Who Dares Wins (1982)

On 5th May 1980, the six day siege at the Iranian Embassy in London was ended when special forces soldiers of the SAS stormed the embassy building, released the hostages, killed 5 terrorists and captured the sixth. The terrorists had already killed one hostage, and were threatening to slaughter the rest at half-hour intervals, when the go ahead was given for the rescue mission, codenamed Operation Nimrod.

Not only was the operation a stunning success but, crucially, it took place under the gaze of the world's news media. Television news crews were camped outside the embassy awaiting the latest developments, with their cameras trained on the building. The rescue mission was captured on camera and streamed on live television around the world, causing a media sensation.

The Special Air Service (SAS) was one of several British special forces units formed in the desert campaign in North Africa during World War II. Unusually, it was also one that had survived into the Cold War era, being reactivated for the Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960.

With the rise of international hostage takings and hijackings, the regiment had taken on a counter-terrorist role in the 1970s, and it was this that would see it thrust into the media spotlight. Following the TV pictures of SAS men blasting their way into the embassy building, everyone wanted to know who they were, what they did and how they operated.

Lewis Collins and SAS men running along a corridor
Captain Skellen (Lewis Collins) leads his men on the hostage rescue mission

One of the many people watching the TV news that day was the British film producer Euan Lloyd. Lloyd was a former publicist who had made a few westerns shot in Spain in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and had recently produced the war films The Wild Geese (1978) and The Sea Wolves (1980). Watching the SAS in action, Lloyd knew that he had the subject for his next film, and got on the phone immediately to his lawyer to register a number of prospective film titles with the MPAA, one of which was Who Dares Wins, the motto of the SAS.

The story of the Iranian Embassy siege would eventually be told in another feature film, 6 Days in 2017, with Mark Strong, Jamie Bell and Abbie Cornish. But Lloyd decided to make his SAS film a fictional one. The siege at the Iranian Embassy would provide the obvious model for the film's climax. There would be a building, probably an embassy or similar, where terrorists would take hostages and make impossible demands. The SAS would then have to be sent in to rescue the hostages and kill the bad guys in spectacular style.

To play the hero in the film, Lloyd recruited Lewis Collins, a British TV actor and the star, together with Martin Shaw (who, coincidentally, also appeared in 6 Days), of the popular TV thriller series The Professionals, that ran from 1977 to 1983. At the time, Lewis Collins was being touted in the British media as the ideal choice to replace Roger Moore as James Bond, and to bring some grit back to the Bond role. In Who Dares Wins, he would get what almost no other British actor of the time would - a feature length audition for the part of James Bond.

In the film, Lewis Collins plays Peter Skellen, a Captain in the SAS who is drummed out of the regiment in disgrace, following his thuggish behaviour on a training mission. A German and an American officer on attachment to the regiment are caught by Skellen's men during an escape and evasion exercise. Skellen gets a little too much into character as the enemy and gives them a vigorous roughing up during a mock interrogation. Rather than be returned to his original unit, Skellen resigns his commission, declaring that he is "SAS or nothing".

It quickly transpires, however, that Skellen's expulsion from the regiment was a ruse to enable him to infiltrate the People's Lobby, an anti-nuclear organisation led by Frankie Leith (Judy Davis) and Rod (John Duttine). The People's Lobby are of course, the film tells us, mostly a peaceful group. But hiding in their ranks are a hard core who will do anything to get their message across.

Camouflaged soldiers on a mountain side
Skellen (far right) with his men on the training exercise in Wales

Now supposedly a civilian, Skellen rolls up to a club where the group's leaders hang out, and where Frankie appears in anti-nuclear agit-prop music and dance performances, where she plays the not too taxing role of an American nuclear missile.

Skellen makes a beeline for Frankie and turns on his James Bondish charm. He is of course irresistible to female anti-nuclear activists, and a relationship quickly develops between the two of them. Skellen plays the disillusioned soldier, and mostly comes clean about his past in the army and about his wife and child, although he claims that they are getting a divorce.

