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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2010
I have loved this film for many years and to have the widescreen special edition is just great, all previous issues having been 4:3 format. As others have stated, this film just works almost DESPITE itself! By that I mean that that it isn't by any means a great film - the script often leaves much to be desired, and the plot is somewhat simplistic - but for all that it is fantastically entertaining and fun. I would say it is uniquely British and has a charm in the same sense as, for example, the "Carry On" movies. If you like British films in general, and particularly the more "vintage" variety, then you will almost certainly appreciate this. One of those comparatively rare instances when a fims supposed "failings" actually add something almost intangible but nevertheless greatly boost its entertainment value. In my opinion this is British cinema at its most entertaining.

As a footnote to those who do not realise it, the Blue-ray issue also contains an identical issue on DVD, and this is what the "2 disc" reference is about. Somewhat confusing, as no mention is made of this in the product decription on Amazon or for that matter on the front of the disc case! I suspect most people will therefore think that it is simply a Blue-ray release! Very odd marketing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Inspired by the SAS's spectacular solution to the 1980's Iranian embassy siege in London, there's a decent 50-minute episode of The Professionals trying to escape from Who Dares Wins, but unfortunately producer Euan Lloyd is much more interested in turning it into a big political statement than delivering a satisfying torn-from-the-headlines exploitation flick. Which is a big problem for someone with as bizarre and confused political views as Lloyd - this was, after all, a man who made a film about mercenaries killing innocent people to rescue Rudolf Hess from Spandau Prison because people should stop going on about Nazi war crimes that happened years ago. This time his target is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament: he may change their name to the People's Lobby for legal reasons, but makes sure the symbolism is all at the forefront, even down to casting Kenneth Griffith as a Bruce Kent figure and shooting scenes at some of their ban the bomb rallies. In Lloyd's book the CND were a bigger menace than any of the legitimate terrorist groups he could have chosen for his baddies, a bunch of kill-crazy homicidal fanatics and bad performance artists backed by a consortium of those natural allies Arab terrorists, neo-Nazis, Christians, Marxists and the Labour Party and determined to start World War Three by firing a nuclear missile at the Holy Loch submarine base in Scotland "in the name of peace." And unfortunately all too often it's the Daily Mail politics which occupy centre-stage rather than action scenes, which are fairly few and far between, turning what should have been a decent Boys Own adventure film along the lines of his earlier The Wild Geese into something that even the UK Independence Party might think was a bit too silly for one of their party political broadcasts.

What makes it all the more curious is that the screenplay is by Reginald Rose, who wrote the hand wringing liberal classic Twelve Angry Men and that it attracted Judy Davis, still the darling of the left-wing Australian indie scene to play its fanatical psychotic rich-bitch villainess (though she promptly disowned the film afterwards, which makes you wonder if she ever bothered to read the script before she turned up for work). To be fair, when it forgets the politics Rose gives her and leading man Lewis Collins some decent dialogue when they're flirting, but it's hard to shake the phrase polishing a turd from your mind when it's back to the politics and the paper-thin plotting. What plot there is sees Collins SAS man - who naturally can afford the kind of London Mews house that goes for several million these days on a captain's pay - going undercover with Davis' group to find out what their plan is, which he resolutely fails to do because the film's more interested in Daily Mail editorialising than spy work. That their plan will involve a siege is self-evident from the start, settling for the American ambassador's residence (or the main administration building at Pinewood Studios as it's better known) instead of an embassy while Ingrid Pitt's comically short-tempered neo-Nazi uber-bitch holds Collins' wife and child hostage to ensure his co-operation. There is finally some action at the end - though not before yet more political debates that end with Davis openly declaring that she's an idiot - but it's not really exciting enough to compensate for all the jaw-jaw along the way.

