10 Great Moments That Make You Love “Die Hard” Over & Over Again

As Die Hard reaches its 30th birthday, we celebrate 10 moments that remind us why we love this classic Hollywood action film time and time again.

Die Hard is now rightly recognised as one of Hollywood’s great action films. Indeed, it set the formula for the modern against-all-odds thrillers that were inspired by John McTiernan’s high concept 1988 movie, launched Bruce Willis as a movie star, and proved the catalyst behind a successful franchise that has spawned at least two great sequels.

“Now I Have A Machine Gun, Ho Ho Ho”

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainAfter dispatching his first terrorist, John McClane (Bruce Willis) manages to steal the villain’s machine gun. In typical sharp-tongued style, the New York cop taunts the bad guys by scrawling “Now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho Ho” on the dead guy’s jumper. Nice festive touch, John!

The Watch And The Fall

Die Hard, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) - Top 10 FilmsHans Gruber’s death is fittingly epic. McClane initially tricks him into thinking he has thrown his weapon away. He’s actually concealing a handgun – armed with his last two bullets – behind his back with box tape. Like an outlaw in a quick-draw shoot-out, the New York cop dispatches the last of the villains only for a dying Gruber to grab McClane’s wife and pull her out of the window. His grip on the woman is loosened when McClane unclips the watch strap, allowing the timepiece and the terrorist to fall to their doom.

The watch, of course, comes with subtext having been given to McClane’s wife from a former colleague (now dead having tried to save his own skin by cosying up to the terrorists). The colleague had irked McClane principally for trying to get his estranged wife into bed but also for putting the lives of the hostages at risk. Getting Gruber and the watch was, as they say, killing two birds with one stone.

It Gets Personal: McClane And Karl Do Battle

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainMcClane’s spat with the last of the terrorists to die gets personal after Karl’s brother becomes the bare-footed cop’s first kill. Karl (Alexander Godunov) is fearless and a little bit psychotic, thus McClane more than meets his match when the pair eventually lock horns. Weapons are discarded as they brawl near the tower’s roof with the cop often coming second best in the exchanges. But the wily hero uses his streetwise tactics to string some low-hanging industrial chains around Karl’s neck, leaving his supposedly dead body hanging from the rooftop as the hostages escape the roof.

Make Fists With Your Toes

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainDie Hard is a lesson movie. Oh, you didn’t know? Well, if proof is needed, look no further than the knowledge McClane is armed with before his next plane journey. As one passenger advises him, when you get where you’re going take off your shoes and socks and make fists with your toes to overcome a fear of flying. It’s the catalyst for raising the tension as our hero tries to save the day with nothing on his feet.

“Yippee Ki-Yay…”

Die Hard, John McTiernan, Bruce WillisEnsuring he always has the upper hand, McClane never misses a chance to give the terrorists the proverbial “middle finger”. One of the film’s most quoted lines appears as he closes a verbal spat with bad guy Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) with “Yippee ki-yay, mother******”.

Welcome To The Party, Al!

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainDetective Al Powell wasn’t expecting his Christmas Eve to be so eventful. However, after reacting to a 911 distress call and finding nothing to concern him at the terrorist-controlled skyscraper (thanks to the bad guys pretending to be the tower’s security guards), McClane realises the only way to get the message across is to throw the body of a recently killed villain out of the window. With the aim of an expert marksman, the body lands directly on Powell’s windscreen causing the LAPD street cop to crash his car and call in the cavalry.

Gruber And McClane Meet

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainIn one of the film’s inspired scenes (it was not originally part of the script), Hans Gruber and John McClane meet when the terrorist group’s leader goes to the roof to check the explosives they’ve set up are still ready to go. It’s a memorable moment as the audience is armed with the knowledge of who he is but McClane, initially, has no clue, thinking him instead to be a hostage who has managed to escape.

