DIE HARD: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION
Fox Home Video, $79.98
NOTHING LIKE six hours of John McClane blowing apple-sized holes in terrorist torsos to temporarily warp your perspective of a permanently warped reality. For better or worse, vicarious civilian wish fulfillment has an outlet in these love letters to one essential action movie triumph and its two increasingly inferior sequels. Given that the villains victimized a high-rise, an airport, and N.Y.C. in the Die Hard trilogy, this six-disc collection's comprehensive extras flicker with tragic irony.
Die-rectors John McTiernan and Renny Harlin use promotional featurettes to excitedly gab about body counts, pyrotechnics, logic-defying stunts, and what a great, selfless guy Bruce Willis is. (His funny outtake footage, admittedly, concurs.) A solid deleted sequence from the '88 original meticulously depicts how a city might kill the power in a terrorist-occupied skyscraper. Enterprising writers can scroll through Die Hard's tight, clever screenplay, second only to Lethal Weapon as today's model for domestic action-comedies.
Bonus material from the sequels is less consistent. Racism rears its slimy head in a DH2 cut where dim-bulb janitor Marvin spouts off, unprovoked, about "Japs." Vengeance delivers the masterstroke: a spectacularly perverse alternate ending, discarded because Willis appeared "too sadistic" in forcing heavy Jeremy Irons to play spin-the-bottle with a rocket launcher! Unintentionally challenging on many levels.
WHAT ELSE is coming your way? Speaking of influential action films (and sequels), The French Connection I and II have been issued in one set. The two-disc 60th anniversary edition of Citizen Kane boasts a spiffed-up transfer, two-hour documentary, and commentary by Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich. Mods and Rockers can both take note that Quadrophenia, which returned here early in the month, now makes the jump from analog to digital with improved print and sound—plus extras including Vespa commercials! More cerebral cineastes may prefer Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura, with restored print, making-of documentary, and Jack Nicholson reading from the director's diary. (Hey—didn't we just see Jack in that Stanley Kubrick box set?)