Gun Fu: Die Hard

Happy trails, Hans!

‒ John McClane in Die Hard (1988)

John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988) is the ultimate action movie for the festive days. Like most such films made in the 1980s, it ticks many boxes of the genres covered by GURPS Gun Fu. NYPD Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is the ultimate badass in both body and spirit, and the shooting shown is in the same vein ‒ “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!

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Tactical Shooting: Predator


‒ Mac Eliot in Predator (1987)

John McTiernan’s Predator (1987) is a superb classic that combines science fiction, horror, and military action. While Predator fulfils many action movie tropes and is hence overall better suited to GURPS Gun Fu, some details merit discussion in context with GURPS Tactical Shooting. The team’s response to the first sighting of the Predator is almost a textbook counterattack manoeuvre (Tactical Shooting, p. 22) following the advice in the US Army’s field manual FM 90-5 Jungle Operations (1982): “Once contact with the enemy is made, the unit’s first action is to build up a large volume of fire.”

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Gun Fu: Last Man Standing

Finn: I guess you’ll just have to kill me.

John Smith: It’ll hurt if I do.

Last Man Standing (1996)

Last Man Standing (1996) directed by Walter Hill is one of my favourite films, combining as it does many awesome ingredients: set in 1931 during the Prohibition, a former mob enforcer on the run from Chicago winds up in a Texas burg under the thumbs of two feuding bootlegger gangs and starts playing the two groups against each other – cue lots of mayhem. We get a period setting with top actors including Bruce Willis as “John Smith,” but also Bruce Dern, William Sanderson, and Christopher Walken, cool vintage props including gats, suits, and haircuts, and an ace score by slide guitarist Ry Cooder. The familiar story about a loner playing two parties of bad guys against each other to his own advantage is credited prominently to Ryūzū Kikushima and Akira Kurosawa’s Yōjinbō (1961), which is ironic considering that their screenplay was based heavily on Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (1929), a novel about a Prohibition-era agency detective who plays several gangs against each other …

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Tactical Shooting: Justified

It was justified.

– Raylan Givens, Justified #1.1 (2010)

Justified (2010-2015) is a television series inspired by the Leonard Elmore character Raylan Givens, who appeared in his novels Pronto (1993) and Riding the Rap (1995), and most importantly in the novella Fire in the Hole (2001). Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is a Deputy US Marshal who has a tendency to get into gunfights. As a former shooting instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia, he is uniquely skilled for that. Justified is a fun show, with interesting storylines and quirky characters. Remarkably for a telly series, the shootouts are also fairly well done.

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Gun Fu: The Matrix

Guns. Lots of guns.

– Neo, The Matrix (1999)


The Matrix (1999) by the Wachowskis was a defining film for the Gun Fu genre, and it featured prominently among our inspirations for GURPS Gun Fu.

Of the many shootouts in the film, I will take a closer look at the one in the lobby of the government building here, to see how it would play out in GURPS terms. Watch just the scene here (the action starts at 0:25).

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Tactical Shooting/Martial Arts: John Wick

John is a man of focus. Commitment. Sheer will.

– Viggo Tarasov in John Wick (2014)

John Wick (2014) is a revenge movie that almost entirely relies on its action scenes. Story-wise, all we need to know is that John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a former hit man who comes out of retirement to exact his revenge on an army of Russian mobsters.

John Wick came out after the publication of GURPS Gun Fu and GURPS Tactical Shooting and therefore was not analysed in GURPS terms for those books. Note that I mention both books, which were originally written as mutually exclusive variations on a similar theme. In general, Tactical Shooting serves to model realistic gunfights, while Gun Fu is intended for over-the-top, totally cinematic gunplay. My initial reaction to this film was that it is Gun Fu, but on review and reflection the movie as a whole is certainly cinematic, set in an alternate New York that is almost out of a graphic novel, but most of the actual fight components are not. In fact, it can be used with considerable success to visualize many elements found in Tactical Shooting and GURPS Martial Arts.

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Tactical Shooting: The Veteran

If he’s gonna play with guns, he should learn how to use one.

– Robert Miller in The Veteran (2011)


Matthew Hope’s The Veteran (2011) is about a former British Army Paratrooper who has recently returned from Afghanistan. Robert Miller (Toby Kebbell) suffers from PTSD and drifts through his days until he is hired by a secretive government official to track a suspected terrorist cell. Eventually realising he has been duped, he goes vigilante and tries to save his love interest from a violent drug gang that terrorises the South London estate at which he has been living. Overall the film tries too hard; the connection between the government conspiracy and the thugs is tenuous and the underlying worldview simplistic. However, many of the details are ace, including Miller’s tradecraft and the various altercations.

The Veteran was released too late to include it in GURPS Tactical Shooting, but with minor allowances it would have been a good fit. As Miller clears an entire estate of criminals, he eventually ends up in a high-rise, with a final shootout in an Eighth Floor hallway. Here is how that scene would play out in GURPS.


Stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS. Continue reading “Tactical Shooting: The Veteran”