-and this is all in the first 30 minutes. Die Hard With A Vengeance doesn't have all the gunfire and shootouts as noted in the previous "Die Hard" movies. Turns out, director John McTiernan made a deal with the New Yorkers: cut down on the bullet-firing noise. So instead, McTiernan blows up the subway, a few cars, some couple buildings. So who would really miss all that gunfire? In fact, action scenes are what sets apart "Die Hard With A Vengeance" from the other two installments. The high-octane explosions and mass New York destruction are sinfully good to watch. The film does tend toward formulaic (a brother out for revenge, perform a task now or I'll blow up a school, etc.), but the high-octane action fill in gaps left in the plot. To be honest, the original DVD was nothing to write home about. This new Five-Star installment, though, is worth running home and showing the folks. It's a primo, double-disc set, complete with: o HBO and CBS television specials; o Alternate ending (never seen before); o Three studies of key stunt sequences; o An interview with Bruce Willis; o Commentary by John McTiernan; o Easter Egg "gag reel;" o The usual fare-trailers, storyboards, TV spots. All in all, watching this DVD is past the point of great. It's nirvana for any "Die Hard" fan out there.
Image and Sound What can I say? Fox has done it again. "Die Hard With A Vengeance" is superb. It boasts of a clean, crisp picture. Colors are great (as one can tell when viewing the crimson blood splatters so prevalent in the film) and the digital transfer is nearly flawless. Images are sharp and clean-there's none of the garb (i.e.: dust, scratches, etc.) that graced the original 1999 DVD of this film. Here, the Five-Star Special Edition is a beaut. As far as sound is concerned, the film, although lacking in that beautiful score gracing the first "Die Hard," has plenty to listen to. Namely, major explosions. Less gunfire, more bone-shattering and teeth-rattling explosions. Thanks to the Dolby Digital and DTS sound options, viewers can really feel the sound, and not just hear it. You can close your eyes and still "experience" the movie.
The Extras Where do I start? This digital smorgasbord of pleasures is never ending. In fact, Fox's "Die Hard" triple-box set is like the Holy Grail to us DVD lovers out there. Watching all three films, with their boat-loads of extras, could provide weeks of disc-induced entertainment. The two-disc set of "Die Hard With A Vengeance" is certainly no exception. To start, on disc two (where all the extra action is), we've got a couple of TV specials. HBO's "First Look-Behind The Scenes: Die Hard with a Vengeance" special is hosted by Reginald Vel Johnson (remember him? Al from the first two installments?). Viewers get to see a few behind-the-scenes secrets and how-to explanations in this 20-plus-minute montage of "Die Hard" trivia. The CBS TV special, "A Night To Die For: McClane Is Back," is hosted by the gem of this third "Die Hard" story, Samuel L. Jackson. Besides being great to listen to and watch perform, Jackson has a presence that makes even made-for-TV mega-promotionals (like this one) seem Oscar-worthy. This feature isn't real great, but highly entertaining, especially because of the "fan" testimonials. Next, we've got the "making-of" featurette. It's like a four-minute commercial for the film. But it's also a light-hearted look at the cast and crew, as well as some fun behind-the-scenes footage. It's not real informative, but a good quick-study on "Die Hard." Ah, the Bruce Willis interview. I wonder if he ever tires of explaining why John McClane feels the need to single-handedly save the universe. This time around, both Willis and McTiernan admit that John McClane is basically Bruce Willis, the tough kid from Jersey who beats the odds, and the bad guys. The stunt coordinator is also interviewed and he explains what a good sport Willis was, doing all of his own stunts, which were plentiful and bone-shattering. This alternate ending-never seen before-is a gem. Writer Jonathan Hensleigh, who explains how Fox executives feared this "Simon Says" ending was too violent and cruel, narrates it (if the viewer chooses). In it, McClane uses a Chinese rocket launcher to enact his own sort of American justice against the bad guy Simon. Hensleigh likes this version better than the one that made the final cut, and I agree. It really shows a frayed, nasty, beaten, nearly maniacal McClane-and it works. Wouldn't you be a bit twisted if, in seven years, you had to endure three episodes of constant near-death experiences as you tried to save the world?
Commentary McTiernan is joined by screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh and Tom Sherak, former marketing president at Fox. After two previous "Die Hards," McTiernan could probably explain in his sleep his reasons for doing this scene that way. Nevertheless, the commentary is still entertaining fare. There's quite a bit of background here, much more so than in the first two "Die Hard" commentaries.
Final Words: How do I say this nicely? If you don't own this DVD, along with its two predecessors, you aren't a true DVD collector. To add fuel to the fire, even the interactive menus are amazing. (The subway theme is almost like a mini movie itself.) In short, Fox's Five-Star Special Edition lives up to its name. It's stellar.


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July 27, 2001