Frankie decides to keep him around, partly because of his obvious sexual magnetism, and partly because of his expert special forces knowledge. Her group have a special operation of their own planned, and an ex-SAS officer has just the kind of information they might need.

Skellen attempts to work his way into the group's inner circle and find out what the target of their operation is. But Frankie's colleague Rod doesn't trust him and, while he's roped into the operation at the last minute as an adviser, his wife and child are taken hostage to make sure he plays along.

The terrorists' target is the residence of the American ambassador (Don Fellows), where a reception is taking place with a variety of distinguished guests. These include the U.S. Secretary of State (Richard Widmark), the British Foreign Secretary (John Woodnutt) and the head of the U.S. Strategic Air Command, General Ira Potter (Robert Webber).

The terrorists demand that an American nuclear missile be fired at the nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch in western Scotland, to demonstrate the terrible effects of nuclear weapons. If their demands are not met, they will start killing the hostages.

Will Skellen be able to foil the terrorists and call in the SAS to rescue the hostages? And is it even a spoiler if I say that the answer to that question is Yes?

Norman Rodway and Lewis Collins in Who Dares Wins
Skellen meets his contact, Ryan (Norman Rodway)

Euan Lloyd got together some of his regular crew to make Who Dares Wins, including Reginald Rose, who had written the screenplays for Lloyd's two previous films The Wild Geese and The Sea Wolves. Other Lloyd regulars involved included production designer Syd Cain, composer Roy Budd and title designer Maurice Binder (of James Bond series fame), although the plain and boring white titles scarcely seem to require the skills of a designer as legendary as Binder. Given free rein, it's easy to imagine him coming up with a memorable title sequence for Who Dares Wins, involving CND symbols, semi-naked women and SAS gas masks, but sadly it wasn't to be.

There are a few Lloyd regulars in the cast, including Patrick Allen and Kenneth Griffith, who had both been in The Wild Geese and The Sea Wolves. Euan Lloyd's daughter Rosalind Lloyd, who had a small part in The Wild Geese, gets a more substantial role as Skellen's wife Jenny. Robert Webber and Hammer horror star Ingrid Pitt, who appears as a fanatical German terrorist, would both appear in Lloyd's next and final film, Wild Geese II in 1985.

Given that Who Dares Wins is a British action film, it's perhaps inevitable that there are also plenty of James Bond connections among the crew. These include Maurice Binder, Syd Cain (designer on From Russia with Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Live and Let Die), cinematographer Phil Meheux (who would later perform the same role on Goldeneye and Casino Royale) and editor John Grover, who edited several 1980s Bond films. Director Ian Sharp was chosen for Who Dares Wins because he had directed Lewis Collins in episodes of The Professionals on television. His Bond experience came later, directing the 2nd unit on the 1990s Bond film Goldeneye.

Who Dares Wins is quite a different beast from Euan Lloyd's previous productions, even his last two films, the old geezer war adventures The Wild Geese and The Sea Wolves, despite also being a military-based action film. It's a deliberate attempt to make a more modern, gritty and relevant film, an urban thriller with plenty of swearing and violence for 1982 and, as Ben Elton would say, a little bit of politics.

The script was apparently written in conjunction with a novel by James Follett, although oddly enough the book was not called Who Dares Wins but The Tiptoe Boys. The story was the work of George Markstein, who was mostly a writer and script editor on television thriller series, but had also worked on the screenplays for the films Robbery (1967) and The Odessa File (1974).

Lewis Collins in SAS uniform
Skellen, about to lose his SAS commission

The story was turned into a screenplay by the American writer Reginald Rose. Rose had written the excellent TV play and film Twelve Angry Men (1957), but he's not exactly on form in Who Dares Wins. The script is not very plausible in its character scenes or in its general conception. The writer also lets a couple of very minor Americanisms slip into the script, but these are hardly worth criticising in the circumstances.

The most remarkable thing about Rose's script is that Euan Lloyd must have looked at it at some point and thought "This is a good script", which is hard to believe. Or at least "This script is adequate", which is not much easier to believe.