This being the 80s and work in British films being hard to come by, it attracts a decent supporting cast: Edward Woodward, John Duttine and special guest hostages Robert Widmark and Robert Webber to try to help get a US distribution deal, and it's competently staged, but it often looks surprisingly cheap without ever being particularly cheerful. Ironically, back in the days when Super 8mm was still the way most people collected films to watch at home, a three-reeler 35-minute cutdown version was released that dispensed with all the padding and tedious politicking and worked rather well. The fact that you never missed the 90 minutes that were cut out pretty much says it all. The SAS deserve a better film than this. And so did audiences.

Arrow's 2012 Blu-ray reissue is a decent transfer, though the film was never particularly good looking or likely to impress on Blu-ray, and includes trailers, and audio commentarty by the director, booklet and, on the Blu-ray disc, a standard definition transfer of Collins' last film.

Boasting a meaningless title that seems solely designed to sound a bit like a then-recent Arnold Schwarzenegger hit, 1988's The Commander is the last of a trio of German-Italian mercenary movies that Lewis Collins made with Antonio Marghereti (aka Anthony M. Dawson) that began when he was still being talked of as a potential James Bond but seemed a straight-to-video afterthought after Timothy Dalton got the part (as did Collin's big screen career: this was his last feature). It's one of those by the numbers action films that manages to be both uninvolving yet surprisingly easy to keep watching - the action scenes aren't particularly good, the characterisation beyond basic (one of the mercenaries has a beard, another has a beard and a bandana, one has a hat and John Steiner `az a beret ahnd a Fronch aksunt) and the plot makes little sense, but it's a surprisingly good looking film that has a good eye for its Thai locations and enough colourful explosions spread throughout the film to keep boredom at bay. Collins is hired by Lee Van Cleef's shifty ex-mercenary-cum-drug-dealer to cause a bit of destruction in his main supplier's Cambodian compound to show him who's boss while Manfred Lehman's spy has that kind of only-in-the-movies overnight plastic surgery that leaves no scars, requires no healing and makes him look exactly like one of Collins' old comrades so he can tag along to find out the identity of a DEA mole that's conveniently on a CD-ROM in the compound that, among others, Donald Pleasance's spymaster wants to get his hands on before anyone else can get a look at it. There are no surprises and it's all very derivative - at one point when trucks are driving through the jungle you even get shots accompanied by synth scoring reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's work on Sorcerer a decade earlier - but it goes over old ground efficiently enough for it to wash over you inoffensively enough.

