23 December 2012

Yippee Ki Yay, Baby Jesus

From what I've heard Christmas is meant to be a time for families to all get together whilst giving each other thoughtful gifts. Last Shitmas I told my Dad what DVDs I was excited about and hinted heavily that they might make some good presents. You can imagine my excitement when I opened my main gift off him and it turned out to be a £2 fucking dinner tray. Later that night I found myself sat alone in my room, eating a cold turkey pizza whilst wishing that there was something better on television than Jingle All The Way. In a list of things funnier and more endearing than that film I would definitely have to include cock spots and cancer of the gooch. To make matters worse I was also eating my food straight off my knees like a proper fucking pauper. As it turns out, after mere hours of languishing in shear giddiness of my new gift, it had already been stolen from me. By 'pure coincidence', Dad had recently broken his own dinner tray and failed to notify me of the need to reserve my own sodding present. I know it's the thought that counts but the only thing that I could think at the time was, “what a tight fucking bastard'.

I know that shitmas is for children and religious crazies but it's still such a pain in the arse. There's only one thing that gets me temporarily into the festive spirit and that's watching my favourite Christmas movie. Every year without fail I genuinely spend the 24th of December watching Die Hard and that's about as close as I get to enjoying the season. If watching Bruce Willis shoot a bunch of terrorists in the head doesn't make me feel Christmassy then absolutely nothing will.

"Young, dumb and full of his cum"
As action films go I'm sure we all agree that Die Hard is clearly the best. In fact I think there should be a mandatory prison sentences for anybody who thinks differently. It belongs in that small group of gung-ho movies that came out between about 1985 and 1995 that completely defined the genre. I suppose other examples could of course be things like Leon, Hard Boiled and everyone's favourite Brokeback/beat-em-up Point Break.This was almost the golden period of action movies in which they were both intelligent and aimed at adults. Before then they were all about Stallone-esque, beefcaked retards whose brains were about as big as their steroid-shrunk cocks. Obviously Arnie is excluded from that simply for being so in love with himself that it becomes genuinely infectious. You've got to admire a man who can say shit like, “Don't disturb my friend, he's dead tired”, and still in reality become an elected politician.

"Of course I need the power drill. There might be boys there."
So, released in 1988, Die Hard begins with Detective John McClane visiting his estranged wife Holly at her Christmas work party. They've been living apart for a while and despite Holly having a hair cut like a psychopaths uncontrolled pubes, he intends to try and reconcile their marriage. When reaching the merry shindig however, McClane finds his 're-fuck the wife' goal thwarted by Hans Gruber and his gang of obviously gay German porn stars. Posing as terrorists, Gruber and his men hold the whole building hostage in an attempt to rob its vaults of $640 million worth of untraceable bearer bonds. Presumably they intend to use the money to fund their various addictions to peroxide, steroids and poppers. I'm not generalising that to all gay people by the way, it's just that if this lot weren't violent terrorists then they'd definitely be just as happy working and playing hard in a funked up, disco steel-mill. Also I can't be sure but I'm pretty certain one of the terrorists is actually played by Jeffery Dahmer. I don't know how much necrophilia and cannibalism Gruber has planned for this robbery but I guess it can't hurt to be prepared.

Meanwhile in another part of the building, McClane is scampering about upstairs like the barefoot bandit. Having heard the gunshots outside his room, his policing instincts kicked in causing him to leave the hostages in danger as he ran away to hide. Unfortunately for him this happened during a moment of relaxation in which he had removed his socks and shoes to make weird feet fists on the carpet. Although this is a problem for him, it could be worse. Considering how Richard Gere relaxes he'd have spent the entire movie fighting terrorists with a little mouse tale poking out of his arsehole.

"Dammit Janet, just smile for Christ's sakes"
So with McClane hiding upstairs and wanting to show off to his bushy haired wife he decides to save the building. This means creeping about like a pesky member of the Vietcong and attacking whenever he finds a half-good moment or sees a flash of blonde. At the same time he's also got a direct radio to Gruber allowing the two men to flirt outrageously in a bid to work out what the other is after. Considering McClane wants Holly back and Gruber wants his men to stop being killed the movie is basically an explosive, redneck adaptation of that grotty, swinging TV show Wife Swap. I don't want to sound like a dick but in all honesty, if I was McClane I wouldn't go to the effort. Holly is played brilliantly by Bonnie Bedelia and she's a likeable enough character but not worth taking a bullet for. If you don't know what she looks like then just picture Susan Sarandon after she's surgically removed her sense of fun. In a way I like to think of Die Hard as an unofficial sequel to Thelma and Louise in which Bedelia plays a post-crash Sarandon whose had all the smiles smashed out of her.

