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Die HardThe Die Hard Trilogy on DVD

Just in time to cash in on Die Hard 4 comes this four disc boxed set that includes the first three Die Hard movies and a fourth disc of extra stuff.

Bruce Willis became a true action hero star in John McTiernan's Die Hard, with his portrayal of John McClane, a NYC cop visiting his wife in Los Angeles for Christmas. In the first movie, a group of high tech thieves take over the high rise office tower in which McClane's wife (Bonnie Bedelia) is an executive. McClane just happens to be there, waiting out her company Christmas party when the bad guys arrive.

And isn't it handy that he's there?

Director Renny Harlin's Die Hard 2: Die Harder sees McClane again in the wrong place at the right time, or is it the other way around? This time he's in Washington, hanging out at a major airport just as the bad guys take over the place in an attempt to spring a drug lord. There's action and exploding stuff a-plenty and some pretty neat aviation effects in this one.

Die Hard with a Vengeance, also directed by McTiernan, is more of a buddy movie than the previous two outings. It brings Samuel L. Jackson into the mix as a civilian drawn reluctantly into the action as the brother of an old nemesis (Jeremy Irons) holds the city hostage and puts McClane and his civvy buddy onto a merry-go-round of tasks they must perform in order to prevent even more havoc from being released.

As is often the case, the first movie is the best, but all three are well worth a look.

Fox, according to some reviews we read, appears to be releasing this set as a blatant cash in on Live Free or Die Hard, which hits theatres just in time for this set to exploit it. This is a good set of discs, but apparently not the best one: the "Die Hard Ultimate Collection" apparently has a lot more extra material included with its versions of the three features.

But you still get a lot of stuff here:

Disc 1: "Die Hard," presented in anamorphic widescreen Dolby Digital and dts 5.1 sound. With optional commentary by director McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia. You also get scene-specific commentary by special effects supervisor Richard Edlund, a subtitled commentary by various cast and crew  members, and a "branching" version of the film with an extended power shutdown scene.

Disc 2: "Die Harder," presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital and dts 5.1 audio. Features director's commentary, an HBO Special, Featurette, Deleted scenes, Villains Profile, Interview with director Renny Harlin, visual effects features, trailers, TV spots and more.

Disc 3: "Die Hard with a Vengeance," presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital and dts 5.1 sound. Features commentary from director McTiernan, CBS Special: A Night to Die For/ McClane, an HBO Special,  Alternate ending, special effects vignettes, Bruce Willis interview, Villains with a Vengeance, Storyboard sequence and more

Disc 4 (The Bonus Disc): Includes an "Inside Look: LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD", Wrong Guy, Wrong Place, Wrong Time: A Look Back At Die Hard, The Continuing Adventures of John McClane.

Picture quality is generally very good, though we noticed some grain especially in the first, oldest, film. Audio quality is delicious.

The Die Hard Trilogy, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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