The extras-free slightly censored version (a cockfight has been cut) is a mostly decent 1.85:1widescreen print, though it suffers from some obvious DNR in places.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2010
A punchy British action flick from the same people who brought you punchy British action flicks "The Wild Geese" and "The Sea Wolves". SAS Captain Peter Skellern (Lewis Collins) is assigned to infiltrate an anti-nuclear terrorist group, the Revolution for Peace movement of the People's Lobby, as it prepares a spectacular publicity coup by taking top-level US and British dignataries hostage at a dinner in London and threatening to execute them unless a nuclear missile is fired - "in the name of peace" - at the US submarine base at Holy Loch. When negotiations stall and one of the hostages is killed, the SAS are sent in to rescue the others. That is the film in a nutshell. It isn't sophisticated, it isn't subtle, and if you are a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament then you may have a claim to feeling personally slighted. But as a solid action movie, "Who Dares Wins" is excellent - yes, it could very easily be taken as a feature-length episode of "The Professionals", although it would be unfair to say that Collins is merely reprising his Bodie role; Captain Skellern is for starters married (to Rosalind Lloyd) with a child, and while this doesn't stop him from being a complete tart for Queen and Country it does call for a little less smirking glibness than we got with the unattached, carefree Bodie. Skellern has more cares.
It is not action all-the-way, and this is to the film's advantage because, contrary to what some have said, "Who Dares Wins" is not gung-ho. The SAS are portrayed simply as a body of men doing the job they are ordered to do. Indeed, as the SAS Commanding Officer (a crisp Tony Doyle) explains in the early stages of the film: "When we are called to do a job, we have been likened to a surgeon cutting out a cancer. It is a filthy and difficult job. We don't like doing it, but it's our duty." The bulk of the film centres on Skellern's infiltration of the terrorist movement, and his "relationship" with its' leader Frankie Leith (Judy Davis). Those with little patience may thus find themselves fidgeting a bit, but there is ample reward when the action finally does begin, including of course the famous tracking shot with Skellern and SAS comrades charging down the corridor of the US Ambassador's residence. There is also a excellently staged single-shot sequence where a terrorist is standing guard on a balcony, and an SAS man abseils down and shoots him. Then there is the fate that awaits Frankie Leith, as she and Skellern stare down each other's gun barrels....
Along with those already mentioned, the high-grade cast includes Richard Widmark, Edward Woodward, John Duttine, Robert Webber, Patrick "Protect And Survive" Allen and Anna Ford as herself. The title music is ace, and the grimy early Eighties ambience that permeates the film is quite intoxicating. It also boasts a fantastic catfight between Mrs Skellern and a very boo-hiss Ingrid Pitt, as one of two terrorists who have taken Mrs Skellern and her baby daughter hostage. It's more vicious than outside Chicago Rock Cafe in Wolverhampton on a Friday night!
"Who Dares Wins." One of my favourite movies.
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on 22 July 2015
This review refers to the Arrow blu ray release. Film: 4 stars. Blu ray picture quality: 2 stars (at best).
A highly enjoyable action film where the pace and interest is maintained throughout the film by tight editing, good acting, a credible script and some uplifting action sequences, especially the helicopter sequences in the armed raid of the US Ambassador's residence. This is Lewis Collins's finest hour as he confidently fits the part of Skellen, an SAS Captain perfectly. Also good to see the familiar faces of Patrick Allen and Edward Woodward playing minor roles. I also enjoyed the rare sequence where Ingrid Pitt as a female terrorist fights with a mother who is protecting her baby against Ingrid. The choice language uttered in the struggle was beautifully realised by Ms Pitt! Classic!
Now for the down side - the picture quality. This has to be one of the poorest blu rays I have played. The picture shows no sign of any restoration, with a lack of sharpness that appeared blurred for most of the playing time, (almost as if the three primary colours of the Panavision system had 'slipped'?). I was disgusted with Arrow for having the cheek to release such a poor level of quality while boasting "High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation". By comparison Network's current release of The Professionals series is FAR superior than this 'quick buck' release. I have played better looking DVDs than this release. These comments are made having evaluated the blu ray through a pj system. This pathetic release comes nowhere near to what is possible on blu ray (eg Vertigo or To Catch a Thief, both far older films). I will be very wary of ever trusting Arrow in any more blu ray releases. Arrow take note and start spending money on some restoration work. This Arrow release is shameful.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2002
What a piece of Vintage Film. Anyone who stayed up for the the 9.00 showing each Sunday night of "The Professionals" and still watches them now with fondness will appreciate this film most. Equally fond thoughts will be harboured if you remeber vivdly the scenes of LIVE feed when the Iranian embassy was liberated by the real Men in Black. Namely "the Regiment" or Special Air Squadron(SAS). It is not meant to be the ultimate action film and was probably on a similar budget to The Professionals series but what they manage to capture is the same era and feelings that made you proud, wright or Wrong!, that we posess the means within this small miliatary power we now are, to take on the Baddies and prevail. With all that is written about the exploits of good old British Soldier during the world wars it`s a very satisfying to know that what we once were we still are in smaller number.
The film is a fabulous mixture of SAS action and delivered in a BOND way as we see a mock up training sequence behind the gates at Hereford and a view of the hostage room within the Killing house. Where no other than Mrs.Thatcher and Royal couples have been put through the paces of how to keep still when the SAS decide to enter to bring the terrorists impromptu dinner party to an end.
Buy this DVD it is a thrill to watch and feels very much like the Sweeney films in a nostalgic way, a sort of Top Flite episode of the Professionals. The climactic end sequence is second to none and stirrs the spirit and hairs on the back of the neck. Especially when Lewis Collins leads the troops down the corridor of the embassy to some fabulous back music.
BUY IT!!!
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on 14 March 2012
I first saw this film at the movies - this was in the time when someone who could only have been Lewis Collins' agent was regularly writing to movie mags urging he would make a great James Bond.

In this film we see just why Lewis Collins would have been an appalling Bond - he really lacks any conviction as a tough man - more schoolground pose than lethal killer. "It's SAS or nothing for me" is an inspiring line revealing anything but the macho intended. The sheer ludicrous joy of seeing Mr Collins dangling from a helicopter on a "heroic" approach to the op (and with what look suspiciously like built up heels) is pure cinematic heaven!!!

Yet for all the nonsense and "macho by the numbers" approach to constructing the film it remains highly enjoyable and not at all offensive a way of spending a miserable winter's afternoon. I watch it at least once a year, it is gratifying to see terrorists expedited and good guys win; and despite Lewis Collins it is also full of actors who are dependable and give solid performances.

Not something to spend a lot of money on, not the most shining example of British cinema (or anywhere else for that matter) but an enjoyable romp for schoolboys and other boys who have not grown up (such as me!) and, above all, it is not badly constructed so the nonsense is at least well handled.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
For all those viewers of a certain age (ie who remember watching the storming of the iranian embassy live) this a thrilling blast-from-the past . i remember it being around the time of the brilliant "harrys game" , when the world was black and white , not various shades of grey - every schoolboy wanted to be in the SAS after seeing this - in the same way everyone wanted to be a hacker after seeing War Games . For those who loved war games , red dawn , firefox etc this is nirvana - yes the script is pretty laughable , the political ideology somewhat dodgy and almost completely unbelievable (yes we're going to kill 2 american v.i.p's on brecon beacons and "no-one's going to miss you !") but feel the nostalgia !
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2009
Superb action film. The casting was perfect and the primary aspects of the movie came across as being believable and authentic, some certainly leapt from the pages of a comic book. But 'Who Dares Wins' was thoroughly enjoyed by most who saw it though, predictably, it was loathed by the critics who invariably operate from the self loathing, left wing, anti-establishment premiss of the modern intelligentsia. Any novel or film depicting fringe groups or minorities being represented by zealots and unhinged fanatics who pose a serious threat to the lives of the majority, and who are subsequently defeated by an organisation or individual employed to protect and stand up for them, has not got a hope in hell in the eyes, and with the pens, of such people in the mainstream media. See it and enjoy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 December 2014
The perfect gift for all movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Who Dares Wins is largely an advert for the SAS (the title is the regiment's slogan) and was inspired by the famous siege of the Iranian embassy in London in 1980. TV star and SAS trainee (supposedly denied entry due to his fame) Lewis Collins plays Captain Peter Skellen, an SAS soldier who fakes a dishonorable discharge in order to work under cover in a political group called The People's Lobby.

The group is seemingly a bunch of peace-loving activists intent on disarming the world's nuclear armaments, but is actually a front for a terrorist group (I'll touch on the loopy politics later). Skellen gets up close and personal with the female leader Frankie Leith (played by Judy Davis) and eventually discovers that they plan to take a group of politicians, military leaders and dignitaries hostage, promising their release only if the government fires a nuclear missile on an evacuated area of Scotland to show the world the true level of destruction a warhead of this kind can cause.

It's a film where your enjoyment and appreciation really depends on how seriously you take it. As the synopsis above describes, the film's plot is very silly and the politics, which feature heavily, are questionable. However, if you can push those elements aside, it is actually quite an enjoyable but guilty pleasure.

For me, once Roy Budd's funky score kicked in and we're shown an SAS training scenario that looks like a Bond film's gadget testing area I switched my brain off and actually had quite a good time. The film's finale helped too with the SAS maneuvers portrayed in fast brutal strokes that made for some fairly authentic feeling and exhilarating moments. For a modestly budgeted British film that is as old as I am the action is very well handled and gives the film a strong appeal in a trashy genre movie sort of way. There's even a first-person sequence which pre-dates Doom and Kick-Ass by more than twenty years.

