This is the first action film ever made. Die Hard is not your typical popcorn thriller that gets released in the summer. Let's face it, this is the film that started a whole new genre. After the success of this film, future releases were pitched with the film's title included.
Die Hard on a Bus = Speed
Die Hard on Alcatraz = The Rock
Die Hard on an Aircraft Carrier = Under Siege (which was actually a Die Hard on a Cruise Ship based film with McClane and his daughter battling terrorists that never saw the light of day)
Willis owns John McClane from the first frame and Alan Rickman defined how a villain should be portrayed. Rickman is brilliant and elegant with his Hans Gruber especially when it comes to the plan that he and his co-horts devise. He creates a character so original and sharp its almost an insult that Die Hard with a Vengeance was made.
John McTiernan (sans a few stinkers) knows how to bring an action movie to film status and where to steer the thrills and chills. An exceptional cast with real emotion, not cardboard cookie cut outs later portrayed in other films, not to mention the far less superior sequels to Die Hard.