The original release of the UK DVD version in 1999 was actually even more cut than the British video and cinema versions. This was apparently because a TV or airline version was erroneously used to master the DVD. Ironically, because the content does not exactly match the officially classified version, this much-sanitized release fell foul of British censorship laws, and was withdrawn. The replacement, to be issued in mid-2000, will be the same as the less-censored UK video and cinema version.
SPOILER: The Version shown on German TV features the alternative ending (Gruber escapes with the gold, but McLane tracks him down through the number on the bottom of the aspirin bottle (at the phone booth) and kills him).
The film was pre-cut by 20th Century Fox in America before its release on DVD and VHS, and it was this cut that was released worldwide. The 12 seconds of cuts include some chain-whipping in the fight between McClane and Targo. The R1 Special Edition is the most complete version of the film to date (August 2002).
On the Region 1 disc (not the Special Edition), part of the dialogue is cut from the conversation between McClane and Zeus when they are breaking into the Yugo. Cut from the scene is Zeus accusing McClane of being a racist again when he asks if he can jump start the car.
The UK cinema version was cut by 12 secs by the BBFC in order to receive a 15 certificate. Cuts were made to the stabbing of the guard in the bank, the shootout in the lift scene, the shooting of the men in the dump truck and the chain fight scene. Profanity was also overdubbed throughout the movie and replaced by the distributors themselves. For example: "Fuck you, Joe" became "Go away, Joe", and "Ten blocks, you fucking kidding me?" became "Ten blocks are you really kidding me?" amongst many others. UK video and DVD releases all feature the same cut print despite the fact the BBFC waived all cuts in 2008.
BBC1 in the UK on the 3rd January 2008 screened an unedited and uncensored version. All the previous edits taken from UK versions either by BBFC or by FOX before submission to the BBFC have been restored.
The UK theatrical Version was cut in 2 places, accounting for a shorter running time. Firstly the execution of the bank guard by Katya (Sam Phillips) with the long knife was trimmed. Secondly the shootout in the elevator with Willis, the guards and Otto does not include the scene where the blood of Otto sprays across Willis' face.
In the T.V. version of the film, the sign that McClane is forced to wear in Harlem is changed to read "I hate everyone".
TV version aired on FX (as of May 2002) removes a few more elements: the blood in the elevator and when the guard is knifed are missing, all the language is filtered, the placard reads 'I Hate People', while also missing are two catch phrases--Zeus: "Are you aiming for these people?" McClane: "No! Well, maybe that mime..." and where McClane asks Zeus if the car has anti-lock brakes before pulling the fuses (in this version he simply cranks the car hard and it turns hard, sliding backward).
FX Edit also cuts much of the conversation during the water jug sequence, uses an ugly (and trimmed) pan'n'scan version of the shot as McClane and Zeus fall onto the ship (Zeus is only partially visible for a second), and the taxi appears to be scratched before entering Central Park.