There’s a slightly awkward situation with the Die Hard movies in the UK, where the distribution rights for parts 1, 2 and 4 are owned by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, while Die Hard With A Vengeance is released by Disney (or at least Buena Vista). As a result, getting a box set release of all the movies is a trickier proposition than you’d expect, as you have to get different studios to accept it, and so it’s only now that Fox can bring out a Blu-ray box set containing all four movies, replacing the previous Die Hard Blu-ray set, which lacked part 3!
You’ve undoubtedly seen all four films (and if you haven’t, what are you doing on a film website, reading a review of a Die Hard box set?), but just in case you haven’t, the series follows the exploits of Bruce Willis John McLane, the archetypal right man in the wrong place at the wrong time. He starts out in Die Hard going to visit his estranged wife at Christmas in her Nakatomi Plaza office. However terrorists take everyone hostage and only the NYPD cop can save the day. Proving John ought to simply ignore Christmas, it’s the Festive Season again in Die Hard 2, where McClane is at an airport just as it’s hijacked by bad guys intent on rescuing a drug lord whose plane is due to fly in.
In Die Hard With A Vengeance he’s on a bit of a downward spiral and has been suspended from the NYPD. However he gets drawn into the plot of a man called Simon, who blows up a department store and then calls the police, asking for McClane. John must do as the bomber says, racing around New York in order to prevent more explosions. Finally, in Die Hard 4.0, McClane is sent to pick up a computer hacker (Justin Long) and is soon thrust head first into an ever deepening crisis as a group uses all the modern technology at their disposal to shut America down. Can John – an analogue man in a digital age – stop them?
Die Hard is unusual for managing four films without a dud amongst them. The first may be the best, but the others are still great action movies. By the time we get to Die Hard 4.0, you do get the feeling it’s only a Die Hard film because Willis’ character is called John McClane, but it’s still fun. And with A Good Die To Die Hard due out next year, it’s not over yet.
Although some Blu-rays of older movies feel like they’ve simply been thrown out with little thought or care about quality, that’s not true here as the picture quality on all the movies is pin sharp. For a 24-year-old film, Die Hard looks superb, and as so much of it takes place at night, there are nice inky blacks with good depth. I always thought Die Hard had one of the best 5.1 remixes on DVD, and that’s even truer here with an upgrade to DTS Master Audio.
The quality continues through all four movies, which all get a significant picture and sound quality upgrade on Blu-ray.
The special features are the same as what was available on the individual releases. To be honest, for the early films it could be better, as there’s a general lack of retrospective features, instead going for a lot of stuff that was made at the time of initial release, which is of mixed quality. It’s okay, but could be better. Die Hard 4.0 is better, with some very good making of featurettes/documentaries, including one that takes an interesting look at the legacy of Die Hard.
Overall Verdict: All four films are looking good on Blu-ray, and with this set offer good quality and a decent price, it’s worth getting hold of. It’s just a shame the quality of the special features on the first three movies isn’t a little better.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac