Now here’s a film I know I have seen (probably on Betamax – it’s that old!) but can’t really remember much about it. What I do remember is that the bloke from The Professionals was in it and there was the SAS flying around in helicopters and jumping out on ropes. I couldn’t remember much of the plot (if any) and I never caught it on its countless TV screenings. Thus, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I popped the Blu-ray in my player.
Peter Skellen is a disgraced SAS Captain, thrown out of the service to go undercover to infiltrate a group of radicals led by Judy Davis and John Duttine. Skellen, with his smooth chat up lines, worms his way into Davis’ bed and also into her group of peace lovers. Duttine’s character is not convinced by Skellen’s story and gets him checked out. It all appears to be genuine but Skellen is constantly followed by one of the group and Ingrid ‘Countess Dracula’ Pitt.
The first hour of the film sets the story up and the final hour or so is taken up by the siege at the home of the American Ambassador to Britain. Obviously influenced by the Iranian Embassy siege a year earlier, Who Dares Wins is one of those films that is so British it’s unbelievable. Let’s look at the evidence to prove only we (Britain) could make it.
– The man with the gong. Good old, Rank! – Stock shots of London with lots of red buses – Fantastic theme music by the legendary Roy Get Carter Budd – TV star going for the big time (Lewis Collins) – Various character actors whom we all know and love: Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt, Tony ‘McClaren from Porridge‘ Osoba and Nick Brimble. – The immortal Patrick Allen taking time off from flying around in his Barrett Homes helicopter. – An aging American ‘Big Name’ guest star, this time Richard Widmark. – Produced by Euan Lloyd, the genius behind The Wild Geese, my favourite ‘blokes’ film of all time.
The years certainly haven’t been kind to the film, though. The fashions are scary, the hair is big and at times some of the acting is pretty wooden. However, Collins is great basically playing his TV character of Bodie. He looks hard with his gun and would put the SAS training to good use in a couple of dodgy Italian action flicks a couple of years later.
Davis, showing that she is a great actress, forgets she is in a hokey old action film and takes her role reasonably seriously.
Finally, there’s Edward Woodward playing Commander Powell as a good old fashioned copper who just wants to end the siege. It was a sad loss when he passed away recently as he was one of our greatest talents.
The action sequences are done well as they always are in a Euan Lloyd production. If you want to see some of his other stuff, check out The Wild Geese and The Sea Wolves, both great ‘blokes’ films. Also, if you want a film along the same lines, treat yourself to North Sea Hijack with Roger Moore in a bobble hat – priceless entertainment.
Arrow Films’ transfer on Blur-ay is not bad, but not the greatest I’ve seen. No doubt, knowing them, its the best they could do with the elements they had at their disposal. The two channel mono soundtrack is clear and sounds fine on the action sequences. Roy Budd’s funky tunes also sound pretty good as well.
We have a commentary on the disc with producer Euan Lloyd and Ian Sharp, the film’s director. Also, a terrific documentary on Lloyd and his career, and a vintage ITV on set featurette.
Apparently, the package is a two disc affair, but the review copy I had was only the one disc. Whatever version is out there, I recommend the film to fans of early 80s action and Lewis Collins fans. Anyone else would probably find it quite horrible and dated. As I am getting on a bit now, I personally really enjoyed watching it and it’s a shame there was never a sequel.
Who Dares Wins is out now on Blu-ray and available at the Den Of Geek Store.