Reginald Rose's screenplays for Euan Lloyd's films are strangely fascinating. Was this really the same man who wrote the superlative screenplay for Twelve Angry Men? It's not just the gulf in quality that makes you wonder, but in the macho attitudes on display, which all seem a long way from the liberal hand-wringing and doubt of Twelve Angry Men.

Did Rose really write these screenplays, or was he just lying by the pool, occasionally telling his producer on the phone that he was definitely hard at work on the script, while his wife or 15 year old son were tapping away on a typewriter somewhere in the background? Or did Rose just get very right wing as he got older? It does happen sometimes.

In his television roles Lewis Collins displayed a certain degree of charm and self-mockery, something that could have made him an appealing cinematic hero. However, he is not best served by the writing or direction in Who Dares Wins. The film requires him to play a taciturn tough guy with a mean scowl and, while he is mostly adequate, he always looks like an actor trying hard to play the tough guy, and he lacks the sense of humour that made him a more likeable hero in The Professionals.

In a surprise casting choice, the Australian actress Judy Davis agreed to play Frankie Leith, the leader of the terrorist group. Davis was best known for the Australian period drama My Brilliant Career (1979) for which she had won a BAFTA award and much acclaim. Davis does what she can with her role in Who Dares Wins and she is at least memorable, but her early scenes with Collins are all but unplayable.

John Duttine and Judy Davis
Rod (John Duttine) and Frankie (Judy Davis)

Skellen's pick up technique is to just waltz in to a radical club, looking like an undercover policeman and wearing a double breasted blazer of the type favoured by Nigel Farage. He plonks himself down in front of the star of the show and then unleashes his incredible chat up lines on her ("I want to take you to bed"). Amazingly, this actually succeeds, although it may only work on crazed anti-nuclear terrorists with problem hair, so I don't advise you to try it. After a night of passion when she charmingly tells him that "you're very good at it", she wants him to move in with her the next day. As they enjoy a post-coital cuddle on the sofa, they inevitably chat about the threat of nuclear devastation. Collins is bad in this scene, but thankfully it's fairly early on and he is never quite as bad again.

The acting generally is mixed, but this is not the sort of film you go to for complex characterisations or performances. There are, however, a couple of nice, low-key performances in the supporting cast, from Tony Doyle as Colonel Hadley, the reassuringly mild and businesslike SAS commander, and Edward Woodward as the police chief who has to carry out negotiations with the terrorists. Maurice Roeves, meanwhile, just has to shout and scowl as a hard bastard Scots SAS Major.

It's not clear why Lloyd, Rose and Sharp settled on anti-nuclear activists as their bad guys, but it was at least topical. The anti-nuclear campaign had been dramatically revitalised in the early 1980s by the deployment to the UK of American nuclear cruise missiles, and by increasing East-West tensions following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Reginald Rose does put in an awkward scene at the beginning featuring a conference involving various security chiefs, when they have to laboriously point out that the vast majority of anti-nuclear protesters are "ordinary decent people", just so we can get that out of the way. They're not all terrorists, alright?

It does stretch credibility that anti-nuclear activists would want to fire a nuclear weapon, although the film does have a stab at selling the idea. Perhaps the anti-nuclear angle was intended to make Judy Davis's character more sympathetic and to introduce some ambiguity into the film, but this doesn't really come across.

Ingrid Pitt on a firing range holding a sub machine gun
Ingrid Pitt on the firing range. There must be some symbolism here, but it's too subtle for me 

Davis's character drives a Lotus sports car and lives in a luxury apartment, thanks to her inherited riches from her wealthy father (whom she hated, obviously). Given this, the film is probably implying that she is slightly divorced from the real world, not needing to work or earn a living or worry about money. Perhaps that's why the cause gets such a hold on her and why she comes to think that the end justifies the means. Although she never comes across as stupid, which she must be if she thinks anyone is going to fire a nuclear missile at a blameless part of Scotland.

The activists of the Peoples Lobby also include Kenneth Griffith as the anti-nuclear Bishop of Camden, who argues that Jesus was a "militant radical", and Ingrid Pitt as a ruthless terrorist. The Bishop is one of the peaceful activists presumably, as we never get to see Kenneth Griffith wearing a dog collar and waving a machine gun at the assorted hostages. Griffith does get to deliver a speech in the mostly irrelevant rock concert scene, before the stage is invaded by gatecrashing skinheads.

Given the range of possible terrorists running rampant in the 1970s and early 1980s, it seems odd that the film alights on the anti-nuclear cause, when there are so many more plausible candidates, from the IRA to the PLO or the Red Brigades, or fictionalised versions of them or their affiliated or splinter groups. Maybe Euan Lloyd just had a bee in his bonnet about anti-nuclear protesters and needed to get it off his chest. The film even has the terrorists use CND symbols as targets on a firing range, which is rubbing our noses in it a bit.

Of course, there are shady foreigners behind all of this, in the person of Middle Easterner Malek (Aharon Ipale), who arrives in London with huge wads of cash to spend on "worthy causes", which are in fact various pseudo-revolutionary organisations and terrorist fronts.

Malek is welcomed into the British establishment, not least by his egregious lawyer, who invites him to have dinner with his family. The film's final scene is more alarmist than triumphalist, showing Malek arriving at what appears to be a smart London club to meet a pillar of the British establishment (Paul Freeman) who abhors all this killing of terrorists. The two men link arms while Malek explains that the People's Lobby were just amateurs and that they have plenty of time to cause more chaos and destruction. "All the time in the world" he says, and the film climaxes with a rousing rendition of The Red Flag, followed by the end credits.

Tony Doyle sitting at a table overseeing operations
Colonel Hadley (Tony Doyle) oversees the SAS operation, 
with Commander Powell (Edward Woodward) to the right

Who Dares Wins' politics are underlined by its brief opening title sequence, showing pointed shots of major war memorials in London, before cutting to a chaotic hodgepodge of anti-nuclear demonstrators, of the type that the undercover Skellen later refers to as the middle classes "on a bloody Sunday outing". The film's message seems to be that it's not the well-meaning but naive peace protesters who ensure peace, but eternal vigilance and the willingness of men to lay down their lives in the service of their country.

The right wing politics of Who Dares Wins, together with its military fetishism, tacit support for nuclear weapons and hostility to anti-nuclear campaigners mark it out as a rare example of Thatcherite cinema. Although Margaret Thatcher wasn't much of a friend to the British film industry, so the industry probably thought they gave her as much support as she deserved. Needless to say, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a major film with Who Dares Wins' political leanings being made in Britain today.

But enough of Who Dares Wins' hawkish and rather muddled politics. Is the film entertaining, and does it deliver the goods as an action film? The answer to those questions is both Yes and No. Given that we know what the outcome of the film is going to be, the challenge for the film makers is to get to the inevitable climax as entertainingly and as plausibly as possible, and then make the finale worth waiting for.

On the first point, Who Dares Wins doesn't succeed at all. You have to overlook some major implausibilities and ropey bits of acting and dialogue, although the film is never boring exactly.

It's not clear why Skellen uses his real name instead of adopting an alias to go undercover, as being an ex-SAS officer makes him an obvious target for suspicion. In fact, it's so obvious that Skellen is a spy that it undermines any plausibility the story might have had. And, in truth, he's not a very good spy. The others in the group are suspicious of him and don't want him around, he never finds out in advance what the terrorists' target is and he is powerless to stop their takeover of the ambassador's residence.

He also foolishly makes a secret assignation with his wife in the park, where they have a quick canoodle, not realising that he has been followed by Frankie's comrades. If he wanted to see his wife, then he should have just gone around to her house. Given that they have a child together, a brief visit probably wouldn't have aroused very much suspicion.

Skellen, in fact, just overly complicates things for the SAS, as his wife and child are also taken prisoner, meaning that they just have more hostages to rescue. When it comes to the final showdown, Skellen plays his part, but he's not really needed. The real SAS never required a spy among the hostage takers at the Iranian embassy, which makes you wonder if there was any point to his activities at all. It also seems unlikely that Colonel Hadley would give Skellen's address to the German and American officer he roughed up, so that they can go around, beat him up and completely jeopardise his mission.

Two SAS men in black counter-terrorist uniforms about to blast through a wall
SAS men prepare to rescue hostages held at Skellen's house

In some ways, Who Dares Wins is a film of two halves. The first half, dealing with the build up to the terrorists' hostage taking, is not very good at all. Fortunately, the second half does have its compensations. Director Ian Sharp's interest is obviously with the action and not with the characterisations. But, as a result, when the terrorist operation gets going in the second half, from the point where they hijack the bus of a U.S. Air Force band to infiltrate the Ambassador's residence, the film certainly kicks up a gear.

The momentum is halted completely for a few minutes when the film stops for a discussion on the merits or otherwise of nuclear weapons between Davis, Widmark and Webber, but otherwise the second half of the film moves increasingly swiftly and efficiently and is lively enough that you can almost forget about the dreary first part. This is also the point where the film pulls out its trump card.

Earlier on, we had some reasonably realistic scenes of SAS men in training, escape and evasion exercises in the mountains of North Wales, live firing hostage simulations and the like, as well as agreeably James Bondish scenes of men at the SAS base running across ladders and shooting into fake buildings, like in a SPECTRE training school. But it's in the later scenes of the film that we get the real action. Remarkably, the film makers' technical advisers were from the SAS itself, giving the film technical verisimilitude if not dramatic plausibility.

The fact that the film had expert advisers on hand becomes apparent in the hostage rescue scenes. One sequence shows the police and the SAS methodically staking out a target, removing bricks from the wall of the house next door and passing a miniature camera into the room to mark the exact positions of terrorists and hostages. Although this scene is let down a little by the unlikely cat fight between Rosalind Lloyd and Ingrid Pitt, when the SAS men go in it's all quite believable, mainly because the planning and build up takes all evening, while the shooting part is over in a few seconds. As one of the hostages says "You blokes do that again. It was a bit fast for me."

The finale, as the SAS inevitably get sent in to storm the ambassador's residence, is well handled, with the film inter-cutting between the increasingly panicky terrorists, choppers whirring overhead and SAS men abseiling onto the roof. When the SAS go in, Skellen of course shows his true colours and joins them. He is even shown picking up the magazine from a discarded gun to top up his own weapon, something almost unheard of for film action heroes, who usually have unlimited ammo.

Lewis Collins firing a sub machine gun
Skellen deals with some of those pesky terrorists the only way they understand

The finale draws heavily on the Iranian Embassy siege and there is even a scene where one of the SAS troopers catches on fire as he tries to get through the window, an incident from the real siege. The director also gets some nifty POV shots through the SAS soldiers' gas masks, years before anyone had even heard of a First Person Shooter.

The American ambassador's residence was played by Heatherden Hall, the office administration building at Pinewood Studios, a building that has inevitably appeared in many other British films, including the James Bond and Carry On series. For Who Dares Wins, the building was expanded with a fake additional storey.

One other strong point of Who Dares Wins is the music by Roy Budd, another Euan Lloyd regular. Budd's theme music, a sinister, descending, electro-funk rhythm, is the coolest film theme you've never heard of. The main theme is used for much of the film's SAS material and a more up tempo version is used briefly over the opening credits. Ian Sharp doesn't get enough value out of Budd's music though, and when he found out how good his main theme was he should have re-arranged his opening title sequence to make better use of it. Roy Budd also provides some effectively nervy, vaguely discordant music, for the scenes where the terrorists hijack the U.S. Air Force bus and infiltrate the Ambassador's residence.

Unfortunately, scoring duties are shared with Jerry and Marc Donahue, whose synthesizer music is more dated and less sophisticated than Budd's. The Donahues provide the music for the training exercise in North Wales as well as the slightly cloying "Jenny's Theme" for the scenes with Skellen and his wife. The Donahues also appear in the film as one half of the rock group that Skellen and Frankie go to see.

SAS men abseil down the front of the embassy building in Who Dares Wins
SAS men enter the ambassador's residence

Given its dubious script and variable performances, Who Dares Wins was inevitably given a rough ride by the critics on its release. Understandably, it also went down badly with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who protested at the film's premiere. It did have its fans, though, including U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who praised the film.

According to Euan Lloyd, Who Dares Wins also had another unlikely fan. He later said that the film director Stanley Kubrick had called and congratulated him, praising the film making and Judy Davis's casting. Even Euan Lloyd seems to have been surprised by this development.

Does this mean there was another side to Stanley Kubrick that we weren't aware of? Was he actually a secret, hawkish, right-winger, who rejected all that artsy-fartsy crap and just wanted to see Lewis Collins kicking some terrorist butt and giving those CND peaceniks a pasting?

Although Stanley Kubrick never went on the record as a fan of Who Dares Wins, his former assistant Anthony Frewin has strongly rejected Lloyd's story, telling Nick Wrigley of Sight and Sound that "That film is the antithesis of everything Stanley stood for and believed in".

Who Dares Wins doesn't seem much like the sort of film that Kubrick would admire, but it also seems unlikely that Euan Lloyd would lie about this. So maybe Kubrick was just expressing support for a fellow film maker at a difficult time for making films in Britain. Or maybe Lloyd was the victim of a hoax. If so, then it wouldn't be the last time that someone pretended to be Stanley Kubrick.

Original British film poster for Who Dares Wins
Original British film poster for Who Dares Wins

As is sometimes the case with British films, Who Dares Wins was given a more generic title for its American release, where it was known as The Final Option. One modern review of the film I read stated that the film went by the unfortunate title of "The Final Solution", but no, it wasn't quite that bad.

Euan Lloyd made one more film, Wild Geese II in 1985. Although nominally a sequel to his 1978 war film, it was more of an urban thriller in the Who Dares Wins mould, again written by Reginald Rose, and directed by former Bond editor and director Peter Hunt. 

Ian Sharp has mostly worked in television, including on the Edward Woodward spy thriller Codename Kyril (1987), but has made a few more films, including the comedy Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War (2002) and the New Zealand-set Ray Winstone thriller Tracker (2010).

Lewis Collins never did get the role of James Bond. He thought he was ideal for it and so did parts of the British press. But Bond producer Cubby Broccoli gave him short shrift, thinking him "too aggressive". 

Following his flirtation with films, Collins would have been better served finding himself another British TV series, but instead he made a series of increasingly obscure West German-Italian war action films, most of which never troubled British cinemas. The best known of these was Codename: Wildgeese (1984), a film seemingly titled to cash in on an earlier Euan Lloyd hit. Sadly, Collins's acting career fizzled out in the 1990s, his move into films turning out not to be a wrong turn so much as a dead end.

According to Dominic Sandbrook, in his aptly titled political and social history, Who Dares Wins: Britain 1979-1982, Lewis Collins's off-screen life wasn't as far removed from his screen persona as you might think. In addition to his acting career, Lewis Collins was also a British Army reservist, having joined the Parachute Regiment in 1979. After Who Dares Wins was released, he took the gruelling SAS selection course and passed, but was turned down by the regiment as his fame made him too much of a security risk. Ironically, pretending to be an SAS soldier on screen meant that he couldn't actually be one in real life.

Who Dares Wins 

Year: 1982
Genre: Action / Thriller
Country: UK
Director: Ian Sharp

Cast  Lewis Collins (Captain Peter Skellen), Judy Davis (Frankie Leith), Richard Widmark (Secretary of State), Edward Woodward (Commander Powell), Robert Webber (General Ira Potter), Tony Doyle (Colonel Hadley), John Duttine (Rod), Kenneth Griffith (Bishop Crick), Rosalind Lloyd (Jenny Skellen), Ingrid Pitt (Helga), Norman Rodway (Ryan), Maurice Roëves (Major Steele), Bob Sherman (Hagen), Albert Fortell (Freund), Mark Ryan (Mac), Patrick Allen (Police Commissioner), Aharon Ipalé (Malek), Paul Freeman (Sir Richard), Briony Elliott (Baby Samantha), Allan Mitchell (Harkness), Richard Coleman (Mr Martin), Nigel Humphreys (Sergeant Pope), Stephen Bent (Neil), Martyn Jacobs (Policeman at mews), Raymond Brody (Bank Manager), Andrew McLachlan (Immigration Officer), Oz Clarke (Special Branch man), Peter Geddis (Butler), Jon Morrison (Dennis), Trevor Byfield (as Ziggy Byfield) (Baker), Michael Forrest (Pickley), Don Fellows (Ambassador Franklin), Alan Gifford (Senator Kohoskie), John Woodnutt (Harold Staunton), Nick Brimble (Williamson), Michael Godley (MP), Meg Davies (Mary Tinker), Lynne Miller (Melissa), Christopher Muncke (U.S. Security Man), Anna Ford and Bill Hamilton (Newscasters)

Screenplay Reginald Rose, story George Markstein  Producer Euan Lloyd  Cinematography Phil Meheux  Production designer Syd Cain  Editor John Grover  Music Roy Budd, Jerry and Marc Donahue

Running time 125 mins  Colour

Production company Richmond Light Horse Productions (for Varius A.G.)  Distributor Rank Film Distributors (UK), MGM/UA (US)


  1. Ouch. I think you're too harsh on this film. Please don't review The Professionals, I think you might ruin my childhood. :) I still love Lewis Collins.

    As for the politics, the Left hates movies that support the right and vice versa. So I'm not going to judge an action movie on this. Who Dares Wins entertains quite well.

    1. I thought I was being generous! People have said much harsher things about it, and I gave some praise - for the action scenes, the music, a couple of the actors.

      Lewis Collins was much better in The Professionals from what I've seen. He had a sense of humour and didn't look like he was trying so hard.

      Having far left bad guys isn't necessarily a problem. It would be representative of plenty of terrorist groups around this time. But it's the anti-nuclear angle that makes it such a stretch. Being anti-nuclear weapons and wanting to fire a nuclear weapon is quite a big contradiction. I know the point of this is just to show how crazy they are, but I dunno, I think the film could easily have found more convincing bad guys. And a more believable way for Skellen to infiltrate their organisation than just turning up and effectively saying "I've just left the SAS, but I'm definitely not a spy" (wink).

  2. Just a quick one on the CND point, I copied this from wikipedia:I an Sharp said: "This is one of the confusing things (...) In the film the point is that the CND is infiltrated by the terrorists. They are using a legitimate cause for their terrorism. When they are doing their machine gunning practice, they’re using CND symbols to shoot at, to show their contempt. I don’t know how they missed all the signs." In the same interview he conceded: "It’s probably my own fault. It was clear to me, but I misjudged it."

    1. That's possible in the case of Ingrid Pitt and some of the other minor characters. She does give the impression that she might have come from Euro Rent-a-Terrorist. There is also the suggestion of manipulation behind the scenes, with the middle eastern financier. But Judy Davis's character is definitely a true believer.

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  3. Actually the more likely interpretation is that the terrorists shared the beliefs of CND they just had contempt for CND's non-violent only protest philosophy. Judy Davis would still be a true believer in the cause but she has a radically different idea of how you achieve change.

    1. That's more the impression I got. Although some of them might align themselves to any convenient cause, it's difficult to see Davis's character as insincere. Even her pillow talk with Skellen is about how much nuclear weapons keep her awake at night.

  4. Hmm so if it appears right-wing and left-wing bashing it's bad? Does this work the other way around? There are plenty of films that are blatant left-wing and obviously right-wing bashing. They way outnumber right-wing films in fact. I take it if you were right-wing you would have loved this aspect of the film I suppose.

  5. Is there a reason all these reviews of this crappy movie have suddenly appeared online in the last 3 months?


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