The Top 10 Exploding Helicopter Directors

Simply put, here are the directors who have done more to bring you exploding helicopter action than anyone else.

Whilst we celebrate a quality helicopter explosion as much as the next chopper fireball fanatic, it's equally important we recognise those directors who fulfil their fundamental obligation to film fans by always a whirlybird conflagration in their offerings.

1 - Renny Harlin
Number of exploding helicopter films: 4
Exploding helicopter films: Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea, 12 Rounds, 5 Days Of War
We’ve got a soft spot for Renny Harlin. Yes, he’s made some stupid films, but they’re always enjoyably stupid.

That’s largely how he’s earned his place in our hall of fame with Renny’s Jaws-on-acid effort Deep Blue Sea featuring the entertaining sight of mutant shark chomping a helicopter, and kidnap thriller 12 Rounds including a truly outlandish escape from a chopper fireball.

However, despite his contributions to the art of exploding helicopters, there are several stains on his CV. Most notably Die Hard 2, the only entry in the action franchise which doesn’t feature a chopper fireball. There’s also a disappointing scene in The Long Kiss Goodnight where, in the films explosive climax, it’s utterly inconclusive whether the villain’s helicopter has been destroyed.

= 2 - Roger Spottiswoode
Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: Air America, Tomorrow Never Dies, The 6th Day
There doesn't appear to be a lot of rhyme or reason to the career of Roger Spottiswoode. Comedy, drama, action, sci-fi Spottiswoode has worked in all these fields bringing an unfussy, yeoman-like, competency to them all.

He's made middling comedies (Turner & Hooch), middling dramas (Ripley Under Ground) and a number of middling action films.

It's for these films that we're primarily interested in Roger. Unsurprisingly, for a man who likes to work tightly within the confines of genre conventions, he's included an exploding helicopter in them all.


= 2 - Roland Emmerich 
Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: Independence DayGodzilla, White House Down
It's little surprise that this disaster movie specialist features so prominently in our list. It would be unthinkable for Hollywood's go-to-man for destroying cities and indeed civilisation to be absent.

With so many options at his disposal, it is a mark of his dedication to the art of helicopter explosion that he likes to feature multiple helicopter explosions in his films.

Disappointingly, we've felt unable to include his helicopter work in The Day After Tomorrow as the choppers sadly don't explode. But with some of his other key films yet to be reviewed by us, Roland could well take an unassailable position as the greatest exploding helicopter director of all-time.

= 2 - James Cameron
Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: Avatar, True Lies, Terminator 2: Judgment Day
James Cameron boasts the proud claim of having reduced the World's helicopter population by 8 during blockbuster hits Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar and True Lies.

As his films have become ever more colossal - in both ambition and budget - he's has remained faithful to the need to blow up helicopters at regular intervals.

Satisfyingly, he has used his increasing artistic power to devise ever more elaborate ways to explode helicopters. You need only to view the over-the-top, cartoon tomfoolery climax to True Lies or the veritable exploding helicopter orgy of Avatar - with its record breaking 6 chopper fireballs - for evidence of that.

With two Avatar sequels on the slate, we fully expect to be updating his total helicopter kills soon.

= 2 - Antonio Margheriti
Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: Commando Leopard, The Commander, Codename: Wild Geese
I'll admit that our number one is not a household name. You'd be forgiven for asking Antonio who?

However, in a 25 year plus career in European exploitation films he's managed to explode more helicopters than directors who've had the good fortune to work with bigger budgets or on more prestigious films.

Antonio has eschewed innovation and invention in favour of diligently getting on with the job exploding helicopters in films. And for that you can only admire his singular dedication to the task.


= 2 - Peter Hyams
Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: Sudden Death, Capricorn One, Narrow Margin
I'm not sure Peter Hyams has never made a great film, just as I don't think he's ever made a terrible film. His films have no discernable style or thematic concerns. In this way, he reminds me of the kind of jobbing directors who used to enjoy lengthy careers within the old studio system.

Given his track record, it's not surprising that his helicopter explosions are always highly professional, but perhaps lacking a touch of inspiration - except for the climatic chopper fireball in Sudden Death. Here, Hyams uses all his directorial skills to create a scene of operatic intensity and a mini-masterpiece in helicopter explosion.


= 2 - John McTiernan
Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: Predator, Die Hard, Die Hard With A Vengeance
It’s nearly 10 years since John McTiernan last made a film - a result I suspect of ongoing legal problems associated with a Hollywood phone tapping scandal.

However, before his legal problems he had an enviable record as a helmsmen for bid budget action adventure flicks. Despite having some bonafide action classics on his CV, McTiernan hasn’t brought much innovation to the world of exploding helicopters. Although blowing the top off a skyscraper to destroy a helicopter in Die Hard did demonstrate impressive overkill.

= 2 - Andrew Davis
Exploding helicopter total: 3
Exploding helicopter films: Under Siege, The Guardian
Andrew Davis made his name with thrillers starring Chuck Norris (Code Of Silence) and Steven Seagal (Above The Law).

He then became a major player after the success of Under Siege and The Fugitive. Sadly, the sure touch that Davis had up to now deserted him with a run of duff projects, sci-fi stinker Chain Reaction and an unsuccesful Hitchcock remake A Perfect Murder.

Still, Davis has given us a couple of notable exploding helicopter scenes, including an excellent one in Under Siege which MTV viewers saw fit to vote the 2nd best action sequence of 1992. Surely, there can be no higher praise. Well, almost....



= 3 - Antoine Fuqua
Number of exploding helicopter films: 2
Exploding helicopters films: Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen
After graduating from music videos, Fuqua announced himself as a Hollywood name with the hard-hitting police drama Training Day. Since then, Antoine’s career has drifted curiously along. Despite steady work over the last 15 years, no discernible directorial style or themes have emerged in his films. Perversely, it’s probably the absence of these qualities which means he so regularly finds himself at the helm of a glossy, mid-budget films. Studios, it seems, can rely on him to film the script he’s given without trying to introduce any fancy ideas which make movie executives twitchy.

Still, his journeyman career as a director is not without note given its inclusion of exploding helicopters. Fuqua initially blotted his copybook with us with Shooter – which disappointingly failed to proper show the chopper fireball by having its helicopter fly behind a treeline. However, he’s since redeemed himself with Die Hard-in-the-Whitehouse actioner Olympus Has Fallen, which featured a lengthy helicopter aerial battle and two combusting whirlybirds.


= 3 - Michael Bay
Exploding helicopter total: 2
Exploding helicopter films: Transformers, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen,
Michael Bay shot into the Hollywood firmament with the bombastic Bad Bays. Since then he has gone on to refine an approach to film-making which has seen him create ever larger spectacles of terrifying vacuity.

Like black holes Bay's films are negative spaces of terrible destructive power, consisting of violent sensory assaults which Bay describes, in his own ripe parlance, as "fvcking the frame".

Such has been the inexorable rise of Bay's star in the Tinseltown cosmos, that he now exists in a separate universe - one where he is seemingly immune to critical opinion. For most directors the inclusion of a chopper fireball is a set piece to be lingered over. The denouement to adrenaline fuelled action sequence. To Bay they are nothing more an afterthought. For a man who has destroyed so many helicopters he seems to have little respect for the art.

We'll be updating this list as new information becomes available.....