Die Hard – 30th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Die Hard 4K ReviewFor thirty years now there are people who still endlessly debate and call the action movie Die Hard a Christmas film.  To me I never really thought of it that way until recently.  Maybe I had blinders on all this time, but I always just regarded Die Hard as simply one of the greatest action films of my generation growing up.  It had it all: a flawed hero, a donut eating cop as a buddy, a memorable villain, a high tower and most importantly, Rated R action, execution and language.  If you know me personally and all my seemingly endless hang ups in life, then you’ll know that last point I make about it be Rated R is very important to me.  It allows the film and its action to breathe unrestrictedly.  You keep telling yourself that people getting sprayed down mercilessly by automatic weapons in Christopher Nolan PG-13 films with no visible blood is perfectly fine.  I’ll just nod at you in a non-verbal agree to disagree mentality, but I digress.  Let’s talk some 30th anniversary Die Hard down below.

Die Hard 4K


The action classic, Die Hard, is celebrating its 30th Anniversary here in grand fashion.  For its May 15th debut on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format it received a brand new re-master courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.  This the film that made Bruce Willis a bonafide, bankable action star.  I mean what was he really doing before that?  He had some very small film roles on his resume, but he was really only known for the television show Moonlighting.  Sadly, I’m so old I fondly remember that series too.  Let’s table even actor Bruce Willis for amount and forget about him.  This movie alone went on to launch a billion dollar franchise as not one, not two, but four sequels have followed in its footsteps since.  If I had it my way though, I wish we could have killed it with the fourth one.  The fifth one was so laughably bad that I never even made it all the way through.  My personal time felt more valuable, but that’s just me.  Also, in 2017 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.   Yippie Ki Yay!

Die Hard is directed by John McTiernan and written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart.  What’s most interesting about this movie is its backstory on how it’s actually a sequel to another series and the stars who once had first dibs on the role of John McClane.  Obviously Bruce Willis was as history puts it reluctantly given it, but come on the guy owns it.  Do a little research when you have a chance and learn what might have been.  It’s really interesting nonetheless.

Die Hard starts out on Christmas Eve.  It follows the trials and tribulations of off-duty New York Police Department officer John McClane as he arrives in Los Angeles to reunite with his separated wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), at her company’s Christmas party.  This said party obviously takes place at the high-rise tower I mentioned up above known as Nakatomi Plaza.  Celebrations at the gala cease as a group of terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), seize the building and thus everyone becomes hostages.  However, John McClane escapes detection and elusively hides throughout the building inevitably becoming Hans’ worst nightmare.

John eventually kills off the terrorists one-by-one and ultimately learns their real endgame, to steal millions in bearer bonds from the building’s vault.  In the process he also befriends an unlikely ally, a donut eating cop named Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), who’s the only one crazy enough to believe him.  I also can’t leave out John’s suave limo driver Argyle (De’voreaux White).  Ha ha.  In the end though what you really have is a heart stopping action thriller.  Sure it’s cheesy as it’s from the 80’s, but it’s really the first of its kind if you think about it.  A man who walks through glass to overcome the most impossible odds.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a good day to “die hard” revisiting this historic release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the very first time.

Die Hard 4K


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Fox’s Die Hard.  The movie was originally shot mostly on 35 mm film.  For this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release the original camera negative was then scanned in native 4K and color graded for HDR here.  It should be noted that the included Blu-ray is not remastered form the new scan here like the 4K disc utilizes.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • HDR10: Yes
  • Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2.35:1
  • Clarity/Detail: This one is what is folks.  The original Blu-ray release was rough to my eyes, but I can’t see this one looking any better than it does here in this 4K rescan.  Sure there’s some softness here or there due to the way in which this one was captured, but you can’t argue the fine detail in all the textures here.  It’s sports fine you’ll want to have sexual relations with this one.  You can almost feel Holly Generro’s 80’s hair.  It’s that crisp!  If this is what they can do with 4K restores, then bring on the Lethal Weapon series.  Holy wow color me impressed here!  Everything is just so clear here from skin complexions, imperfections in, scars, stubble, etc. to textures in fabrics such as on the airplane seats or in stone.  I can’t say enough good things!
  • Depth: Never did I think I would be saying this, but wow do things pop in a three-dimensional sense.  Every foreground character is separated from their respective backgrounds.  Whether you’re at the airport, baggage claim or even the Christmas party depth of field is every which way you look here.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are deep and inky throughout this presentation.  Nothing gets lost in the shadows here!
  • Color Reproduction: Die Hard has always been a very dark film at times so it shouldn’t be any surprise when I mention the colors are natural.  However, the HDR allows some elements to truly pop here like bright explosions for example, reds and greens and whatever else you want to pick out.  This is definitely not a mute looking visual piece.  That’s for sure!
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones for the most part look natural and authentic.
  • Noise/Artifacts: While there’s really nothing to complain about here in this category I wouldn’t be doing my job completely if I didn’t warn all the needless grain haters. There is a light veneer of grain throughout this 4K presentation and it like Gal Gadot in her Wonder Woman getup is beautiful.

