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 fulfill their fundamental obligation to film fans by always a whirlybird conflagration in their offerings.


1 - Antonio Margheriti

Number of exploding helicopter films: 6
Exploding helicopter films:
I'll admit that our number one is not a household name. You'd be forgiven for asking Antonio who?

However, he's the veteran of a 40-year career in the Italian film industry. Over the years he produced countless genre pictures and 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 of exploding helicopters in films. And for that you can only admire his singular dedication to the task.


= 2 - Cirio H Santiago

Number of exploding helicopter films: 5
Exploding helicopter films: 
  • Stranglehold (1994)
  • Kill Zone (1993)
  • Firehawk (1993)
  • Beyond The Call Of Duty (1991)
  • Future Hunters (1986)
The Filipino film director is a B-movie legend. During a prolific, 50-year career, he ground out 100 films working across all sorts of genres. However, it is for his work in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties that he's best known.

During those years he developed a fruitful partnership with schlock auteur Roger Corman churning out films across all sorts of genres.

With his idiosyncratic style and commitment to excess he's a favourite of current Hollywood royalty Quentin Tarantino.



= 2 - Joseph Merhi

Number of exploding helicopter films: 5
Exploding helicopter films: 
  • Executive Target (1997)
  • Riot (1996)
  • Rage (1995)
  • Maximum Force (1992)
  • Midnight Warrior (1989)
Joseph Merhi was one half of the legendary PM Entertainment. During the VHS boom of the Eighties and Nineties, Merhi - together with his partner Richard Pepin - produced over a 100 straight-to-video films.

The company's trademark were it's action packed films which were chock-full of elaborate car stunts and huge explosions. Working with second tier action stars like Gary Daniels, Don 'the dragon' Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock.


3 - Renny Harlin

Number of exploding helicopter films: 4
Exploding helicopter films: 
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.



= 4 - Roger Spottiswoode

Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films:
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.



= 4 - Roland Emmerich 


Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: 
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.


= 4 - James Cameron

Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: 
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.




= 4 - Peter Hyams

Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films: 
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.



= 4 - John McTiernan

Number of exploding helicopter films: 3
Exploding helicopter films:
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.





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