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Ranking Movie Trilogies: Die Hard June 13, 2008

Posted by Mike in Die Hard, movie trilogies, movies I quote entirely too often.

Hey, only two weeks later, it’s time to reply to Indiana Jones with a superior trilogy: DIE HARD. “But there were four Die Hard movies,” you might protest. First of all: shut up. Second of all, while Live Free or Die Hard (oh, would that General John Stark have been alive to see that. It’s history, slobs. Get some.) was surprisingly entertaining for what it was, it’s really hard to view it as a Die Hard movie when they replaced John McClane with a Bruce Willis-looking T-1000. I mean, seriously: he fights a Harrier jet with his bare hands! While undeniably bad-ass, it’s not really in line with the “hey, I’m just an average beat cop with a lot of guts” mantra that made the original so enjoyable.

Here’s why the Die Hard trilogy beats out Indiana Jones. First off, the complete lack of George Lucas’ involvement. Hell, I should just end this article right there, because that’s a slam dunk. But mostly because, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When have you ever seen anyone parroting Indiana Jones? Never. But since the 1988 original, we’ve had Die Hard On a Bus, Die Hard on a Boat, Die Hard on a Plane, and Die Hard at Disneyland.

Not to mention, Die Hard promoted racial harmony (more on this below). Meanwhile, Indiana Jones featured upper-class white men pillaging the villages of poor minorities, many of whom died. That’s right; Indiana Jones is racist!

Plus, I don’t see any ridiculous awesome cockrock songs about Indiana Jones like this, do you?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Anyway, on to the rankings. There’s only one possible way to rank the first three movies. Usually, I can disagree with someone’s opinion and at least see their side of it, but in this case: NO. If you disagree with this, you’re wrong.

1 ) Die Hard
The original. The classic. Best of the three? How about best movie ever. One of the first action movies to include comedy, but not in a cheesy way (ooh! Navy Seals!) Not only did it relaunch the entire action genre, make Bruce Willis a legitmate star, and inspire dozens of knockoffs, it’s also got the single best movie villain of all time: Hans Gruber. You take your cliched thug bad guy out for revenge or power; I’ll take the well-educated man who’s just as comfortable talking about men’s fashion as he is shooting an old Japanese man in the face. And remember, he’s an exceptional thief.
Fun trivia fact: When they were about to shoot the scene where McClane drops Hans off the side of the building (remember, the classic shot of Hans looking up in terror as he drops), director John McTiernan told Alan Rickman (Hans) that the stuntman would drop him on three. He then goes to the stuntman and says, “hey. drop him on two.” So that’s real terror in Hans’ eyes as he falls.
McClane’s black friend: Holy crap, it’s the dad from Family Matters! While the Aryan Nation is trying to kill McClane, and while the white cops on the ground are botching things up, only Lt. Carl Winslow truly supports our man McClane. Bonus: he gets to shoot a blonde-haired, blue-eyed German!

2 ) Die Hard With a Vengeance
You know what? This movie gets shit on a lot. I understand, the “oh, he’s Hans’ brother!” reveal was kind of goofy, and the stupid “Simon Says” games get old after a while. No arguments there. That doesn’t overcome the fact that the plot was really awesome – pretending to bomb the shit out of NYC schools, just so that every cop in the 5 boroughs has to be absolutely anywhere except where the bad guys are, Wall Street, where they can then steal the gold from the Federal Reserve. That’s fucking brilliant. Not to mention, as a New Yorker, it’s fun to see them have to bust ass all around the city. Every time I go by Tompkins Square Park, I look for a bomb in the fountain. I guess some kid must have found it.
Fun trivia fact: When McClain is put into the van to go up to Harlem, policewoman Connie asks McClane why he looked so bad. He replies, “I was living on a nice fat suspension, smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo.” This movie came out in 1995; remember what Bruce Willis did just prior? That’s right, 1994’s Pulp Fiction. “Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo” just happened to be the line of the song that Willis’ character was singing to in his car, just before he ran down Marcellus Wallace.
McClane’s black friend: Zeus. Why you calling him Jesus? Does he look Puerto Rican to you? You know, Zeus, father of the Gods, Mount Olympus? Don’t FUCK with me, or I’ll shove a lightning bolt up your ass?! ZEUS!

3) Die Hard II: Die Harder
And then we come to the ugly stepchild of the trilogy, Die Hard II. You know how you know this one’s going off the rails? About 2 minutes into it when you’re forced to see Colonel Stuart’s NAKED MAN ASS while he does yoga. There’s just some massive plot holes in this movie. Why would the bad guys super-subtly hand each other all the holiday packages with weapons in them in the airport? They couldn’t have done this beforehand? It’s exactly this behavior that led McClane to become suspicious in the first place. When McClane fires the automatic weapon at Sipowicz to prove to him that the gun was filled with blanks, don’t you think one of the 15 cops or so around would have capped McClane in the back of the skull first? And while the “lighting the gas trail to explode the plane” sure looked cool and led to the best usage of “Yippie kay eh” of the whole series, it’s physically impossible to have that happen. There’s some good moments, for sure. Like McClane stabbing a bad guy in the eyeball with an icicle. And Maxim named the crash of the British airliner the second most horrific movie crash ever. Stiff upper lip, chaps… if you can find them.
Fun trivia fact: The General is from the fictitious, yet awesome, republic of Valverde – the exact same republic that Arnold dominates in Commando.
McClane’s black friend: Marvin. Yeah, this movie is even lacking in the melanin pigment department. Okay, he finds some airport blueprints, big deal. The main black guy in this movie, Major Grant, ends up being a bad guy. On the plus side, he does get thrown into a jet engine, so at least he’s got that going for him.



1. Wilson - June 16, 2008

I have not seen anyone one parroting Indiana Jones. Although, the genius conglomerate that brought us such classics as Date Movie, and Epic Movie is making a PARODY film that does take part in PARODYING Indiana Jones called Disaster Movie. It sounds so dumb, I know. But I read it on FilmDrunk.com so it must be true.

2. mary belle jane - July 1, 2008

they do have a brief parody of indiana jones in the movie “uhf” – the classic weird al movie from the late 80s

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