However, you are constantly `treated' to a lot of rubbish too. Scenes where the terrorists train by using peace signs as target practice and an impassioned speech by the Secretary of State that practically talks the terrorist leader out of her beliefs are simply laughable and demonstrate the armchair pundit level of political discourse in the film. The script is pretty weak in general, with holes-a-plenty in the plot and plenty of ropey bits of dialogue.

The terrorists are incredibly stupid too, falling for every half-arsed trick the SAS throw at them (the way that Skellen manages to bed Leith within minutes of spouting cornball lines is baffling), not to mention the ridiculous ransom demands themselves. It's admirable that the filmmakers give the terrorists more of a human face and an understandable cause, but they fail miserably in actually making any of it convincing or intelligent.

All in all the film is no work of art by any description, but if like me you're partial to a bit of trashy 80's action then there is fun to be had, just don't at any point try to take it seriously or you'll be hugely disappointed.

FOOT NOTE:
Allegedly, the film was made with the help of the 22 SAS Regiment at Hereford, although their commanding officer Peter de la Billière had initially refused to help in a pre-production meeting with Euan Lloyd. Director Ian Sharp, who was hired due to Lloyd's liking of his direction in the TV series The Professionals, was invited to SAS headquarters at Stirling Lines where he met with some of the troops who assaulted the Iranian Embassy. With the co-operation of the SAS achieved, production moved ahead swiftly.

An SAS trainer was used to train the actors portraying SAS troopers. However, Sharp says Collins required no training and impressed the SAS instructor with his skills.

During one of his visits to Stirling Lines, Sharp had met with a Fijian trooper who had a mishap during the Iranian Embassy assault. The trooper told how he got caught up in his descent and his uniform caught fire due to the explosives used for their forced entry. Inspired by this, Sharp had a similar scene inserted.

When it came time to shoot the SAS assault on the US Embassy, the crew had prepared the helicopters and stuntmen but the SAS offered to do the scene instead. Sharp accepted as he thought the look they gave could not be replicated by the crew.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2002
Who Dares Wins.
Inspired by the SAS rescue of hostages at the besieged Iranian Embassy in May 1980 (itself the subject of a recent BBC2 documentary), this film received sniffy reviews at the time of its release, presumably out of some kind of inverted snobbery about "Good Guys" winning by force (why was this OK in The Magnificent Seven?) or in reaction to an alleged glamorisation of gratuitous violence. In truth, though undoubtedly violent, it is a very good action movie that has dated little, revolving about the incredible capabilities of 22 Regiment, the Special Air Service, to carry out what it calls Counter-Revolutionary Warfare. And, if this movie is remotely authentic (and it probably is), how incredible their tactics are.
In fact, the military expertise shown here is told in an almost understated, typically British way. The innumerable comic-book-style Delta Force movies are not in even a neighbouring league. It also touches on some very serious issues - witness, for example, the argument between captor Judy Davis and hostage American Secretary of State Richard Widmark about the rights and wrongs of countries having nuclear weapons in the name of peace and defence of democracy. Who, you might ask, are the real terrorists?
Lewis Collins stars as the cool but deadly SAS officer who has to infiltrate the terrorist anti-nuclear gang, Judy Davis as the gang's leader, John Duttine as her Marxist-revolutionary sidekick, Tony Doyle as the SAS chief and Edward Woodward, particularly fine as the calm but authoritative police commander. The nature of rescuing hostages with ultimate force is debated briefly but importantly by the latter two. Who knows when we will next be faced with this issue again?
But the real star of the movie is the reputation of the SAS itself. The climax of the movie is a jaw-dropping tour-de-force. Should you ever need them, you'll be grateful they're on your side. In a sense, considering the global political climate today, we need them all the time.
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