Saving The Day With A Computer Monitor & C-4

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainWhen the SWAT team gets destroyed trying to storm the Nakatomi building, McClane is almost helpless to stop the terrorists killing the injured cops. However, having nabbed a bag from one of the bad guys containing C-4, he fashions a bomb out of a computer screen monitor, a power cable and an office chair, dropping the explosive device down the lift shaft. It explodes, killing the two terrorists tasked with repelling the SWAT team’s advance.

Karl Comes Back From The Dead

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainKarl cares less about riches and political gain and more about revenge. Hanging him by his neck is not enough to stop this psychopath. He returns after we’ve all breathed a sigh of relief. We thought it was all over but it wasn’t. Al Powell, acknowledging his moment in the heroic spotlight, enjoys one of those great character arc finales as the family-man, a cop who put his gun away after an accidental shooting, finds the courage to use his six-shooter once again when it really matters.

Jumping Off A Roof Is Never A Good Thing

10 Great Moments That Make You Love "Die Hard" Over & Over AgainMcClane, after dispatching Karl, heads to the Nakatomi building’s roof to tell the hostages to make their way back downstairs because the terrorists intend to blow it up. But his own route becomes blocked so he uses a fire hose as a makeshift rope to jump off the roof just as it blows. He survives the explosion only to find himself hanging 35 storeys high. Our hero manages to break through a window just as the fire hose becomes loose. And as the fire hose’s heavy metal reel begins to fall, McClane, still attached to it, manages to untangle himself just in time to avoid being dragged to his death.

Over to you: what are your fave Die Hard moments?

Written and Compiled by Dan Stephens

DIE HARD – 30TH ANNIVERSARY arrives on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ & Digital Download May 14

Dan Stephens
About the Author
Dan Stephens is the founder and editor of Top 10 Films. He's usually pondering his next list, often inspired by his adoration for 1980s Hollywood, a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. DJ Reply

    OMG: Every moment of Die Hard makes me love it but these are good. The whole film is quotable from Argyle to Powell, to even Johnson & Johnson(who are a great moment). I even love the little moments for instance when terrorist Al Leong is eating a candy bar during the action. In our blog, we listed this as one of our all-time favorite summer blockbusters. When it’s on I stop to watch it and quote it throughout. The scene where Hans and John meet is awesome. Great list!

    • Dan
      Dan Reply

      Haha, I love that scene when the guy steals a candy bar just as he’s about to go into a life-or-death fire fight.

  2. Dan Grant Reply

    Terrific piece Dan. You’ve nailed most of the iconic scenes. Some of my other favourites are when the two Johnson’s are on the helicopter and we get this hilarious bit:

    “WOOOHOOO….just like f****n Saigon!”

    “I was in junior high, dickhead”

    Of course the very first Twinkie scene with Al Powell was also pretty funny.

    And there are so many small subtle little seems like when John McClane is continuously running by the same naked picture on the wall and one of the times he greets it by saying “girls”.

    In the scene where the guy tells him that he has no more table man and next time he shouldn’t hesitate to shoot, and then of course John McClane takes him up on the offer and shoot some to the table and says thanks for the advice.

    Great recap of Die Hard and it’s definitely going to make me go home and watch it now tonight.

    • Dan
      Dan Reply

      I knew when I wrote my tenth entry there would be bits I’d later kick myself for not including. And that bit with the two agents is one of them (especially when they end up getting blown up). I love that scene when the guy tells him there’s no more table and did think about putting that in the top 10. And I probably could have included a mention of him crawling around the vent shafts (although I did sneak a picture of him in there above). I’ve just received the Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray which I’m looking forward to enjoying (when I get a 4K TV and Blu-ray player that can play it – haha!).

  3. Callum Reply

    Oh, wow! Love this! So many classic moments. I’ve got to watch Die Hard tonight. My favourite bit, if I had to pick one moment, is when he’s in the vent shaft and starts chatting to himself about having a peaceful Christmas on the coast.

    • Dan Grant Reply

      Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.

      Yep, that’s a great scene.

    • Dan
      Dan Reply

      Great scene Callum!

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