Henchman of the Week: Uli
Featured in: Die Hard (1988)
Specialties: Explosives, Automatic Weapons, FreeCell
Typing Speed: 56 WPM
Termination: Shot by overly-smirky cop John McClane
Temporary Assignment: Uli is hired along with a crew of about a dozen henchmen to rob the Nakatomi building in Los Angeles of its 640 million dollars in negotiable bearer bonds. The plan was cooked up by Uli's temporary employer, Hans Gruber, and seems simple enough to pull off. Take hostages, steal the loot, and escape after blowing up the roof of the building. The police will think the bad guys were killed in the explosion, and they certainly won't wonder why the roof spontaneously blew up in the first place. The only problem? A smug, balding New York cop trapped in the building with them.
Job Performance: We first see Uli when he is unloading the truck with his fellow henchmen. He is notably shorter than the rest of them, so we assume he may have trouble asserting himself on the job. He quickly ascends to the top floor of the building, along with two other temps, Heinrich and Marco, and the three begin wiring explosives. En route, Marco can be seen yelling "Left! On the left!" at Uli, who, in my opinion, knows exactly which way they need to go, thank you very much. Heinrich also bosses Uli around: "Uli, get up on the pipes", referring to pipes that are spitting scalding hot steam, as they often do in high-rise office buildings.
Meanwhile, McClane runs about the building barefoot, killing one of the henchmen, Tony, by breaking his neck. Tony happens to be the brother of Karl (nepotism in temping?), a short-tempered German as well as the administrative supervisor of the rest of the henchmen.
Heinrich and Marco leave Uli while they go to stop McClane from signaling a policeman, no doubt a relief to Uli, who must be tired of them looking over his shoulder. McClane shoots Heinrich in the chest, and Marco in the crotch (through a table no less), then pitches him out a window.
Another temp, Fritz, is sent to "go help Uli." Bad idea. You really don't want to let a couple henchmen work unsupervised, they'll just screw everything up. A problem arises for Hans as it is revealed that Heinrich was carrying the detonators for the explosives, and McClane now has them. Hans handles this by stating the blatantly obvious (as all managers do when faced with a crisis): "We must have the detonators." Thanks! Didn't know that. Big help.
As a SWAT team approaches the building, Uli takes up a post on the ground floor along with another henchman, Eddie. While they're waiting, Uli helps himself to a Nestle's Crunch candy bar, knowing full well it could be hours until he gets his legally required fifteen minute break. Uli shows even more talent when he fires upon the SWAT team as ordered: "Just wound them." And he just wounds them!
McClane kills two more henchmen by dropping an exploding chair in their vicinity, and a third by firing into an elevator between smirks. He then shoots Fritz in the knees, where Fritz had apparently been storing several large freezer bags filled with strawberry preserves. Karl shoots approximately 8,000,000,000 bullets at McClane but misses, never thinking to have Uli come upstairs to do the shooting, considering Uli has proven himself a good shot. Another example of a temp's talents being ignored so someone else can have the glory. Instead, Karl and Hans shoot a bunch of glass cubicle walls in the hopes McClane will cut his foot and 40 gallons of blood will leak out, which it does. The detonators are recovered, and Uli, who is taking a break in the lobby, is told to "Get to work." He replies "You got it," and scuttles off to the elevator. Remember, now, these were Heinrich's detonators, and with Heinrich dead, Uli is now doing Heinrich's job. Whenever a temp is required to perform tasks that he was not made aware of when accepting the assignment, he should really ask for an increase in pay. Of course, considering a half-dozen henchmen are dead, he will probably get a larger share of the loot, so a call to his agency is not necessary, in fact, it would be a terrible mistake, because the agency would just wind up taking 35% of it.
Later, Uli is told to lock the hostages on the roof and "come right back." Oh, thanks, Hans. As if he didn't know to come right back. He's spent the evening wiring the roof with enough explosives to orbit Bruce Willis's ego, of course he'll be coming right back. Uli proactively facilitates connectivity with the hostages by screaming "Move it!" and "Come on!" at them, and on his way (right) back down, sadly, our henchman meets his grisly end. He opens a door and is abruptly shot several times in the torso by McClane, who has apparently never heard of the Miranda Warning.
At any rate, the explosives that Uli rigged up (nearly all by himself, mind you) are detonated without a hitch, killing a helicopter's worth of FBI agents and cops, a final, fiery testament to the talent of this now dearly departed henchman.
Constructive Criticism: Not much! Uli did his job, never complained, and kept a low profile. He did, however, wear leather pants. Not really a good idea on the first day of a daring skyscraper heist. If you have questions about the dress code, don't be afraid to ask.
Uli is played by Al Leong, a veteran stuntman, writer, actor and director.