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Die Hard is the movie franchise that made a movie star out of TV star Bruce Willis, and created an entire action-movie genre of its own. In the original 1988 film, Willis plays wisecracking New York cop John McClane, who arrives at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles to meet up with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonny Bedelia), at her office Christmas party. As luck would have it, the company ends up in the middle of a terrorist plot led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his gang of expert killers, and with little help coming from outside, McClane has to pick off his enemies one by one. Thus was born the "Die Hard genre", epitomized by such films as Under Siege (" Die Hard on a ship"), Passenger 57 ("Die Hard on a plane" ), Speed ("Die Hard on a bus"), and Cliffhanger ("Die Hard on a mountain"). But few measure up to the explosive brilliance of Die Hard. Director John McTiernan develops the action at a fast and furious pace, culminating in some fantastic set-pieces on the top of the building, in the elevator shaft, and in the building's outer plaza. Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza's script, based on Roderick Thorp's novel Nothing Lasts Forever, is smart, funny, and full of memorable lines (among them "Welcome to the party, pal!" and of course "Yippee ki-ay, motherf*****"), and the cast is perfection, especially Rickman as the cunningly evil villain, and Willis, whose McClane character--bloodied, beaten, bruised, and barely breathing, as he battles both bad guys and bureaucrats--is someone audiences could genuinely cheer for. --David Horiuchi