Die Hard 4K


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Fox’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Die Hard.  I do want you to know that the 4K UHD Disc and the 1080p Blu-ray comes equipped with the same English DTS-HD-MA 5.1 surround track.  From everything I can discern it appears to be the same previously released surround track as prior Blu-rays of the film had.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD-MA 5.1, English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish and Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Czech 2.0 Dolby Digital, French, Castilian, German, Dutch and Italian 5.1 DTS
  • Subtitles: English For The Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish, French, Castilian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Czech, Chinese and Polish
  • Dynamics: Let’s face it folks.  This one is a product of the 80’s and the soundstage never really sounded spectacular here.  In fact when it was released theatrically it played in just Dolby Stereo.  However, with all that being said there’s still A LOT of room to play here.  There are plenty of quiet moments, but also ones that pop too once the action and carnage ensues.  There’s one gun battle that literally wakes the dead.  That’s what is so surprising about the dynamics of this one.  The soundstage is actually quite LARGE.  For example there’s a scene with a table saw and I’ll be damn if it didn’t immerse you fully.  Furthermore, the heigh channels perked up through the bleed in of this DTS-HD MA track with faux feelings of overhead helicopters, sprinklers raining down, explosions, gunshots and more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: There’s a lot of quietness in the LFE channel, but when things like explosions and gunfire begin to rock the soundstage the subwoofer comes to save the day here in a very BIG, MONSTROUS way.   Plus there’s always the roar of the airplane, the score, a chainsaw, explosions, bullet battles and so much more.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The discreet directionality is what I love most about this track as song effects and atmospheric events are limited to respective channels.  Examples of such can be found in the opening sequence with the airplane landing, gun spray, vents, fight sequences, screams and more.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are clear and understandable for the most part.  It’s very much a front and center kind of effort here.

Die Hard 4K


So like pretty much all catalog titles getting the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray makeover there’s absolutely nothing new in the extras department here.All of the below extras are previously available on the previous Blu-ray releases, but that’s okay right?  I don’t know about you, but I’m solely here for the 4K UHD presentation.  With that being said though there is a redemption code for the Digital HD version of the film too.  I do have to ponder though for a “30th Anniversary” edition release of Die Hard you would think there would be some new supplements, huh?  Oh well!  I guess I’ll just be happy with what I have here feature presentation-wise.

  • Commentary – Here we have the sole feature length commentary with  Director John McTiernan and Production Designer Jackson DeGovia.  How could would it have been to get Willis to revisit this some 30 years later?
  • Scene-Specific Commentary – This one is only a scene specific commentary featuring Special Effects Supervisor Richard Edlund.
  • Subtitle Text Commentary – This one features various cast and crew.
  • The Newscasts (SD, 7:59) – This extra contains newscasts as shown in the film, bloopers, outtakes, etc.
  • Interactive Style Gallery (SD, 9:27) – This slideshow contains views of props, models and on set moments.  Nakatomi logos take you to additional outtakes, blueprints and more.
  • Trailers & TV Spots (SD, 4:42)

Die Hard 4K


Really?  You really need to read here to see whether or not Die Hard is a good title to re-buy for the umpteenth time now on the 4K ultra HD Blu-ray format?  Relax!  I’m just giving you a hard time.  There’s actually never been a better time to “die hard” with Die Hard now on 4K ultra HD Blu-ray!  Granted you’re not getting anything extra in the way of supplemental materials (other than the Digital HD Movies Anywhere copy), but you are getting the movie in its absolute best presentation to date.  So either way you’re coming out a winner even if you have to shed 20 bucks to be a part of this all.  Yippie Ki Yay (Insert the Bad Mother word here)!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


Die Hard


4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

May 15th!




Die Hard 4K Cover


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “Die Hard – 30th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Of course, it’s a Christmas movie. It’s always been a Christmas movie. An action movie can be a Christmas movie, just like a comedy or a romance. Beyond all the obvious stuff like the Christmas time setting, the Christmas party, or the fact that the score incorporates Christmas music, John’s wife is named HOLLY for crying out loud. It’s all right there. 🙂

  2. Brandon Peters

    “You keep telling yourself that people getting sprayed down mercilessly by automatic weapons in Christopher Nolan PG-13 films with no visible blood is perfectly fine. ”

    Is this really a thing? I’ve never even thought of that let alone cared that it would affect the quality of a PG-13 comic book superhero movie.

  3. Brian White

    I wrote that exclusively for you to see if you would read it and you did. Thank you!