In a way, and in her defence, I suppose you could argue that her character doesn't really have that much to be happy about. She's married to a man whose quickly going bald, she's being held hostage and she's living in the 80's. If I'd lived through ten years of shoulder pads, neon socks and Flashdance legwarmers then finding myself staring down the barrel of a gun would probably hugely cheer me up. Particularly if the man holding that gun was Alan Rickman giving the best performance of his movie career. I know that he was one of the best things about Harry Potter but even seeing him cast a spell isn't as magic as hearing the patronising way he pronounces, “Yippi Ki yay mutha falka”. If anything it's possibly that it's Rickman's villain that helps make this film stand above all those other action classics from that brief golden period. I don't remember the bad guy in Hardboiled but there's always been something a bit off putting about Patrick Swayze in Point Break. In fact there's something a bit off putting about Patrick Swayze in everything except when perfectly cast in Donnie Darko. I'm not suggesting that in real life he was a paedophile but that he simply had a pervy looking smile and creepy, beady eyes that made him very believable as one.

Merry Christmas, boys and girls!
So Die Hard has a great villain, meaning it's going to need a pretty good hero to match. Luckily then, Willis also showed up and delivered a career defining performance too. What's interesting when watching the film is just how normal McClane is. With its unsubtle title and brutal action reputation you'd expect the hero to be Bruce Willis at his burly best. However instead he's just your regular, average man. Admittedly he does kill a few terrorists without worrying so I guess he's actually your average American man. Although he gets quite neck-snappy at times he also has a little cry in the bathroom too. The closest I think Arnie ever got to crying was when he realised he couldn't fuck the alien's vagina-mouth in Predator. However just because McClane is more human than those other pumped-up, muscle-tards doesn't make him any less funny. Every word spoken in the Running Man is wet your pants hilarious but Die Hard actually makes you laugh intentionally. McClane is a desperate man and when faced with an impossible situation the best thing to do is really to just take piss. So it's good that when not killing the terrorists he spends his time winding them the fuck up. My favourite bit is obviously when he sticks one of his murder victims in a lift and writes on his jumper, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho”. It's actually about this point that I really start getting as close as possible to that Christmas feeling!

Obviously too it goes without saying that the action is clearly brilliant. In fact I would say that this one film has everything in it that you could possibly ask for from helicopter explosions to hanging Germans. The film was masterfully directed by John McTiernan who has since gone on to do absolutely fuck all. In 2008 he was sent to prison for his involvement with the dodgy private investigator Anthony Pellicano however I honestly think his more serious crime was the shitty 2002 remake of Rollerball. In his defence, I suppose he did direct Die Hard: With A Vengeance which although not as good as the original is still the best of the sequels. It seems to me that where the Die Hard Franchise is concerned, nobody making them seems to understand what made it so great in the first place. Each film has gotten bigger and bigger which is completely the wrong thing to do. The first was set in one building, then an airport, then New York, then most of America and apparently in the next instalment he's heading to Russia too. I can only assume as each setting gets larger that Die Hard 6 will be set on the fucking moon as McClane hides in a crater from the pissing clangers.

"Fritzl? Yippee Ki Yay, family fucker!"

The thing that makes the first film so great is its smaller and more claustrophobic setting. By being so trapped, there's a constant feeling of tension and an actual reason for him to be fighting the bad guys. If the makers of the franchise had seen sense, the sequels would have gone even smaller with the second being set in a single house and the third taking place in a Joseph Fritzl-esque sex dungeon. In fact, with his evil intent and Germanic accent, Fritzl himself would make a pretty good villain. He could play Gruber's father who traps Holly in a gimp-box out of revenge for the disruption of his family. Obviously we've not seen Die Hard 5 yet but by taking McClane to Russia I'm starting to worry that he's at the risk of becoming one of those Stallone-esque heroes from the 80's. The character is meant to be an everyman who happens to be a detective. I'm not the most well informed on international politics but I'm pretty sure a New York detectives jurisdiction doesn't quite stretch all the way over to Mother Ruski.

Merry fucking Christmas
Since its release back in 1988 Die Hard has almost become the joke answer when people are asked about their favourite christmas film. But for me when I say it, I'm being completely genuine. It's set during that crappy time, features a festive song by Dean Martin and ends with a feel-good moment in which money flutters down from the sky like it would if Donald Trump started sponsoring snow. I've already been told that this Christmas my Mum wants me to have left her house by 5:00pm because she, “wants to enjoy the day too”. Beyond being deeply offended by the burden that my company must be to the woman who selfishly spat me into this world, I will at least have plenty of time for more movies. Other alternative Christmas films that I recommend to those who hate the season as much as me are In Bruges, Brazil, OHMSS and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. My rule in selecting them are that they have to feature a Christmas tree and a lot of people have to die. McClane might have lamented his day being chased about by Terrorists but at least people were thinking about him. Die Hard is not only the greatest action film of all time but for me it really is the highlight of one miserable fucking day. 

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