Mention Die Hard in a casual conversation and for sure, Bruce Willis and “Yippee-ki-yay” comes to mind.
Indeed time flies and it has been 33 years since the release of the first Die Hard. This ultimate visual history book published by the ever-reliable Insight Editions takes an in-depth look at the iconic action franchise from the first to the fifth one.
John McTiernan, director of the first and the third (a personal favourite of mine) not only provides a foreword but a significant amount of information regarding the making of the first one. It was a difficult shoot right down from the script to the casting to the shooting location which was mostly done at Fox Plaza (standing in for Nakatomi Plaza) in downtown LA. You probably won’t know that the story is actually based on a novel called “Nothing Lasts Forever”, then TV actor Bruce Willis wasn’t the first choice for the role of John McClane and the entire crew has less than seven months to finish the movie before its release date in the summer of 1988.
Writers James Mottram and David S. Cohen spent over 100 pages detailing the different aspects of making the original Die Hard though it’s not likely their fault that the subsequent pages for the rest of the instalments dwindled in size. Honestly, there’s only so much to pack into one single book but the writers squeezed in as much interview from director Renny Harlin who talks about the difficulties of filming in snow conditions for the sequel and the escalating budget which frightened even season producer Joel Silver. For the third one, it’s good to see McTiernan returned to the franchise he helped created and the opening scene (which featured a huge explosion) for Die Hard With A Vengeance is actually shot on location in New York city rather than a backlot.
Lens Wiseman who received tonnes of backlash for the PG13 rated Die Hard 4 actually did more than a decent job in assuring the stuntwork were done physically rather than infront of a greenscreen especially in one of the movie’s memorable action scenes which features cars flipping in a tunnel and a cop car being smashed into an airborne helicopter. John Moore which did the horrible last outing commented that the fourth one was too CG-heavy. Obviously he forgotten to watch his own directorial outing which was mostly shot in Budapest instead of Russia and peppered with lots of CG enhanced sequences.
As with other making of books published by Insight, Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History contains a generous amount of pictures including behind-the-scenes photographs of miniatures, stunt work, blueprints of floor plans and conceptual artwork. If you seriously want to nitpick, Willis could have at least contributed his thoughts in a standalone chapter given he plays the role of JOHN McCLANE five times! Still, this handsomely designed and packaged book is a must-own for all Die Hard and cinephile fans. There’s so much information to devour and we guess it’s about time to rewatch the entire franchise as well.
Review by Linus Tee
HOW TO AMERICAN: AN IMMIGRANT'S GUIDE TO DISAPPOINTING YOUR PARENTS Book Review
BRUCE LEE: A LIFE Book Review
I'LL HAVE WHAT SHE'S HAVING: HOW NORA EPHRON'S THREE ICONIC FILMS SAVED THE ROMANTIC COMEDY Book Review
GEORGE LUCAS: A LIFE Book Review
WONDER WOMAN: THE ART AND MAKING OF THE FILM Book Review
THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE: THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE Book Review
THE GIRL WITH THE LOWER BACK TATTOO Book Review
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE: THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE Book Review
GHOSTBUSTERS: THE ULTIMATE VISUAL HISTORY Book Review
MICHAEL KLASTORIN and RANDAL ATAMANIUK'S BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE ULTIMATE VISUAL HISTORY
MATT ZOLLER SEITZ'S THE WES ANDERSON COLLECTION: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL Book Review
LYNDA OBST'S "SLEEPLESS IN HOLLYWOOD: TALES FROM THE NEW ABNORMAL IN THE MOVIE BUSINESS" Book Review
RAMIN ZAHED'S "THE ART OF DREAMWORKS ANIMATION Book Review
JACKIE CHAN: NEVER GROW UP, ONLY GET OLDER Book Review
SEAN HOWE'S "MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY" Book Review
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER "TOTAL RECALL: MY UNBELIEVABLY TRUE LIFE STORY" Book Review
JODY DUNCAN JESSER'S "THE ART AND MAKING OF THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY" Book Review
RICHARD SCHICKEL'S "STEVEN SPIELBERG: A RETROSPECTIVE" Book Review
GARRY MARSHALL'S "MY HAPPY DAYS IN HOLLYWOOD: A MEMOIR" Book Review
PAMELA GLINTENKAMP'S "INDUSTRIAL LIGHT & MAGIC: THE ART OF INNOVATION" Book Review
VIC ARMSTRONG'S "THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST STUNTMAN" Book Review
TINA FEY'S "BOSSYPANTS" Book Review
SIMON PEGG'S "NERD DO WELL" Book Review